Picture This Campaign tops $1 million raised

Riverside Foundation for Health Care’s Picture This campaign has reached more than half of its goal of $1.5 million to replace equipment in the diagnostic imaging department at La Verendrye General Hospital.

Allison Cox, campaign director, said they secured a major donation of $180,000 last week, in addition to an anonymous donation of $100,000 the week prior. Both of those donations have topped the campaign above $1 million in donations and commitments.

“That’s amazing for us,” Cox said. “It’s been a very successful quiet phase of the campaign. And at this point, we are ready to go into our public launch.”

Cox added that they have been doing presentations with all the municipalities in the district. So far, the Townships of Lake of the Woods, Dawson, Morley, La Vallee and the Town of Rainy River are on board.

The campaign was launched in June and is still in its quiet launch, but Cox said they are optimistic that they will reach the $1.5 million commitments by March 31, 2022.

In terms of purchasing the equipment, Cox said as they start receiving the funds, she will begin working with the supplies team from the facilities as well as senior leadership to start determining priority purchasing.

The average lifespan of medical equipment is around 10 years, give or take a few software upgrades. Cox said some of their machines are well over that.

“We’ve reached this perfect unfortunate storm in the diagnostic imaging department where the majority of the equipment in there either needs upgrading or replacing,” Cox said.

Cox said they were able to replace two ultrasound machines in December 2020 which came at a cost of $250,000. They were able to use funds raised through their monthly 50/50 as well as some reserve funds that they keep on hand for urgent needs that come up.

With the $1.5 million, Cox said they are looking at upgrading the X-ray rooms from an analog system to a digital system. This will not only mean clear images, but also radiation reduction dosage for both patients and staff.

“This is anywhere from 50 to 80 per cent reduction in radiation dosage for people that are coming in to get X-rays completed once the digital system is in place,” Cox said.

The current digital mammography machine was purchased through the Together We Can campaign back in 2012 and it has reached its end of useful life. Cox said this means that the manufacturers are not able to provide any more software upgrades or parts replacement should something break down.

La Verendrye General Hospital runs 2000 mammograms a year, Cox said, adding that it is imperative that they can continue running their healthy breast network program.

The big-ticket item is the replacement of the current CT scanner. The CT scanner was purchased through the Together We Can campaign back in 2008. Cox said they were able to do a software upgrade on it in 2014, which has extended its life but at this point, they are running on borrowed time.

“The replacement CT scanner that we’re looking at is exciting for a few reasons,” Cox said. “One of it is that again, it’s going to reduce radiation dosage to the patients. And it’s going to have a higher weight accommodation, so we’ll better be able to serve members of the bariatric population. But the super exciting thing about it is the benefit that it’s going to have in regard to our Telestroke program.”

The Telestroke program is a province-wide network that has been set up in rural hospitals. For example, if a patient comes in that is a suspect of stroke, CT scans can be completed right away and sent off through the Telestroke program where an offsite neurosurgeon is able to look at them immediately and discuss the best course of action with on-site physicians.

“With our current CT scanner, because of its age, it’s just not able to do the type of imaging that the neurosurgeons need in terms of assessing the stroke patients,” Cox said. “This new CT scanner is going to have much faster imaging.”

Cox said this is huge for the district because it can be completed up to 20 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.

“We’re greatly increasing that window of opportunity for treatment for stroke symptoms in the Rainy River District,” Cox said. “Whereas right now, if we’re beyond that window of opportunity, sometimes there’s just nothing that can be done.”

The campaign has scheduled their public launch on Sept. 12, which will include district-wide events that will begin in Rainy River with a community pancake breakfast. There will also be a community lunch in Emo, and then they will have a diagnostic imaging dash from the Emo Health Centre to the La Verendrye General Hospital.

Cox said they will be looking for teams or individuals that would like to sign up to take on either five or 10k sections between Emo and Fort Frances for the dash, which will end at the La Verendrye General Hospital with a community barbecue.

Cox said it is not a fundraiser but more so to raise awareness for the campaign.