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'An incredibly generous gift': Northeastern Ont. hospital receives record donation

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A former Kirkland Lake Resident has helped the local hospital make two key purchases – the Blanche River Health (BRH) Foundation was gifted more than $960,000 from the late Olga Jackson in her will.

Two brand new patient transfer vehicles will take Blanche River Health patients to medical appointments out of town, thanks to the largest donation by an individual in the foundation’s history. (Supplied/Blanche River Health)Two brand new patient transfer vehicles will take BRH patients to medical appointments out of town, thanks to the largest donation by an individual in the foundation’s history.

The cost for both vehicles was $450,000 and hospital officials estimate the purchase will save $30,000 in annual maintenance that the older vehicles required.

“Olga Jackson left Blanche River Health an incredibly generous gift at a time when the hospital’s patient transfer vehicles needed costly maintenance, repairs and eventual replacement,” said John Sullivan, the president of the BRH Foundation, said in a social media post.

“Her gift covered 100 per cent of the cost of the new vehicles, leaving behind a legacy of caring in her home community that we are incredibly grateful for.”

Both vehicles feature levers to change seat layouts, a stretcher, wheelchair and oxygen storage, grab bars and power outlets.

The cost for both vehicles was $450,000 -- each feature levers to change seat layouts, a stretcher, wheelchair and oxygen storage, grab bars and power outlets. (Supplied/Blanche River Health)“Leaving a gift in your will to Blanche River Health Foundation is a legacy of lasting impact on health care in your community, and I hope Olga Jackson’s gift will inspire others to do the same,” said Sullivan.

BRH is a 74-bed hospital corporation with two sites serving the northeastern Ontario communities of Englehart and Kirkland Lake as well as residents in surrounding areas.

The non-urgent patient transfer service helps inpatients at BRH attend medical appointments spanning north to Timmins and south to North Bay and Sudbury. Last year, 540 trips were made.

"There's no other options for community hospitals, like ours, to be able to provide this for patients,” said Jorge VanSlyke, the president and CEO of BRH.

“To give you an example, we don't have an MRI scanning system here at the hospital so we do have to rely on partner hospitals like North Bay, or Sudbury for our patients to get those scans. That's where this particular service is vital."

Currently, the service is limited to inpatients at BRH – however, officials said advocacy efforts are underway to explore a similar service for members of the community in need.

Hospital officials said they are still determining how best to spend the remaining more than $500,000 of donation made.  

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