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$2M is strictly for equipment, foundations says
Becoming the holders of the $2-million earmarked for a PET scanner for the new regional hospital in Corner Broom came fairly quickly for the Western Regional Hospital Foundation.
In a news release issued last Saturday, one day after Health Minister Dr. John Haggie and Corner Brook MHA Gerry Byrne announced the province was putting $2 million in a trust to be held by the foundation, chair Jamie Fowlow said the foundation is honoured to be appointed as the custodian of that money.
“This piece of equipment is not only a win for residents of the western region, but for the entire province, reducing wait times and providing critical backup in the event of equipment downtime,” he stated.
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Fowlow declined to comment further on the matter when contacted by SaltWire Network on Tuesday, and said it was a new undertaking for the foundation and there were still some details to be worked out. He directed inquiries to the foundation’s executive director, Suzanne Carey.
“There wasn’t a big leadup to it,” Carey said when asked when the foundation got involved in the process.
But she said it was something the foundation was interested in doing.
“We’re happy to do it because the government works with us every year and provides radiothon matching dollars and they’ve been very good to us,” she said.
“We always want to be in the front of anything that’s going to benefit people on the west coast, and this certainly sounds like it’s a future endeavour to purchase something that many people in this area see as necessary.”
The Foundation would like to share Government's announcement that they have earmarked $2 Million dollars for a PET...Posted by Western Regional Hospital Foundation on Friday, January 15, 2021
As holders of the money, the foundation’s role is simply that, holding the money, and a definite timeline on how long the arrangement will last has not been determined, Carey said.
As for questions about whether or not the $2 million will be enough to purchase a PET scanner, Carey said there has been no discussion on the possibility of the foundation getting involved to raise additional funds.
“From what I understand that money covers the full price of the equipment, so there would be no requirement or need for that.”
Out of curiosity, Carey said she has Googled the price of a PET scanner, and they seem to come in at less than the $2 million being put aside.
But not everyone agrees.
“In relation to the overall cost of a PET scanner, $2 million is a token amount and I think people in Corner Brook recognize that,” Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie said while making an unrelated policy announcement in St. John’s on Tuesday.
“We made a commitment the PET scanner, in accordance with the advice apparently received by (former) premier (Dwight) Ball, will go in there and we are not pussyfooting around on that,” he said.
Crosbie said it’s his party’s understanding that there’s an item around $50 million in the budget intended for new equipment for the hospital and that the PET scanner is to be paid for out of that.
“We don’t have to play tricks on the public, because the public doesn’t believe repeated promises not acted on like this chicanery with the $2 million in a trust account … which no one has ever heard the likes of in political history,” Crosbie said.
"We made a commitment the PET scanner ... and we are not pussyfooting around on that." — Ches Crosbie
He said under the PCs the PET scanner would go in when Western Health is ready to receive it and make good use of it.
Even though the foundation may not get involved in the purchase of the PET scanner, Carey said it has already expressed to Western Health its interest in getting involved in some sort of project for the new hospital.
She said this would help ensure there is equipment that comes to this hospital that may not necessarily have come otherwise.
Carey also stressed the $2 million has no impact on the foundation’s financial position.
“This is specifically for that one piece of equipment and it’s being held in trust for that.”
The foundation will continue its annual case for support and general fundraising, and will still accept money for palliative care and for long-term care.
“For all of these great causes that we’re always doing, nothing is going to change in that respect, and this $2 million isn’t covering our fundraising needs. This is completely separate from our annual campaigns.”
Diane Crocker reports on west coast news.
— With files from Barb Sweet.