Annual QEH/Eastlink Telethon underway

Jim Day
Published on May 24, 2014

The asking never ends.

The annual QEH/Eastlink Telethon may only run 18 hours each year, but the request for money to pump into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is ongoing.

Barb Dunphy, executive director of the QEH Foundation, says community groups and organizations are fundraising throughout the year for the province’s main hospital.

This weekend’s telethon, she explains, serves as a sort of celebration to ongoing fundraising efforts needed to purchase new equipment upon new equipment.



“I think Islanders want new equipment and they deserve it — they’re worth it,’’ says Dunphy.

“So I think in order to do that we need to be always fundraising and I know people say the QEH Foundation is always looking for money, and that is true. And the reason that we are looking for money is that Islanders are worth the medical equipment that we require here.’’

No fundraising target is ever set for the telethon, which airs on Eastlink TV today from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, each telethon has been able to top the tally of the one before.

Last year, a total of $638,607 was raised, bringing the total for the first 17 telethons to approximately $6.4 million. That money has bought a good deal of needed equipment over the years.

Proceeds from this year’s telethon will help purchase needed medical equipment for the operating room, physical medicine, stroke care, the QEH provincial lab, along with many other important areas of the hospital.

Jamie MacDonald, the QEH’s chief administrative officer, says equipment needs are reviewed and prioritized on an annual basis.

“So when we look at our wish list for equipment, we look at technology that can provide additional support,’’ she says.

“So can we purchase equipment that would perhaps make operating procedures less invasive and more minimal and less risk aversive to the patient? Can we provide timely treatments in a quicker fashion or in an alternative method?’’

MacDonald says the wish list of equipment is never ending. As a result, fundraising never stops.

“So the QEH, we’re always looking for money,’’ she says.

“We have wonderful hospital staff in our facility and we keep those hospital staff by providing a great environment (and) by providing equipment that they are able to do their job most effectively with as well.”

Dunphy praises the public for stepping up time and again to help the hospital.

The telethon is a prime example. Hundreds of volunteers are involved in the annual televised fundraiser. Many, many others simply dig into their pockets to contribute to the cause.

“I think it shows the importance of the QEH to all Islanders,’’ she says. “They’ll do their part, whatever it is, however much it is. It all adds up either in time or in dollars.’’

Marlene MacDonald (no relation to Jamie MacDoanld) has certainly put in more than her share of volunteer time. She has hosted the telethon from day one. She is on the air, each year, for the full 18 hours that are split evenly on a Saturday and a Sunday.

“It’s an adrenaline rush and you don’t get tired while you are there because there’s lots of excitement,’’ she says. “There’s lots of fun but sometimes you’ll see tears there.’’

Moving stories from former patients of the hospital are always a highlight of the telethon that also includes comedy and Island entertainers.

Nancy Rackham’s story is among those being shared on air over the weekend.

The 70-year-old Wheatley River woman had a stroke two years ago. After a close call, extensive rehabilitation, and a lot of determination, Rackham is now back at home with her husband Grant.

Although she has reduced mobility on her right side, her speech and communication have improved significantly.

Rackham only has praise for the compassionate and professional care she received during her two-month stay at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“What I remember is they all treated me good,’’ she says.

Grant was very impressed with the care, including speech therapy and physiotherapy, provided to his wife. He was also comforted by the time that doctors and staff took to keep him well informed on all aspects of his wife’s condition and care.

“They looked after her wonderfully,’’ says Grant, who credits Dr. Patrick Burgon with saving his life following a heart attack in 2001.

“I hope that everybody that can will support the QEH/Eastlink Telethon as best as they can for this year and for years to come.’’

Telethon chairman Chris Whitlock says this weekend is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the importance of investing in not only the QEH but also ultimately the healthcare of family, friends and neighbours.

“Gifts of all sizes combined make a significant impact, and it is only with your help that we can continue to care for all Islanders who find themselves in need of the QEH,’’ says Whitlock.

“Anyone wishing to make a pledge over the weekend can call toll-free 1-877-675-3343.’’

Marlene MacDonald continues to marvel at the telethon’s tremendous success as the fundraising tally manages to grow each year.

“And you almost wonder like where is our saturation point?’’ she asks.

“We’re a small province. Obviously, we’re a very giving province.’’

Shopping list

Here is some of the priority equipment expected to be purchased with funds raised from this weekend's QEH/Eastlink Telethon:

-- Operating room tables at $70,000 a piece.

-- 10 examination tables for the pediatrics clinic costing $1,500 each.

-- Two lab coagulation instruments at $150,000 a piece.

-- Instrument washer disinfector and lare capacity washer disinfector for combined cost of $300,000.

-- A $35,000 Dynamic stair trainer.

Ongoing upgrades

Annual QEH telethon has raised millions of dollars for needed hospital equipment