St. Stephen – Each year, the Charlotte County Hospital Foundation Inc. (CCHF) hosts its annual Radiothon, with the help of staff from Charlotte FM, as well as volunteers. This event is usually held at the Charlotte County Hospital, but this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are going to be a few changes. The biggest is that Radiothon is not being held right in the hospital, but rather will be happening at the radio station. CCHF President Steve Backman said because there is a risk of spreading COVID-19, they can’t use the hospital because they can’t have volunteers and others coming in and out.
“We will be holding it at the radio station,” said Backman. “It’ll be a drive-thru. We’re hoping most people donate either online or by mail because we want to try and limit contact as much as possible. If the weather’s nice, there’ll be a place set up that they can drive up and make the donation.”
Radiothon is held each year to raise money for much-needed equipment for the hospital. Last year, the funds raised of just over $100,000, which was used to purchase a transport ventilator, a pediatric blade to help babies breathe, and an oxygen blender. This year, CCHF hopes to raise enough funds to be able to purchase several big-ticket items for the hospital.
“We always have a huge, long list,” said Backman. “There’s a few things. The biggest one is called the LUCAS device. If anybody’s familiar with CPR, you know how tiring and exasperating it can be if you have to perform it for a few minutes. This is a machine that performs CPR. It does the chest compressions, and it doesn’t tire. It’s actually good for COVID because it frees up one person to do other things or not be in the room. It continues the compressions for as long as necessary.”
Another item funds will be used for is a transport radiant warmer. This is a device which keeps newborn babies warm to transport them to Saint John. The Charlotte County Hospital doesn’t have a maternity ward, but there are occasions when emergency deliveries are done at the hospital, and then mother and baby must be transported to Saint John.
“Typically, mothers will go to Saint John knowing when the baby’s getting close and they can have the delivery in Saint John. As a backup, we had Calais for emergencies. But, we’ve lost Calais because they’ve taken out their maternity ward. They’ve stopped delivering babies. Plus, COVID creates an issue at the border. So, Charlotte County’s had some baby deliveries, so now we have to equip the ER so it’s able to handle deliveries. That’s one of the items that is needed for that.”
Other items on the wish list include a spirometer for the respiratory therapist, two oximeters to measure oxygen levels overnight, and a bariatric stretcher. Backman said this is for those who have mobility issues. The stretcher can be in a standing position, and the patient will be able to lean against it and then be laid back hydraulically. This device ensures that no manual lifting is necessary, which makes things much easier for staff as well as patients.
“We also want to buy a Visio mattress for one of the rooms,” said Backman. “We’ll probably be buying these for a couple of years, because they’re very expensive. They’re important for patients, to prevent bed sores. For patients that are bedridden, these mattresses reduce the chance of bedsores developing. They’re very expensive but they’re very necessary.”
Backman was pleased to add that recently, the CCHF board met with the Minister of Health, and he agreed a 10-year plan is needed for the hospital. Backman said the Minister agreed to make resources available so the CCHF can develop a plan, in conjunction with “some people from the Department of Health”.
“It will be a made in St. Stephen plan, not a made in Horizon plan,” said Backman. “That was a really positive thing. In that 10-year plan, we’ll have plans for equipment upgrades, and maybe even some remodeling of the hospital to make it more modern and useful. We’ll be doing that based on community needs, so we’ll be looking to the community for input as well. We’ll look at the actual forecast for the services we actually need and not the services we are told we can get.”
Backman said things will look a bit different this year, but the need for support from the community is still the same. Unlike other hospital foundations, CCHF doesn’t rely on corporate donations, something that was noted by the Minister of Health.
“That says things to the politicians. It’s important to donate. It doesn’t matter how small the donation is. The fact that you made a donation shows community support for the hospital. That goes to the staff as well. They really need to hear that they’re wanted,” said Backman.
The CCHF is hoping to raise around $95,000 during this years event. Backman said he understands with the challenges of COVID-19, people may have less disposable income to contribute, but any amount will be greatly appreciated. The foundation members understand they may not be able to achieve their goal, but that isn’t going to stop them from trying to get as close to it as possible.
The Radiothon is happening on Thursday, October 8 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. There will be volunteers manning the phones as usual, but due to the fact that there will be fewer volunteers, there will be fewer lines open. If you call and get a busy signal, keep trying, and you will eventually get through so you can make your donation.
“We’ll have volunteers manning the phones as usual. So, people can call in and make donations, or we can take it online with Mastercard or Visa. Or, they can mail a check in. You can make the donations online by going to the website, www.cchfcares.ca
“There will be fewer volunteers because of social distancing. The inside of the radio station will be limited, so there won’t be any traffic going inside the station except the volunteers,” said Backman. “They’ll have to social distance and wear the appropriate protective equipment. Normally, we have six lines, but this year we’ll have four.”
The numbers to call if you want to make a donation are 466-1000 and 466-2222.