Nearly four years after being launched, a campaign to raise $6.9 million for new diagnostic imaging equipment for the Chatham Kent Health Alliance has met and exceeded its goal.
A celebration was held Monday to mark the official completion of the Diagnostic Imaging Equipment Renewal Campaign by the Foundation of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, which finished at $7,062,761.
About two months ago, the campaign was still about $1 million short and the gap had been closed to $250,000 with a week to go.
Just over $100,000 of that came in thanks to The Final Push, a 1,000-kilometre bicycle ride around southwestern Ontario by Dave Depencier, a co-chair of the diagnostic imaging campaign, and his good friend Dan Van Moorsel.
The two left the Sydenham CKHA campus in Wallaceburg last Wednesday and arrived back in Chatham on Monday.
Depencier had his own health scare during his time as a campaign co-chair when he developed a pulmonary embolism, resulting from a clot in his artery going into his lungs.
Hearing stories of the current CT scanner breaking down at the CKHA, Depencier said he was thinking to himself, “'You know what, I gotta do something, I gotta to make difference,' so that's what we tried to do.”
He said it was a special moment coming into Chatham, being greeted by riders then coming into a packed event to celebrate the campaign completion.
“I realized . . . how great of a community we have and I think to see that, just proves it that people are here to support one another.”
In fact, fellow campaign co-chairs Greg Hetherington and Andy Fantuz, who played in the CFL, also both have an appreciation for diagnostic imaging equipment.
Hetherington credits the CT scan for helping local medical professionals diagnose blood clots in his lungs and quickly provide the care he needed.
“I was one of the very lucky ones who had all this great service at my hospital,” he said. “The team that were working around me were phenomenal.”
Fantuz also recalled how diagnostic tools helped him receive the care he needed when he developed Compartment Syndrome in 2005, following an injury on the basketball court that could have cost him his leg.
He was able to get access to this equipment in London, but noted, “now that we can do it right here our hometown it's incredible.”
Fantuz added he was honoured to be a part of the campaign.
The fundraising effort was undertaken to purchase 17 pieces of equipment to be used at the Chatham and Wallaceburg hospital sites. So far, 15 pieces of new equipment, including a digital mammography machine, 13 ultra sounds and a bone density machine, have already been installed and are functional.
Reaching the fundraising target will enable a new CT scan and SPECT CT scan machine to be installed in the fall.
Lori Marshall, CKHA president and CEO, said the last two pieces of equipment coming, include a SPECT CT Scan, which is a combination CT scan and nuclear camera, to be installed by the end of June.
She noted the existing CT scan will be replaced with a new one by the end of the fall.
Marshall said the significance for the community is “basically we do about 100,000 scans a year of different types, everything from an X-ray through to a MRI.”
She added that has grown 10 per cent over the last two years.
Not only is it important to replace out-dated-equipment with new, efficient equipment, Marshall said this type of investment “allows us to recruit new clinicians to our community.”
She added the medical professionals at CKHA “need to know they have the best equipment available to them, and that enriches our lives as residents of Chatham-Kent.”