Victoria Hospital Foundation tees up expansion project

A golfer tees up his shot during the Emma Lake Golf Course Victoria Hospital Charity Classic on July 6. A total of 136 golfers raised a combined $44,000 during the event. -- Photo courtesy of the Victoria Hospital Foundation.

The campaign to expand Victoria Hospital’s 357 square foot special care nursery is off to a hot start.

Golfers from across the Prince Albert area gathered at Emma Lake Golf Course on July 6 for the seventh annual Vic Hospital Charity Golf Classic. The event raised roughly $44,000 for the expansion, putting a huge dent into what is shaping up to be a costly project.

“This is a very important campaign and we are getting started very early on it because we have a lot of money to raise,” Victoria Hospital Foundation executive director Sherry Buckler said. “We haven’t set our goal as to what that will look like, but it is very, very important.”

The Victoria Hospital special care nursery can treat for up to eight infants at a time. Medically fragile newborns can be hospitalized in the nursery for a variety of issues, such as premature birth, or being born with conditions like HIV or Hepatitis C.

Despite the construction of a new hospital in Saskatoon, Buckler said space for newborn babies is still tight, meaning the Victoria Hospital’s eight spaces won’t be enough.

“Our nursery will often take babies from Saskatoon and Regina when there’s no room in those two cities because we are part of the pediatric team in the province that has the ability to care for sick babies,” she explained. “Most people don’t know that.”

The foundation won’t know exactly how many funds they’ll need to expand the nursery, or how many more newborns the hospital can take once it’s completed. Those details will be available after the floor space plans are drawn up and presented to the foundation.

Until then, the organization is pushing hard to get as much of a head start as possible.

The $44,000 raised on July 6 was a good start, especially since Buckler said they weren’t sure how successful the tournament would be. This year marked the first time the foundation did not hold its annual O.K. Hjertaas Memorial Golf Classic, instead choosing to amalgamate it with the Emma Lake tournament.

The tournament’s success means they may look to expand the number sports available for 2019.

“When we ended the Hjertaas tournament it was a sad time and we weren’t sure whether or not some of our Hjertaas golfers would follow us to the lake, but they certainly did and we sold out,” Buckler said. “In fact, we probably could have had more golfers had we had more golf carts, so it was a wild success.”

Buckler credited former NHL defenceman Robyn Regehr for part of that success. Regehr was the tournament’s celebrity guest, and also made a $1,500 donation to the cause.

“Robyn is a classy man. He played professionally with class and style and that’s who he really is,” Buckler said. “When he got back to us and said he would love to help us out we were so excited.”

The foundation’s next major fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2018 when the 13th annual Give a Little Life Day kicks off at Victoria Hospital.