The COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its mark on the professional life of Karen Morgan.
The president of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Healthcare Foundation still works for home, rather than her office at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, with plans to return there at the end of the month.
As she looks back, she recalls the wide-spread sense of uncertainty and fear around the illness itself and the state of the economy, factors that all influenced the work of the foundation in raising funds for equipment, facilities and programs at the hospital. But the last few months also revealed the generosity of the public, be it through donations toward the foundation or messages of support.
“The outpouring of support during this time has been very touching and it has reminded me of what a great community this is,” she said.
On a general level, COVID-19 has simultaneously confirmed the need for a philanthropic sector raising funds for medical professionals, while hurting it. Donations generally drop during tough economic times and pandemic-related bans on large public gathering limit funding raising opportunities themselves as the foundation found when it had to cancel its Bed Races on Beacon event.
“But our director of philanthropy, Jan Buehler, did a wonderful pivot and came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt, and we got incredible cooperation from sponsors and we were able to do something that was fun, that included participants of all ages, and still allowed them to social distance, to travel around in their bubbles, and do the challenges at each site,” said Morgan. “It was a remarkable success.”
The event, which happened on Aug. 30 across the Saanich Peninsula, raised almost as much as the bed races, bringing in just over $10,000, said Morgan, adding that donations are still coming into the foundation.
Morgan said the foundation also has done a lot more to leverage digital tools. “We sent out regular emails to donors, and updates, both by email and Facebook,” she said. “It made a huge difference. People were paying to the messages they got.”
This digital response had an analog equivalent through the countless signals of support from community members to hospital staff and administration.
“I just cannot get over the messages of appreciation that we have received and the ways in which people have shown their appreciation for health care workers at the hospital and in the community,” she said.
Morgan witnessed this dedication herself earlier this month again, when she attended a celebration in honour of a Sidney neighbourhood, where residents had spent months showing support for health care workers by regularly banging their pots and pans at 7 p.m. each evening.
“It was a lovely event, and all of them expressed such appreciation for the ways in which our health care workers were making sure that we are looked after,” she said.
Other sectors of the Saanich Peninsula community showed their support in other ways. “They helped us source some masks and a number of distilleries assisted with donations of hand sanitizers,” said Morgan. “And we had really strong support for things like getting iPads, so people in long-term and palliative care could have virtual visits.”
Overall, Morgan remains impressed by the community’s response.
“The most important thing for us to highlight is how generous and supportive the community has been over the last six months, since we entered this phase of dealing with COVID-19,” she said.
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