KELOWNA, BC – Staff from the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Prestige Hotels & Resorts have braved the mountain passes this week with an important message for the thousands of families that call the Kootenays home – a promise that should they ever need to travel to Kelowna for advanced medical care, they will have a ‘home’ to come to.
This past October, the KGH Foundation officially announced the Better Together campaign to raise $8 million to build JoeAnna’s House, an urgently needed home-away-from-home to keep families together when they need it most. The goal is to have JoeAnna’s House open by October 2019.
“It’s no longer the case that patients and children requiring advanced care are travelling to Vancouver, Calgary or Victoria,” says Doug Rankmore, CEO of the KGH Foundation. “As the leading referral hospital for over 750,000 residents in the southern interior, at any given time, one in four beds at KGH is occupied by a patient from outside the Central Okanagan.”
“I was told to pack my bags for two days,” says Lisa Dear, a mother from Creston, whose newborn son Zacharias was transferred to KGH unexpectedly in the spring of 2016 at seven weeks premature. “I had no idea we would be in Kelowna for five weeks while Zach was in the NICU. Having JoeAnna’s House would have meant the world to me and my family and would have alleviated so much of the hardship we experienced during that incredibly difficult time.”
As Kelowna General continues to expand its capacity to provide advanced care in an increasing variety of medical specialties, housing the families of patients travelling for care has become a matter of growing concern.
“Finding accommodation for these families can be very challenging,” notes Gail Harrison, Past President and Grant Coordinator of Cops for Kids Charitable Foundation, an organization that has previously assisted in helping families like the Dears. “Hotel vacancies in Kelowna are at an all-time low, and often the financial burden without our assistance is simply too overwhelming.”
“We are deeply committed to achieving this fundraising goal,” says Tanya Stroinig, Executive Vice President of Prestige Hotels & Resorts. Owned and operated by the Huber family, the BC based hotel chain is credited for initiating the project with a gift of $1 million in honor of their late parents, Josef and Anna Huber. “The impact of having a sick child can be devastating in these small, close-knit communities. Everyone knows someone who’s had to travel for medical care. In addition to the terribly 2
difficult reality of having a sick child, the emotional and financial burden of travelling for care can be completely overwhelming.”
The team is hoping to generate enthusiasm for the project in the Kootenay communities. “We have an ambitious goal,” says Rankmore. “We’re going to need to come together, and work together as a region, to make it happen.”
The KGH Foundation is an independent, volunteer-driven charitable organization committed to enhancing the delivery of healthcare to the patients of Kelowna General Hospital and its associated facilities.
Prestige Hotels & Resorts is a family-owned chain of resorts, hotels and inns. In 12 locations throughout British Columbia, each resort, hotel, and inn offers the opportunity for a truly unique regional experience. For more information, please visit PrestigeHotelsandResorts.com