The Bulkley Valley Health Foundation has raised approximately $80,000 toward a new general chemistry analyzer for the Bulkley Valley District Hospital.
The funds came from a gala event and associated silent and live auctions held Oct. 1 at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge.
Laurel Menzel, the main organizer of the gala was thrilled with the event. She said there is still a bit of accounting to do to come up with a precise amount, but the funds raised still eclipse many previous gala results. For example, the 2018 event raised $55,000.
The excitement for a return to a formal, live event was palpable as glammed-up attendees posed on the red carpet while nibbling on canapés and sipping champagne.
The capacity crowd was then treated to a three-course gourmet meal. Chef Sascha Hillebrand even made a brief, special trip back to Smithers to personally oversee the important service.
After dinner, award-winning Canadian standup comedian and writer Erica Sigurdson kept the crowd roaring with laughter with her acerbic, observational wit and story-telling.
Following Sigurdson, deejay Lonnie Wiebe kept the dance floor hopping well into the night.
The $80,000 will go a long way to completing the purchase of the new chemistry analyzer, which carries a price tag of approximately $360,000.
At the gala, Cormac Hikisch, Northern Health’s local health services administrator explained that the existing machine is 12 years old and at least two years past its end of life.
The hospital has been keeping the machine limping along, but not without significant challenges and downtime.
To put in perspective just how important the analyzer is to the local lab, Hikisch noted that last year it performed 370,000 tests. Over the life of the analyzer that translates to millions of tests.
“I’m willing to bet that just about everyone in this room has had one bloody test or another run on this current machine,” he said. “Let’s look forward to the next 10 years. We’re all fundraising for good reasons.”
The new machine will have a number of distinct advantages, he explained. Among these are a reduction in testing time from 10 minutes to three; reduced maintenance downtime; on-the-fly calibrations without having to bring in a technician; and an alert system that warns technologists when parts need to be serviced or replaced.
Renovations to the building to accommodate the new, larger machine are already largely completed, Hikisch said.
Between the ordering process, waiting for delivery, installation and testing, bringing the new analyzer into service is still roughly a year off.