Michael Bernard Fitzgerald headlines the Citadel's cabaret series.
Words: Barry Strader
It’s a tough go right now for charitable organizations in Alberta with the province still in the midst of an economic downturn.
Despite the conditions, Albertans gave with their hearts and their wallets to ATB Financial’s 2016 Teddy for a Toonie campaign to the tune of $804,000. That puts ATB’s total at over $8.4 million raised for children’s health in Alberta during the last 17 years.
The Alberta Children’s Hospital will use its Teddy for a Toonie funds to further develop its KidSIM simulation program—which allows medical teams to take part in simulations of life-threatening situations for pediatric patients—as well as life-saving equipment such as extracorporeal life support and cardio-respiratory monitors.
“With KidSIM, practice makes perfect,” said Saifa Koonar, President & CEO, Alberta Children’s Hospital. “From specialists, doctors, nurses, students, they’re getting trained on real-life emergencies. So when we do have critical cases, they are prepared.”
The hospital has simulation rooms with all the same equipment you would find in an operating room or an intensive care unit. Training teams are given different scenarios, perform the tasks needed and debrief when it’s over.
“It’s like they are pilots,” said Koonar. “They use simulators to build confidence for different situations.”
At the Stollery, funds raised through Teddy for a Toonie will purchase automated medication administration equipment, such as syringe pumps, so that health professionals can inject the exact amount of medication needed for small children.
“This is one of the most impactful things we could have raised money for,” said Mike House, president & CEO, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. “If you’re a baby who’s 26 weeks premature and you weigh two and a half pounds, you need more than just eyeballing micrograms of medicine. You need precise, digital, top-of-the-line equipment to ensure that medicine, or combinations of medicine, are being dispersed in a way that doesn’t harm the child and, in fact, helps the child.”
ATB team members raised money in their own communities with events like Bollywood nights, country carnivals, spin classes, ping pong tournaments and the ever-popular “dunk a banker.” The support from team members and customers was then matched with a corporate donation from ATB Financial.
“We’re always grateful, but in times like these, the community continues to rally around the hospital and it’s that much more inspiring to us,” said Koonar. “It’s a pretty special group of people at ATB. We’re inspired by the creativity, the passion and the commitment of the staff and clients.”
House believes Teddy for a Toonie is about much more than raising money for children’s health. He says the annual campaign each May does even more to raise awareness for Alberta’s two children’s hospitals.
“I’m so enthusiastic about the great engagement ATB had with their employees and ultimately with their customers and their communities,” said House. “I think the results show that very clearly. We’re so proud to be associated with such creative, thoughtful individuals. It’s customized to where they live and what their passions are. It always gets many people involved.”