Penticton hospital campaign has high hopes

South Okanagan Similkameen Hospital Foundation looks to raise $632,000 through Tree of Dreams campaign

Now that Halloween is over, it’s nearly time for the annual Tree of Dreams campaign to begin.

Or, as Janice Perrino, executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Hospital Foundation, said, people can start donating to the campaign anytime they like.

While the campaign officially begins later this month, with the distribution of the brochures, and the first lights will go up on the tree on the roof of the hospital at the beginning of December, the campaign can use the extra time.

That’s because, Perrino explained, when they asked the doctors and staff at Penticton Regional Hospital what they wanted for Christmas this year, they got a long list, both of equipment that needs replacing and new equipment that will raise the standard of care even higher at Penticton Regional Hospital. Everything on the list, Perrino said, is an essential need, resulting in this year’s theme, Essentials for Excellence.

But the total cost of everything needed for this campaign is higher, a lot higher, than they have ever tried to generate through the annual Christmas campaign before.

“We are actually looking for about $632,000,” said Perrino. “It depends on what else comes in at the time, but generally at Christmas we can go to a maximum of about $400,000, that is about the limit for us.”

Perrino expects they will need to continue the campaign until at least March, but hopes the bulk of the funds can be raised over Christmas. Perrino said they know the hospital is only asking for equipment they need to do a better job, and the medical foundation didn’t want to have to say no to parts of the list.

“We just felt like, ‘we are going to do the best we can for you.’ Hopefully there will be some donations that will come in after Christmas that we can add to it,” said Perrino. “It’s not going to be just Christmas, it is going to go right through to March, April, whatever we need.”

The list contains everyday items, like stretchers and a new operating table for use in Summerland, as well as a second sentinel node probe, which allows surgeons performing breast cancer surgery to determine how far the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes under the arm.

“We can check how many lymph nodes are infected by cancer and we only remove as many as we need to. Surgeons used to remove anywhere between 10 and 30, and today, if you only have one lymph node involved, the surgeon only takes out one,” said Perrino. “We realized it was so good, we now use it all the time. But we can only use it once a day. Well, the hospital does sometimes as many as 250 breast cancer surgeries a year, so we need to have more than one probe.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the PRH Christmas list also includes some examples of the latest technology, like an ear, nose and throat navigation system,  described as a new way to perform sinus surgery that is both more accurate and less invasive. For patients, Perrino said that means a safer operation, with less  post-op bruising and faster healing.

Other items include a bronchoscope, used to diagnose diseases of the lungs, seven adjustable renal dialysis treatment chairs, two cardiac defibrillators for the emergency department, a hypo/hyperthermia unit, used in intensive care for patients after suffering a cardiac arrest and a special ultrasound probe that can assess nerve involvement during surgery.


“When you think today what surgeries cost and providing diagnosis and treatments of cancer, it’s huge. And really the government today can’t afford what needs to be done and that’s why foundations have become such an important part of what happens at a hospital,” said Perrino, adding that the brochure describing the seventh annual Tree of Dreams campaign will go to every home throughout the region covered by the hospital. “We just hope to do as much as we can. We know it is tough for people.”