The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Auxiliary is heading for a major milestone at an even greater pace with the recent relocation and revamping of Lillibet’s Gift Shop and the Royal Pantry Eatery in the newly expanded QEH in Charlottetown.
“We’re almost at the $4-million mark,” says Dorothy Johnston, who is president of the QEH Auxiliary, which is one of the major contributors to hospital equipment and services.
Auxiliary members, many of whom have been with the organization since its formation in 1981, worked closely with the contractors prior to construction to identify the needs, such as security cameras, shelving and product storage, for the new gift shop and eatery.
“We have continually, like any business, tried to upgrade the storefront,” Johnston says.
Lillibet’s officially opened in September, and the Royal Pantry opened in October
The product line in both has been expanded; in the café this translates into a more health-conscious menu that includes items like yogurt and gluten-free products.
The new menu also offers an expanded product line, such as pizza, omelets, soups, chowders and more.
“It has substantially increased its revenue, especially with the move,” Johnston says of the eatery.
Money raised from these two primarily volunteer-run businesses is funneled back into the hospital in the form of equipment and services.
“We invest the money and make interest on it. We pick a project and then we work extremely hard, with the help of all our volunteers (to reach that goal),” Johnston says.
One of those goals was the purchase of the first mammography machine on the Island; another was the digital mammography machine, which at a cost of $800,000 was the largest project to date.
One recent purchase was minimally invasive gynecological surgical equipment, to which the QEH Auxiliary committed $200,000 toward the purchase of in 2012.
Dr. Shawn Ferguson, who has worked as a gynecologist at the QEH for the past five years, has seen the difference the new equipment has made in the lives of P.E.I. women who have to have a hysterectomy, for example.
“This equipment is to further our availability of minimally invasive surgery; so being able to do surgeries that were classically large incision surgeries into smaller port surgeries, basically laparoscopic instead of a big incision . . . ,” he says.
“The biggest factor for patients is recovery time. Where you’d traditionally be in hospital for four to five days and off work for six to eight weeks you’re one night in the hospital, home the next day and you’re back to work, depending on the person’s job, within a couple of weeks. It really is a big difference, so people can regain their quality of life much sooner. So it’s much, much better for patients.”
The QEH Auxiliary has recently accepted the challenge of raising $80,400 for equipment, such as new lifts and chairs, which will make patients’ stays more comfortable and aid staff.
“We’re very fortunate to have the volunteers that we have in order to allow this to happen. I can’t stress enough the impact of these people — their strength, commitment and willingness is what is making it all work,” Johnston says.
“It’s a lot of people doing a lot of work for the community.”