Nova Scotia

QEII Foundation's $100M campaign takes aim at wait times, recruitment

The idea is to boost the level of care offered by the QEII Health Sciences Centre as it undergoes a $2-billion physical redevelopment.

We Are campaign launched to improve care while hospital undergoes major transformation

The Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre is seen in this 2019 photo. The QEII is undergoing a significant transformation, and the foundation says that makes this the ideal time to push for technology upgrades to go in the new facilities. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The foundation that supports Halifax's QEII Health Sciences Centre has launched an ambitious campaign that it says could improve wait times and recruitment efforts over the next five years.

The goal of the We Are campaign is to raise $100 million, an amount the QEII Foundation says is the largest health-care campaign focused on Atlantic Canada. The idea is to boost the level of care offered by the hospital as the QEII undergoes a $2-billion physical redevelopment.

The money will go toward a long list of new technology, research projects, and smaller size patient supports. Susan Mullin, president and CEO of the QEII Foundation, says it will fund everything from gas cards for patients who live out of the city, to genetic sequencing technology.

Mullin says they hope the upgrades will attract surgeons and specialists.

"If we want to recruit them, we have to show them that we have that latest technology because they want to provide the best possible care, so that's part of what we can do," she said. "We know we need to be flexible enough to look at opportunities as they come up."

The new interventional radiology suites at the QEII let teams of medical professionals work together to perform minimally invasive procedures. They were funded as part of the We Are Campaign. (Submitted by the QEII Foundation)

As for wait times — a constant issue that has been exacerbated by COVID-19 — Mullin says the new technology will also help.

She wants to see new diagnostic imaging machines that take clearer pictures in less time, creating more capacity.

Sherry Porter is the co-chair of the cancer care portion of the project, as well as the chair of campaign engagement. Porter is a two-time cancer survivor, and decided to start helping the foundation after finishing her treatment nearly two decades ago.

"It's a bit daunting," Porter said of the $100-million goal. "I think everybody should be excited about it because it does add the next level of care."

Porter says one of their goals is to reduce the number of radiation treatments required by cancer patients through more efficient technology. She says currently, patients could need 30 treatments and have to be away from their families and homes for weeks at a time.

"Some of this new technology is going to allow those treatments to reduce to five, or maybe three or maybe one," she explained. "That makes a huge difference to people."

Porter points out the technology will also help with wait times.

Spreading the word

Mullin says while some people think the government, not foundations, should be footing the bill for these kinds of improvements, this is about making things better, faster.

"We can't support replacing hospital technology — from a government standpoint — every year the way we might look at [replacing] our cellphones," she said. "So we're able to step in and move it from good to great, and just be able to move things ahead a little bit faster."

While the pandemic is preventing the foundation from holding large-scale events to raise money for the campaign, Porter and Mullin are focused on getting the word out and letting small contributions chip away at the larger goal.

"It's a game changer for health care in Nova Scotia and even in Atlantic Canada," said Mullin.

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