Second-hand clothing, ski tickets, cookies.
All played a big part in the official launch Thursday of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation’s Building a Tower of Care Campaign, Phase 2 before a sold-out breakfast crowd at the Prestige Inn.
“We are dedicated to raising $2.5 million over the next three years to furnish and equip the sixth and seventh floors of Polson Tower at VJH,” said campaign co-chair Richard Finn, president of Wayside Co. and vice-president of the foundation board.
“It’s time for the residents of the North Okanagan to join together in bringing modern inpatient care rooms and enhanced medical equipment to our community.”
The total cost of the project to convert the two shelled-in floors into updated patient care rooms is $29.6 million.
The province will chip in $21.6 million and the regional hospital district will contribute $5.5 million. The balance will come from the foundation, which has already raised $150,000 toward the goal.
The number got a significant boost at the launch Thursday.
The Armstrong Spallumcheen Healthcare Auxiliary donated $50,000 from funds raised strictly through sales at its Bargain Bin store in Armstrong, and Vernon Tim Hortons added $31,710 bringing the total raised to more than $230,000.
“Since 1995, we’ve donated more than $811,000 to the foundation and nearly $2 million to health-related causes in the North Okanagan,” said Maureen Karran of the auxiliary, accompanied by Marge Burtch.
Added Dan Currie, owner of the Tim Hortons stores in Vernon: “We have contributed more than $100,000 over the years. This year’s total is from our Smile Cookie sales in September. We sold more than 15,000 cookies in a week in September and my wife (Jamie) and I matched the sales.”
Silver Star Mountain Resort announced that they have given the foundation 5,000 tickets to sell at $20 each for its anticipated opening four days, Nov. 28 to Dec. 1. All proceeds from the voucher sales go to the campaign.
The Polson Tower opened in September 2011 and has been a great addition to the North Okanagan.
However, more patients than beds has remained a daily issue. The empty sixth and seventh floors will, when finished, have 60 new beds and larger private rooms.
“Too many of us in health care have seen patients in less than desirable places,” said campaign co-chairperson Dr. Chris Cunningham, referring to patients being attended to on stretchers in the hospital hallways with no privacy.
“With the completion of the top two floors in the Polson Tower, we will have space for 60 patients to be treated in a modern, state-of-the-art facility with spacious rooms.”
Sandra Tully, medical manager at VJH, told the story of a man named Jim, who stayed with his dying wife at her bedside in a cramped room at VJH, sleeping in an upright chair. He declined the hospital’s offer of a bed.
“He said, ‘No, if you put the chair in front of the bed, the nurses can’t move around the bed to have access to my wife and I don’t want to disrupt them,’” said Tully.
The campaign team was introduced and includes Vernon’s Myrika Godard, wife of Stanley Cup winner Eric Godard, now a coach with the B.C. Hockey League’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks.
“I wanted to join this amazing team because I personally believe that families, visitors, comfort and rest help with the healing process,” said Godard. “I joined this team to help create better hospital rooms, areas for families to visit and a more comfortable hospital stay.”
North Okanagan residents can contribute to the campaign by donating to the 26th annual Light A Bulb, which was also launched Thursday. Funds will be designated toward the Tower of Care.
Pledge forms will be mailed throughout the North Okanagan next week. Donations are also accepted online at the foundation’s secure website, www.vjhfoundation.org.