Inspiring the Philanthropic Spirit

Burnaby Hospital | BCBusiness

Burnaby Hospital Foundation counts relationships as the key to fundraising success

Sixty years ago, Burnaby residents came together to raise money for a hospital that would prevent loved ones from having to seek emergency care in Vancouver or New Westminster, which, back then, was a several hours’ drive away.

Today, the 309-bed Burnaby Hospital sees over 200,000 patients yearly and has the third busiest emergency department in the province. Its philanthropic arm, Burnaby Hospital Foundation, is working harder than ever to raise funds for medical equipment, technology and capital projects so the hospital can continue its tradition of providing great patient care.

This task is being carried out by foundation president and CEO Cheryl Carline and two other primary fundraisers, Sylvia Zylla and Jennifer Wong. In today’s world, the challenges are many. “Incredible advances in diagnostic, surgical and medical equipment have resulted in better patient outcomes, but they don’t come cheaply,” says Carline. “That, combined with our aging population, plus the fact that Burnaby’s population will grow by 33.4 per cent by 2034, means the public’s generosity is crucial in augmenting existing health-care budgets and meeting the looming health-care demand crunch.”

Fortunately, Burnaby Hospital Foundation’s efforts have resulted in over 5,500 donors (many of them former hospital patients) lending support annually, to the tune of about $1 million per year, for the past three years. In 2012, events such as The Slice, the foundation’s 26th annual golf tournament, and Rhythm of Life, the foundation’s 14th annual fun run, raised enough money to support critical equipment needs and other badly needed services. This year’s Rhythm of Life run is scheduled for September 8 at Burnaby Lake Park and will feature 10-, five- and one- kilometre family strolls, as well as a barbecue lunch with live entertainment.

Even celebrities like former Burnaby resident Michael Bublé have contributed to the foundation. “Every year the hospital gives us a ‘wish list’ of equipment, and every year we manage to cross off a few more items,” says Carline. As important as funding may be, Carline points out that relationships are really the key to the foundation’s success. “Our bigger objective is to share the remarkable story of Burnaby Hospital and its record of great patient care,” she says. “It’s a story that inspires the philanthropic spirit.” 

Although she doesn’t downplay the work ahead, Carline draws on Burnaby Hospital’s origins to fuel her optimism about the future. “In 1943 a group of locals formed the Burnaby Hospital Fundraising Committee and spent nine long years raising enough awareness—and money—to get this facility built,” she says. “The hospital has always been here for the community, and as we move deeper into 2013, it’s heartening to know that the community—young and old people, from all walks of life—are more supportive of us than ever. Instead of worrying about challenges, they are telling us, ‘let’s make it happen.’”