By RYAN KING
– with files from Jaymie L. White
PORT AUX BASQUES – The Hospital Radiothon fundraiser is an annual event that takes place during the month of September or October to raise funds for priority medical equipment. The event this year will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The telethon will be broadcast on VOCM (96.7 FM or 97.7 FM) and listeners are asked to call in to make donations.
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 proven to be an amazing success for the LeGrow hospital for fundraising.
“Since 1994, just in Radiothon pledges alone, we’ve raised a 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 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 Stephenville this year’s Radiothon has some added significance, since it will also honour late town 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, says the Radiothon is one of their 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.”
In the Port aux Basques area, those wishing to donate in person can go to the Lions Club between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sept. 29. Volunteers will also be at the Lions Club on Thursday and Friday between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and throughout the following week to accept donations. Donors can also mail in their donations to P. O. Box 250, Port aux Basques, NL, A0M1C0, or electronically via e-transfer to: email@example.com.