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Lori Gadsden, President of the Elk Valley Hospital Foundation
With the Mardi Gras Masquerade fast approaching—the highly anticipated annual fundraising event held by the Elk Valley Hospital Foundation—I thought it fitting to chat with members of this organization to learn more about its mandate and importance in our community and to feature highly involved current president Dr. Lori Gadsden.
Lori first sat on the board nearly ten years ago when Dr. Susan Rohn, one of the founding members, needed to step down and was looking for a medical liaison. Understanding the value it offered to both the community overall and the hospital community itself, Lori decided it was an important organization to get behind. “At the time there were a lot of hospital personnel on the board so there was a great positive vibe, and it was fun,” she remembers.
There was a lot of momentum at that time, and it helped that the process was much easier. Interior Health hadn’t made the move to centralized healthcare so the foundation was able to purchase equipment the doctors and nurses requested, and it remained at the Fernie Hospital.
As BC’s healthcare system has changed, so has the process. The Cranbrook hospital became the larger hub and revamped as the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, while Fernie became the Elk Valley Hospital. The Elk Valley Hospital Foundation now has to submit requests from predetermined lists produced by Interior Health Association (IHA) budget, deciding on the level of care needed at particular hospitals, and get approval.
“Before IHA was involved we could have equipment within two weeks. Now it’s a yearly review, a big budget, that has to go through the bureaucratic chain with a lot of red tape but at least if you have a foundation it can help the hospital work through this,” Lori notes.
What exactly does this mean for Fernie then? Once, when I was 16, I bruised a kidney doing something ridiculous (I’ll spare you the embarrassing details) and it was a hop, skip and a jump to the Fernie Hospital to use its own ultrasound machine. No longer the case, now I would have to head to Cranbrook once an appointment has been confirmed. When the results came in my doctor called the high school to inform the school that I indeed needed to go home to rest—fortunately this level of care still exists in the small town of Fernie, regardless of red tape and bureaucratic processes.
“It’s been a learning process with a few trials and tribulations,” says Lori of the changes “but we’ve come a long way in the last five years. The Foundation is even more important now, with this large centralized budget, to ensure equipment stays in the Valley vs. be shipped to Cranbrook.”
Pat Moore, another one of the founding members, and Aysha Haines inform me that they try to use funding to purchase smaller items on the list provided by IHA. This facilitate the larger items moving up the list, which will hopefully be provided for by IHA. Having medical professionals like Lori on the board adds a personal touch to the process, as it allows people working in the field to pass on new information and needs, allowing the Foundation to address individual requests that make everyone’s life easier.
Like every organization, there are ups and downs. “Everything waxes and wanes,” admits Lori, “ and it seems that right now, most organized groups are having a little slump in volunteer participation.”
How can we help? We can volunteer to sit on the board, volunteer to help at their annual (now moving to bi-annual) fundraising event, or even just purchase tickets and attend the Masquerade – they promise an amazing time with dinner, music, bar and more (I believe they have some surprises up their sleeves…). The event is October 27 at the Community Centre, tickets can be purchased at Ghostrider Trading, Stephanie’s Glass and the Elk Valley Hospital.
Having raised over $400,000 over the last 12 years, the Elk Valley Hospital Foundation is definitely a worthy organization to get behind. “To see the pieces of equipment being used, and to be thanked by the people using it is my reward,” says Lori.
1. When did you arrive in Fernie and what brought you here? 1999, and a job brought me here: a maternity cover for Lisa Tessler. I was only supposed to come for six months… I’m sure you’ve heard that before!
2. Where did you first live in Fernie? A miner shack on 13th and 1st—three houses in from the railway crossing.
3. What was your first impression? Our first impression—we had done a road trip the April prior and stayed at the B&B at the end of 3rd Ave. We came in late and wanted to go for dinner and nothing was open and thought, “Oh my gosh, nothing is opened past 8:30! It’s a ghost town!”
4. Do you have a favourite Fernie memory? Probably the first time I did Heiko’s Trail with Kevin and a good friend Monica. Halfway you can look down at the Fernie townsite, or look up and you’re in the beautiful Bisaro glen. I was thinking it was the most awesome thing to be doing on any given Saturday.
5. What is your favourite time of the year in Fernie and why? Fall, because you can still do everything. I like to mountain bike, but not in the extreme heat. And hiking in the fall, with the leaves. There’s nothing like it.
6. Where do you see Fernie in 5 to 10 years? There’s so many neat things going on. I hope it doesn’t change too, too much. I would like to see it a bit bigger, with more events like Wapiti and Tears & Gears attracting more people that come and go. Fernie is becoming more of a community. At one point a lot of houses sold to second homeowners and there was a polarization, but this has lessoned – people just want to live here.
7. How do you start your day or what is one of your daily rituals? Waking up, looking out the window at the mountains, having a coffee, letting the dogs out for a walk and sitting on my deck. And remembering never to take it for granted.
8. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you. I’m a serious dork and closet gamer. I love all word games and will be up at all hours playing boggle. But if you know whom I’m married to you won’t be too surprised.
9. Quote to live by: Don’t worry, be happy! It’s important for me as I tend to sweat the small stuff!