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Radiothon raises large amount for healthcare with community support

Posted on 10 November 2021 by Matthew Liebenberg
Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation staff in front of the final total raised during the 2021 Radiothon, Oct. 29. Standing, from left, Jim Dekowny (executive director) and Marcus Kouri (development and major gifts coordinator). Seated, from left, Kris Johnson (development, design and administration) and Sara Adrian (communication and development coordinator).

Strong community support from across southwest Saskatchewan helped the Dr Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation to exceed the fundraising goal for the annual Radiothon.

The 2021 Pharmasave Radiothon for Healthcare took place over two days from Oct. 28-29 with a goal to raise $150,000 for the purchase of a telemetry system for the Cypress Regional Hospital.

The closing total at the end of the first day of the Radiothon was over $70,000 and donations continued to come in on the second day, which brought the final amount raised to $158,150.

Foundation Executive Director Jim Dekowny appreciated the support of everyone who made it possible to exceed to fundraising goal.

“We were able to have a really successful two days thanks to the donors and all the people in the southwest that were able to step up and help us and donate,” he said. “It was just a great, great two days. … You always want to meet your goal and the last two years we’ve been able to meet it and exceed it, and it’s because of the people in the southwest.”

The success of the Radiothon was the result of a real team effort involving staff and board members from the Healthcare Foundation in partnership with sponsors and volunteers. But after all the preparation, the success of the event depended entirely on the generosity of donors, whether individuals or organizations, that decided to support healthcare in the southwest.

“You wonder about how it’s going to play out or how it’s going to go,” he said. “We put basically two-and-a-half months of planning into two days and you just pray to goodness that people are listening and that people are willing to donate.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty for non-profit organizations that rely on community support during fundraising events, and this was also something that Dekowny and his team at the Foundation was thinking about in the run-up to the Radiothon.

“You do all your work and I think the team did a good job of raising awareness and getting the word out there that it’s happening, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” he said. “Our ICUs are overwhelmed right now as it is and you just wonder what do people have left to give, and it just shows that people in the southwest care. They care about healthcare and they care about the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation. So that’s really nice to see.”

He felt a key part of the success of the Radiothon was the work done ahead of time to create awareness of the event and to get the community’s support.

“We’ve taken a little different approach to the Radiothon,” he said. “We did a lot of stuff prior to it. We talked to the Hutterian colonies, we talked to all the RMs, all the towns throughout the area, and we send them stuff and explain to them what our needs are. The stuff leading up to it as far as radio ads and that type of stuff and mail-outs and those types of things helped us immensely to really capture what we need to do for those two days and it worked really well.”

This awareness campaign ahead of the Radiothon included messages by healthcare professionals working at Cypress Regional Hospital, who explained what a telemetry central monitoring system is and the benefits of a new system. He appreciated their willingness to support the Radiothon in this manner while being so busy caring for patients in the hospital.

“Their time is very valuable with this pandemic and the time they’re not at the hospital saving lives, they’re actually sleeping,” he said. “So we did have a hard time getting hold of them and we were able to get them, but it wasn’t easy. The manager over at the hospital helped us immensely to pull all that together.”

A telemetry system is a specialized piece of equipment used to monitor the vital signs of patients located across the hospital. Patients can be monitored while they move freely within their room or on their unit, instead of having to stay within their room and be attached to stationary equipment.

The current telemetry system at the Cypress Regional Hospital was purchased in 2012. It is out of date and has become unreliable. Breakdowns of the system might require the use of ICU beds for non-critical patients just to monitor them. The new system will make it possible for specialists in large centres to monitor patients remotely without the need for transfers.

Dr. Kevin Wasko, who is the Physician Executive for Integrated Rural Health in the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and also a physician working in the emergency department at the Cypress Regional Hospital, spoke about the importance of the telemetry system during a live on-air radio interview on the first day of the Radiothon.

“It’s not a big item that you can look at, but it’s very important to the care that we provide to patients,” he said. “It monitors people that may be at any point in the hospital, and it monitors their heart rate and vital signs and that sort of thing so that they can be closely watched, even if they are up in a ward. … There have been times where I’ve been working in the emergency department and we recognized that someone has COVID that way or that they’ve gone into an unstable arrythmia of their heart and needed an immediate response and where the team responded to that.”

He emphasized that it is therefore important to have a telemetry system in the hospital that is up to date to provide the data required by health professionals.

“We have noticed that with the current machine it sometimes will cut in and out, that the battery light isn’t as good as it maybe was,” he said. “So it is important that we update that, like we update everything else.”

Dekowny said the new telemetry system was ordered on Nov. 1, and he was looking forward to its delivery as soon as possible. He was hoping the supply chain problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will not cause any delay in the process to receive the new system.

“I’m hoping we don’t have any issues with that,” he said. “The supply chain, whether it’s vehicles to healthcare stuff, is just backlogged right now. So we’re hoping that we can get it quickly and get it put in, because it’s drastically needed.”

Correction note: An error occurred in the article about the Dr. Noble Regional Healthcare Foundation Radiothon, which was published in the Nov. 12 edition of the Prairie Post East. The article included a quote by Dr. Kevin Wasko, the Physician Executive for Integrated Rural Health in the Saskatchewan Health Authority. However, a word in his sentence was misquoted, and the term “COVID” was used instead of the correct term “coded.” Below is the corrected sentence: “There have been times where I’ve been working in the emergency department and we recognized that someone has coded that way or that they’ve gone into an unstable arrhythmia of their heart and needed an immediate response and where the team responded to that.” The Prairie Post regrets the error.

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