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Professional Firefighters of Greater Victoria pledge half a million for Victoria’s sick children

Announcement came with a drive past Victoria General’s pediatric unit

A motorcade of Greater Victoria fire trucks brought a memorable sight to patients at the Victoria General Hospital on Nov. 4, as well as a donation and pledge totalling $500,000 over 20 years for its pediatric unit.

“Nothing is more exciting than being here and seeing the staff we help equip and the children and families who directly benefit from this donation,” said Saanich Fire Department’s Bonnie Fiala following the drive-by of Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Victoria fire engines.

As members of the Professional Firefighters of Greater Victoria Community Foundation, their departments announced a pledge to raise $250,000 over 10 years for Victoria General Hospital’s pediatric unit Thursday morning, after completing and donating an identical pledge in March.

Director of Victoria General’s clinical operations Gillian Kozinka said the foundation’s donations help keep sick children closer to their families on Vancouver Island, “which is so important for a family in crisis.” Her hospital is the second most depended on for specialized newborn care in the province, she said, as one of four equipped for such. “This pledge is more than a gesture, it’s life-saving equipment,” Kozinka said. It has improved the stock of ventilators, heart ultrasounds, and patient monitors.

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One Victoria family recently requiring medical travel was Britt and Jeff Shannon. Their one-year-old son, Franklin, suffered hydrocephalus as the result of a brain bleed and required surgery in Vancouver following his diagnosis in Victoria. “We’d do (the travel) no matter what,” Jeff said. “But I can imagine for a lot of people, it’s super difficult having to shuffle back and forth once a week for a couple of months. It was a slog.” Both he and Britt said they were grateful for the donation to their pediatric care unit.

Along with the pediatric unit, Kozinka said the emergency departments of Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals are in great need for additional funding. According to the hospital foundation’s website, both hospitals see a combined 320 patients per day, an increase of 13 per cent over the last five years. “The emergency department being the front door of the hospital, we have a campaign going on for them as well,” she said.

Scott McMillan, a firefighter and executive of the Esquimalt Firefighters Charity Foundation, said he was proud of his peer’s pledge of half a million dollars over 20 years to children’s health care in Victoria. Fundraising methods varied throughout communities, he said, from Oak Bay’s Sausage Fest to Saanich’s Rock and Roll for Little Souls and Victoria’s firefighter calendar sales.

Looking at a decade of work, 2021 proved a challenging year for fundraising, McMillan continued. “But in our jobs … when things get challenging, that’s when we tend to put our best foot forward. And our community really steps up,” he said. “Everyone at the Victoria Hospitals Foundation does a great job to keep us on track.”

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