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Innisfail raises $10,000 for right-sized ambulance bay

About $60,000 needed to create wider ambulance bay at Innisfail Health Centre

INNISFAIL — For the past several months ladies from the Innisfail Health Centre Auxiliary have quietly but with full determination been on a mission to make matters better for sick or injured citizens arriving or leaving the local hospital by ambulance.

The single ambulance bay beside the Innisfail Health Centre’s emergency entrance is currently 2.95 meters high and 2.95 meters wide. The ambulance bay’s width is not enough for newer ambulances to drive in.

This creates many cases where injured or sick people often have to be transported into the hospital from outside the ambulance bay, even on days or nights of inclement weather.

“If you are a patient and you’re coming in during the wintertime and they are going to unload you outside no matter what the weather, there's just no privacy for the patient coming in or going,” said Rose Winters, president of the hospital auxiliary that initiated the charge to have the ambulance bay issue addressed.

The concern by Winters and the volunteer ladies of the hospital auxiliary helped convince hospital staff to launch a 50/50 draw to raise funds for the Ambulance Bay Upgrade Project. From May 11 to June 30 a total of 12,470 tickets were purchased by Innisfailians and many others from out of town.

On June 30, in front of the ambulance bay, a crowd of hospital employees - including doctors, nurses and administration staff - gathered outside to hear the announcement of the winning ticket from the online draw.

The sold-out raffle raised $20,000. Innisfailian Sandy Kathan was declared the winner, and was immediately called by hospital staff.
Kathan will collect $10,000 while the other $10,000 goes to the Ambulance Bay Renovation Project.

Those funds, and future monies collected, will be safely administered by Innisfail Health Centre staff until about $60,000 is raised to create a wider ambulance bay.

John Barry, general manager Medavie Health Services West – the ambulance service for the Town of Innisfail, said the ambulance bay renovation will make a substantial difference for his drivers. He added it has been at least two and half years since his ambulance service has been able to use the current ambulance bay.

“We've been taking people through the front door, and that's obviously not good for patient care,” said Barry, adding the renovation project should have the ambulance bay expanded by at least a foot on each side.

Dr. Jesse Christiansen, who works at the hospital as well as at his Innisfail Medical Clinic, considers the ambulance bay renovation initiative a worthwhile community building project, one that will have a significant impact for many citizens.

“I think getting everybody involved and making them feel like they're a part of the process will really make a difference for the community,” said Christiansen.

He added ambulance drivers have been “stretched pretty thin over the past few years and it was also important to move on the ambulance bay renovation project to make their jobs a little bit easier.

“I see them out here in the rain, and then the cold in the winter moving patients in and out, so probably this (project) will help the ambulance drivers,” said Christiansen, adding it will be of immense value to patients as well.

“When you’re outside at minus 40 getting in and out of the ambulance, it is probably not the best for the patient," he added. "Being able to do the transfers inside where it's warm, you're not getting rained on. That's important.”