An Elk Valley not-for-profit organization that has spent decades supporting local health services has folded due to the demands placed on registered charities.
The East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH) is now overseeing all donations to the Elk Valley Hospital Foundation (EVHF), which has been operating in the region for 20 years.
Former EVHF treasurer Aysha Haines said the volunteer-run organization had struggled to maintain its status as a registered charity and the decision to cease operations would allow volunteers to focus solely on fundraising.
“While we have a robust and dedicated group of volunteers, it is a challenge for an organization as small as the EVHF to meet the Canada Revenue Agency requirements to maintain registered charity status,” she said.
“We are right in the middle zone where the effort is too much for a volunteer board on its own, but the organization isn’t large enough to justify a paid executive director position.
“With the EKFH already managing funds for the facilities in the Valley and the fact that we have such a good working relationship with them already, it makes it very easy to step back from our charitable status and its responsibilities and instead focus on raising funds for the Elk Valley facilities.”
Since its inception, the EVHF has bought about $500,000 worth of equipment for the Elk Valley Hospital and Sparwood and Elkford primary health care centres.
One of its biggest projects in the past five years was the funding of new ultrasound machines at each facility at a cost of nearly $100,000.
“We also purchased new transport ventilators for the emergency room to ensure a ventilator was always available,” said Haines.
The hospital foundations have worked together for many years and health services in the Elk Valley will continue to receive support from EKFH.
“From a donor perspective, the only difference will be the name on the charitable receipt will change from Elk Valley Hospital Foundation to East Kootenay Foundation for Health,” said Haines.
“Donations can still be dropped off at the Elk Valley Hospital or they can be sent directly to the EKFH.
“Donors should just make a note specifying which facility the donation is for – Fernie, Sparwood or Elkford – and the EKFH will continue to work with facility administrators to ensure the funds are used in the best way possible for that community.”
The EKFH has pledged to uphold the EVHF’s legacy.
“I know that they’ve done really great work in the past and we hope to continue on their legacy by providing the communities within the Elk Valley the same service that they’ve offered, and providing donors a place to offer funds,” said EKFH Executive Director Brenna Baker.
The EKFH has been working with Elk Valley health administrators on funding priorities, which include lab equipment for the Elk Valley Hospital and a $60,000 transport ventilator for heart patients.
As a larger organization, it has a number of paid positions and raises funds for health services across the East Kootenay through donations, grants and corporate partnerships.
“We have over 30 funds in our portfolio,” said Baker.
“I just want to assure people that the money is staying within their communities if that’s where they want to direct it.”
Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Chairman and Elkford Mayor, Dean McKerracher, thanked EVHF volunteers for their efforts over the years.
“We do certainly appreciate all of the auxiliary foundations and the efforts they put towards raising money for the betterment of all our facilities,” he said.