Janice Perrino prepares a string of lights during a previous year’s Tree of Dreams campaign.

South Okanagan medical foundation Tree of Dreams campaign kicks off

South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation is hoping the 2013 Tree of Dreams campaign will reach its fundraising goal early this year.

With a  little luck and a lot of goodwill, the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation is hoping the 2013 Tree of Dreams campaign will reach its fundraising goal early this year.

“We are on the right track and hopefully we will get the campaign done by maybe the end of December if we are really lucky. If not, then end of January,” said executive director Janice Perrino.

This fundraising campaign, to upgrade the X-ray equipment at Penticton Regional Hospital, got underway in June with a goal of $1.5 million. Perrino said just over $1 million has been raised and she is hoping people will come together in the Christmas campaign to raise the balance of $410,000 and have the equipment in PRH by the summer of 2014.

“We’re on a good path. Lots of people have come forward, now we just have to finish it up,” she said.

The plan is to change the hospital’s three X-ray labs as well as the portable unit used in the emergency department and intensive care unit over to digital radiography, where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of the traditional cassettes.

“That way the entire imaging department will be digital,” said Perrino. Switching to digital X-ray equipment brings several benefits. For the doctors the images are clearer and easier to read, and for patients, they are exposed to less radiation and it takes less time.

“The reason these machines are so important is because they actually do the bulk of the diagnostic work for us. These machines are used around the clock,” said Perrino. “Everything from a chest infection to cancer to a broken leg to any kind of trauma injury, everything.”

Even though the hospital will be expanding with a new tower in the next few years, Perrino said it is important to get this equipment up to date.

“When the new tower comes on, this department will stay where they are. We are feeling very comfortable about getting these right up to speed so when we go into the campaign for the new tower, this will be at least where it needs to be.”

And when the X-ray equipment is replaced, the hospital’s entire suite of imaging equipment will have been upgraded.

“MRI, CT scanner, mammography, yes, we have done it all. Isn’t that something?” said Perrino. “When I came in 2005, my very first project was the MRI machine, and then the mammography and then the CT, and now these three rooms, so I am feeling good about it.”

This is also the eighth year for the Tree of Dreams campaign.  Perrino said it’s a great way to keep the public involved, not just informed about what is going on at the hospital, but with the campaign as they watch the tree on top of the hospital lighting up, string by string of lights as more funds are raised.