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Sharing the Hospital Radiothon

By JAYMIE L. WHITE – with files from Ryan King

The Garden of Hope at the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital. – © Jaymie L. White

STEPHENVILLE – The Hospital Radiothon is an annual event that helps to raise money for the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital, but this year there is an added significance to the event. This year the Radiothon will honour late councillor Mike Tobin.

Tobin was a member of the Stephenville Town Council for 24 years and volunteered for the Radiothon with host and fellow councillor Don Gibbon. Tobin passed away on Mar. 5 at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook.

Laura Aylward, Chair of the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital Foundation, has been a member of the foundation almost as long as it was established in 1987 and says the Radiothon is one of the most important fundraisers.

“Our main purpose is to raise money for medical equipment for our hospital,” said Aylward. “This year what we want to purchase for the emergency department is an EKG medical cart and various items to go with the cart, as well as a bladder scanner to be used by the specialists who come out from Corner Brook, and then a bariatric bed to be used on our medical ward. The total amount comes to $75,100. That’s our goal this year.”

The Radiothon, which used to air over two days, has been cut down to one, which is now shared between the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital and Dr. Charles L. LeGrow in Port Aux Basques. Aylward says the cut in airtime resulted in a drastic decrease in the amount of fundraising the hospital was able to achieve, but this year there is a plan to change that.

“The last several years we have had to share with Port Aux Basques and, of course, that means that we go on in the morning for 3.5 hours and in the afternoon LeGrow would take over for their turn. What we did last year is we promoted both foundations at the same time the whole day,” said Aylward.

Mayor Tom Rose believes this strategy will prove effective for everyone involved.

“Good communication is going to end up driving the philanthropy and people helping out the foundation throughout the whole day because it will be announced from both sides of the equation,” said Rose. “I think it is a really good strategy.”

Aylward said the foundation has a method to determine what is needed when it comes to allocating the funds raised.

“Western Health has a medical committee that sets the priorities. What they do is check with the managers of different departments who give them a priority list, and from that list, that’s how we pick out the items needed that we could get with the amount of money we raise,” said Aylward.

The foundation receives $50,000 from the province each year to match the amount raised, which has been a huge help and gives the foundation a much-needed boost, but fundraising remains extremely crucial.

“It’s really important because medical equipment, it gets outdated, it outlives it use and they come up with new technologies,” explained Aylward. “The budget for Western Health that is given by the government, they usually don’t have enough money to cover all the items.”

Mayor Tom Rose hopes that with the continued growth of Stephenville, the radiothon will be more successful this year.

“I’m hoping that as we grow as a community we might get back to the point where we have the full day allocated us,” said Rose.

Rose understands that healthcare is very costly for the province and believes the work the foundation does is critical.

“I think collectively as a community, as a region, we are doing a really good job and we need to continue. I have a lot of hope that our Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital will retain and grow its services into the future,” said Rose.

Wayne Green is the Chair of the LeGrow Health Centre Foundation in Port aux Basques, which currently has 18 active members. He has been with the foundation for over 20 years. Green shared that the radiothon has proved to be an amazing success for the LeGrow hospital for fundraising.

“Since 1994, just in Radiothon pledges alone, we’ve raised little over $1.5 million, and that’s through the generous donations of individuals, the business community to do that,” shared Green. “We put out requests saying we’re fundraising for a certain piece of equipment, people usually step up to the plate and they’re certainly generous with their dollars.”

The goal of the current radiothon for LeGrow is to raise money to purchase three critical care monitors at a cost of $220,000.

“We started last year and we knew that it was going to take a couple of years to do this. It’s not something we could fundraise from one year, but last year we raised a little over $50,000, around $53,000, plus, government gave us $50,000 last year. So you know that was a big chunk of change going towards this project, and we’re hoping to have enough this year through the radiothon, ” said Green.

The equipment is critical for those with heart conditions.

“That’s to monitor patients heart rhythm, blood pressure and oxygen level. So like if someone goes into the hospital, with some kind of a heart problem, heart attack, or whatever, this equipment they hook up,” said Green.

The hospital’s current equipment is near the end of its life, which is why the radiothon is focused on procuring new machines.

“They’ve had some problems. Dr. Dave Thomas was telling me Monday night in our meeting, one of the units they had some problems, but they were able to get some spare parts and get it up working again. But it’s on the wing and a prayer thing right now, and that hopefully this can happen sooner than later to get this new equipment in,” said Green.

Green noted that the change in format from previous years was largely due to the ongoing COVID restrictions.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a local radio station where they’ll say ‘Yeah, you can use our airwaves’ and whatever, but we can’t do like we’ve done years ago where Port aux Basques done theirs, Stephenville had theirs, and Corner Brook had their own. Right now, Stephenville and Port aux Basques have to share,” said Green. “So we’ll take from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and we’ll advertise as well for Stephenville, and vice versa in the afternoon. Stephenville is from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and they’ll advertise for us as well, announcing numbers, and what we’re doing.”

The format change has not impacted LeGrow’s fundraising. In fact, there was an increase in funding during the 2020 event while sharing the radio airtime with Stephenville. The total in 2019 was $42,881.57 and Green conceded that he hadn’t expected that would increase during the pandemic.

“For 2020 – you know it’s a COVID year – we figured that our donations would be down, but we raised last year $53,300. That’s what was donated last year from individuals in the business community,” said Green.

The Radiothon will be broadcast on Wednesday, Sept. 29 in Corner Brook from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm with Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital taking the afternoon slot and Dr. Charles L. LeGrow taking the morning slot. However phone numbers for both of the hospitals will be announced throughout the entire day.

In the Bay St. George area, those wishing to donate in person can visit the Stephenville Lions Club between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29. In Port aux Basques, in-person donations can be made at the Lions Club between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and on Thursday and Friday between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., as well as during the following week. Donors can also mail in their contributions to P. O. Box 250, Port aux Basques, NL, A0M1C0, or send in an e-transfer to: legrowfoundation@gmail.com.

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