Thank You for the Most Powerful Year

Caregivers say thank you

A commentary by Avery Brohman, CEO of the Victoria Hospitals ­Foundation

I write to you on the heels of April 1—a significant date for us that marks the beginning of our 2024/25 fiscal year. As I sit here and reflect on all the good you’ve done for our hospitals and community, I take an intentional and sincere pause to thank you. Over the last year, you poured your trust, time, and passion into our Foundation. You ignited a profound energy to advance change within the walls of the hospitals, for the betterment of our entire community. And, you’ve gone above the call of duty to celebrate our care teams—the care they provide first of all, but their drive and their dreams to bring about better healthcare, too. This period in time is special to us: we get to both revisit the incredible impact you have made in the last year, and build on this foundation as we look to the year ahead.

I start by acknowledging how good it is to be united with you. For the first time in our Foundation’s history, more than 6,000 donors are to be celebrated—this tells me the work we are leading is resonating deeply in our community. If you have championed care with us beyond this past year, please accept my overwhelming gratitude. If you have just joined us, thank you for believing in our cause, and welcome to our donor family. We are so glad you’re here.

As we take a look back, it was about a year ago that Dr. Alan Andrew, Department Head and Medical Director of Medical Imaging, and fellow radiologists came to me with a vision: to elevate imaging in our hospitals—and consequently every patient journey. They had a deeply rooted yearning to deliver advanced care and saw the way forward so clearly—so did we, and now so has our community. Hand-in-hand, we built our current campaign, Imaging is Power, to upgrade, if not transform, six equipment pieces at Royal Jubilee (RJH) and Victoria General (VGH) hospitals. What an impact we are making together to mitigate imaging wait times, reduce radiation for patients and caregivers alike, enable new enhanced procedures, and bring first-in-Canada technology right into our hospitals.

This past fiscal, some of you helped us fuel $8 million of Imaging is Powers $11 million goal, or supported a special area or equipment meaningful to you. Some of you donated of your time as a volunteer and contributed over 1,100 hours of volunteerism. Some brought heart and celebration by leading, sponsoring, or attending our two cause-driven galas. Others lent their voice, medical expertise, story or media channel to amplify our cause. All to say—you showed up in force.

I am so honored to know our community sees the need and opportunity to do better for and in our hospitals. I am equally inspired by the momentum we felt this past year, while also reassured—our community answers the call time and time again to support our care teams who never stop meeting the challenges they face every day.

Every time I walk in our hospitals and meet a patient, I reflect on the fact that they have touched at least one piece of equipment funded by caring community members like you— after all, 40% of the equipment we rely on is donor-funded; how special that is. Last year, we advanced new equipment like cardiac ultrasounds and a mitral valve system that is allowing first-on-the-Island procedures; surgical tools like a colonoscope and orthopedic sets to support emergency and elective procedures; diagnostic equipment including mobile X-Ray systems and biopsy tools; and specialized beds to increase capacity and enhanced care in our hospitals. Your giving is touching real people—the patient, and the caregiver, too.

One quote I remember fondly from this past year came from urologist Dr. Iain McAuley, “I have the immense privilege to be the conduit between a donor and a patient. When I hold a surgical tool in my hand and am about to proceed with a procedure, I always think of the donor that made this possible.”

The beautiful thing about this work, is that we get to witness this invisible thread that ties all of it, all of us, together. Caregivers grateful for donors. Donors grateful for caregivers. Patients grateful for caregivers, who then become donors. Caregivers that are donors themselves. A community united for the betterment of the community.

One of the celebrations I think back on from this past year is a testament to this. Last September, we celebrated an anonymous $3 million pledge and the creation of the Heather Simpson Scholarship, as part of our education mandate. In recognition of the extraordinary care Heather received during her 14-month stay at RJH, the scholarship lessens financial barriers for caregivers by funding 50 per cent of their annual tuition. This pledge, and the scholarship, are sending a powerful message within our hospitals: care teams are the pillars of our healthcare system—and there is a community of people that wants to lift them up.

This is a message that is omnipresent in the research projects we are championing alongside you—along with the desire to do and be better. I am happy to share that the Cognitive Health Initiative is continuing to make strides in integrating leading-edge research and care for patients living with cognitive health issues on Vancouver Island. I am also honoured to celebrate our commitment to the Vascular Risk and Prevention Clinic, and take part in SAVE BC, a preventative cardiac study, in conjunction with our peers in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Kelowna. These research projects will change the future of care, and it simply could not happen without your support.

We took intentional time to dive into all these equipment, education, and research needs over the past year. If you joined us for a hospital tour, the unveiling of our annual report and latest campaign, a cardiac event, the Uplands Golf Tournament, a coffee meeting, or via a CHEK Upside Guys segment, thank you for taking that intentional time, too. If you joined us at Miracle on the Mountain or Visions, you quite simply made history with us.

We took intentional time with our caregivers, too—shining a light, and celebrating as many of the 8,400 caregivers and staff that work around the clock in our hospitals. Throughout the year, we sent the message that we care for those who care for us. Through caregiver recognition, we celebrated special occasions including National Nursing and Porter weeks, handed out baskets of treats at Thanksgiving, offered free hot beverages during holidays that caregivers selflessly do not get. We also renewed our commitment to the caregiver-led Self Care Café: a heart project that is nurturing a community of pride, safety, wellbeing, and camaraderie within our care teams.

Every day, I am witness to stories of hope and good. A nurse who wants to add the Foundation to her will, in honour of the care her own parents received. A patient who wants to recognize a whole team—from porter to surgeon—through our Caring Spirit program. A new donor who wants to make a $1 million gift in honour of his late wife. A donor who wants to gift a small amount every month—and our message back that every donation counts.

And also… A physician who wants to become our champion, giving even more of themselves for the health of the community. A nurse who volunteers her time to knit hats for patients. A porter that plays the piano after-hours, to bring about joy and hope to those who call the hospital their second home.

All to say, there is good, and good to do in healthcare. We have excellent hospitals and excellent care teams—and we have colleagues in care that are ambitious and determined to make it even better. Every day, I hear of a new piece of technology, or special training, or a brand new unit, that would revolutionize the care provided here. As we look to the future, know that we will continue to play our part to advance the needs within our local hospitalsWe are listening, and we are preparing to catalyze major projects in the future—that is my commitment to you.

Together with the incredible Foundation staff and dedicated volunteer Board of Directors, thank you for an impactful year—and thank you for the year to come.

Avery Brohman
CEO, Victoria Hospitals Foundation