Kelowna General Hospital will join the ranks of some of the most advanced health care facilities in the country by the fall of 2019 when on-site, short-term accommodations will be available to families of patients travelling for specialized medical care.
The KGH Foundation officially announced the start of a two-year Better Together campaign today to raise the $8 million necessary to open JoeAnna’s House, an urgently needed home away from home to keep families together when they need it most.
“It’s no longer the case that patients and children requiring advanced care are travelling to Vancouver, Calgary or Victoria,” said Dr. Michael Ertel, a longstanding Emergency Department physician at KGH and vice-president of medicine and quality for Interior Health.
“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.”
JoeAnna’s House will be a home with approximately 20 rooms to house up to 20 families.
“I was told to pack my bags for two days,” recalled 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,” noted 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 are at an all-time low, and often the financial burden without our assistance is simply too overwhelming.”
“We are thrilled to finally announce this campaign,” added KGH Foundation chief executive officer Doug Rankmore.
“We know it will be a real barn-raiser in our community, and are so grateful to the Huber family and Prestige Hotels & Resorts for their leadership in initiating the project.”
The Kelowna-based Huber family has committed $1 million to support the construction of JoeAnna’s House in honor of their late parents, Josef and Anna Huber.
“Kelowna is a caring community that always pulls together in difficult times,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. ”I know we’re going to pull together for JoeAnna’s House so that families going through a difficult time have a sanctuary where they can be together when they need it the most.”
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.