By Célina Ip
On March 1, phones were ringing of the hooks and funds were pooling through, as the community came together in support of the Pembroke Regional Hospital.
Taking place from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Pembroke Mall, local radio station 104.9 MyFM donated the airtime while Ottawa Valley personality Art Jamieson served as host for the first-ever Connecting to Care Radiothon in support of the Pembroke Regional Hospital (PRH) Foundation’s Cutting Edge Campaign.
“This is really a community-driven event from MyFM, from the Pembroke Mall and NRTC Communications who are all working together and now pulling in the rest of the community to make it a success,” said Nancy Warren, PRH Foundation executive director. “It’s a great fundraiser for the Cutting Edge Campaign to allow us to overhaul the surgical floor and support the orthopaedic program.”
Every hour, a different teams volunteers took their seats in front of the phones to answer calls and collect donations from listeners eager to donate. The radiothon welcomed a team of local emergency service responders, a team of mayors, a group of high school students and support from many other local groups.
“Every hour we have representation from different community groups including a team of our local mayors from around Renfrew County. So we’ll be seeing the mayors from Laurentian Valley, Petawawa, Pembroke, Laurentian Hills and a few others. It’ll be nice to see the whole area coming together,” said Warren.
By 6 p.m., the radiothon had hauled in more than $41,000. Among the larger contributions was a $4,165 donation from Champlain Vikings and $1,500 from the Council of Whitewater Region.
“Pembroke Mall is very happy to have partnered with the PRH to have this first-ever Connecting to Care Radiothon happening at the Pembroke Mall. It gives the hospital and opportunity to show the public what they have to offer, what their services are as well as raising money towards all of the necessary equipment and needs that they have at the hospital that serve all of us in this community,” said Pembroke Mall manager Jayne Brophy. “I was born at the Pembroke Regional Hospital – then called the Pembroke General – in 1962 so I have challenged all of my friends who were also born there to either donate the year we were born or the amount of our age – so I donated $56.”
The radiothon provided listeners with a unique opportunity to get acquainted with their hospital on a more personal level, as the show welcomed testimonials from a number of special guests – including PRH staff, physicians, former patients and donors – who shared heart-warming stories about how the hospital has positively impacted themselves or others over the years.
One of those stories came from Brophy who spoke about the hospital’s important role in serving people all across the region.
“I remember taking my mom to Ottawa for an MRI because we didn’t have that available here at the time. I had to take a day off from work, we had to travel to Ottawa and we had that expense. Now it’s just a matter of having an appointment and going to our own hospital in our own community and with services there for us, so that’s really important and that’s why this radiothon fundraiser is so important,” said Brophy. “The other thing I can say is that just like the Pembroke Mall is a regional shopping centre, the PRH is a regional hospital that serves people from all across the county and into the Pontiac.”
PRH’s Dr. John Epps, who works within the department of anaesthesia, spoke about his brighter future that the hospital will have upon upgrading the inpatient surgical floor
“I’ve been in Pembroke for 23 years, we moved here in 1993 and have never regretted it. I’ve worked in many operating rooms, old and new, and I’m so pleased to say goodbye to the old and work in these lovely new operating rooms,” said Epps. “As part of our program we’re hoping to now upgrade the surgical program areas where patients come in for daycare and stay overnight if they have to. So I’m looking very much forward to seeing that project completed.”
Another account came from Dr. Natasha Holder who spoke about how the funds raised from the radiothon will support the Cutting Edge Campaign’s mission to fund new orthopaedic equipment, which will rightly serve the area’s military community.
“Just knowing how soldiers need to train and the amount of injuries that they can encounter – namely, orthopaedic ones – I think it’s really essential that we have this service closer to base. Being in a military family, I know what it’s like to know that your loved one is away and to even have to undergo treatment somewhere that is not close to home,” said Holder. “I’m happy that we can provide that treatment closer to home so that they can recover closer to their family where they need to be.”
While the radiothon was broadcasted live from inside the Pembroke Mall, a number of musicians and bands – including the Red Hot Mamas, Gillian Rutz, Cheryl Sack, Sierra Levesque and many more – pulled out their instruments and jammed onstage to entertain mall-goers passing by.
Along with the live entertainment, PRH volunteers hosted a Teddy Bear Clinic where they invited kids to have their cuddly bears and stuffed animal friends checked out and treated.
PRH staff and physicians were also on hand to meet with the public and share interactive displays that showcased a variety of programs and services available at Pembroke Regional Hospital.
The displays shared information about diabetes prevention (on-site glucose testing), stroke prevention (on-site blood pressure tests), smoking cessation, mental health services, the Geriatric Day Hospital, infection prevention (handwashing techniques), volunteer services, human resources, the PRH Auxiliary and more. Many of the displays also featured interactive testing opportunities and other hands-on features. Several volunteers with the St. John Ambulance Volunteer Therapy Dog Program were also present, with their furry friends, to showcase the therapeutic services they provide to the PRH and retirement homes in the county.