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EKFH Warm Embrace campaign will fund regional neonatal intensive care centre

$3.4 million centre would provide premature infants with more localized care
The East Kootenay Foundation for Health is fundraising for a new neonatal intensive care unit at East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook (Google maps photo)

The East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH) kicks off a new campaign this week to raise money for a neonatal intensive care unit at East Kootenay Regional Hospital.

A Warm Embrace Campaign will raise $1.8 million in support of the care unit, primarily through community events. Campaign fundraising begins on July 21 with a charity golf tournament and continues on July 22 with a car show in Cranbrook.

The golf tournament is held annually in order to raise money for various community projects. This year’s event, organized by Boston Pizza and Jack Carter Northstar General Motors, is already sold out. Entry proceeds will go towards the care unit.

There will be more than 40 classic cars at Saturday’s show, which runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Pop Price Park. Entry is free, but attendees can make a donation to bid on their favourite car.

The neonatal intensive care unit is a $3.4 million project. EKFH, Kootenay East Regional Hospital District, and the provincial government are working together to fund the cause, with EKFH supplying the largest amount of money at $1.8 million. The campaign is already off to a good start, having received a sizeable $10,000 donation from Cranbrook Rotary.

East Kootenay Regional Hospital currently lacks a neonatal intensive care unit, which means infants born prematurely must be transported to the Okanagan or the lower mainland for medical care. Without proper facilities, families often have to spend weeks away from home.

“I know people who’ve had to go and they’ve been gone for over five weeks,” said EKFH executive director Brenna Baker.

“This will allow babies who are born premature to stay closer to home, which will save families a lot of stress and a lot of financial burden. It’s a huge improvement to our pediatric ward,” she added.

While the project will not completely eliminate the need for infants to be transported to other care centres, it will mean less are sent away.

“We’ll be able to keep premature babies here as long as they’re not too sick. If they have any heart or lung condition, they will have to be transferred out,” she explained.

The car show offers fun for the whole family. Children will be able to play on the bouncy castles and make chalk art, and adults can help themselves to a cold refreshing pint at the beer gardens. There will be food trucks for everyone.

The Hurricanes, The Testers and Barry Graham will provide musical accompaniment.

Visitors will have the opportunity to bid on their favourite car in the People’s Choice Awards. Bidding ballots are $5 and all proceeds will go towards supporting the neonatal centre. Participants will be entered into a draw to win seasons tickets for the Bucks.

Additional donations will be accepted via cheque or card at event booths, or through EKFH’s website.

READ MORE: EKFH concludes Foundry East Kootenay Build fundraising campaign


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