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Generosity, even in tough times, humbling for Niagara Health

Posted Dec 14th, 2023

This is an opinion column by Niagara Health President and Chief Executive Officer, Lynn Guerriero and Niagara Health Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Scott, published in the St. Catharines StandardNiagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune

This year has been a challenge for so many of us.

Life was supposed to be easier after the pandemic, and while we’re thankful for being able to do the activities we hold dear, like gathering with friends and family, there has been no shortage of new hardships.

The cost of living has skyrocketed, making everything from trips to the grocery store to paying rent or a mortgage a hand-wringing experience.

And yet, with the unprecedented financial pressures people face, Niagara continues to pull together for remarkable acts of generosity. We see it every day here at Niagara Health and Niagara Health Foundation as people find ways to support the important, life-saving work we do.

Over the past year, Niagara Health Foundation has witnessed remarkable strides toward advancing healthcare initiatives throughout the region. The community’s support is evident, with more than 20 “Founding Donors” pledging more than $62 million toward the new South Niagara hospital to open in Niagara Falls in 2028. This marks a significant milestone in our journey toward bringing Niagara a new, world-class healthcare facility.

Fundraising efforts were further bolstered by Greg and Diane Slaight, whose monumental $60-million gift to support priority equipment needs represents the largest single donation received by the foundation. These types of major gifts are transformational for our hospitals and the quality of patient care we provide.

Local governments are also supporting the South Niagara hospital, which will serve as a centre of excellence for complex care, stroke care and wellness in aging, with 469 beds, eight operating suites and 42 hemodialysis stations.

In 2023, the City of Niagara Falls pledged $30 million in local share contributions for the new hospital. That’s on top of the $11-million land parcel it donated at Biggar and Montrose roads to be home to this incredible facility that will serve us for generations. Niagara Region has also committed $44 million toward the hospital, and Fort Erie has agreed to contribute at least $3 million.

Every donation counts. Every donation, big and small, ensures we have everything needed for quality hospital care in Niagara, from sheets on patient beds to state-of-the-art MRI machines and everything in between.

Hospitals in Ontario must find their own funding to buy and maintain equipment. That means those expenditures are almost exclusively funded by donations from the community.

That’s why we’re also grateful to the nearly 1,000 participants and thousands more family and friends who attended our Kids Ultimate Challenge in June, making it our largest event to date.

We’re heartened by young donors, like eight-year-old Paolo, who asked for donations for Walker Family Cancer Centre instead of gifts for his birthday in October. He raised an incredible $300 for the foundation.

Then there’s Alan, a new Niagara resident, who recently became a monthly foundation donor. Alan supports and gives to many causes, but his local hospital has always been a priority.

Gifts like these enabled us to purchase 17 neonatal vital sign monitors, new and upgraded MRIs, an electrocardiography (ECG) machine, nine transportation ventilators, three washer-disinfectors to sterilization supplies, equipment and instruments, and four new breast boards this year.

Donations also support education and cutting-edge research at Niagara Health that improve standards of care around the world. The list goes on and so does the need.

Thank you to every single one of our donors. It’s an understatement to say we appreciate your ongoing, necessary support, especially now when so many worthy causes need help.

As individuals and families choose the charities they will donate to during this season of giving, we hope the acts and impact of others, like those mentioned here, inspire you to invest in extraordinary healthcare.

Niagara Health System