“When the chips are down, people in Muskoka pull us up to the pump and they have deep pockets,” out-going Executive Director of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation Colin Miller says.

A record-breaking $128,865 was raised during this year’s radiothon for the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge. 

Volunteers with the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation were working the phones from 6 AM to 6 PM on Friday (Photo credit: Mathew Reisler)

“People in this community truly value their local healthcare services,” Miller says.

The money is going towards purchasing $2.5 million worth of needed equipment and doing renovation work at the Bracebridge hospital. “A lot of the services and furniture in the hospital has to be swapped out for furnishing that is COVID compliant,” Miller explains.  That means swapping out fabric chairs for ones that can be disinfected easier, removing any carpeting in the hospital and even getting rid of anything with wood components. 

Leah Walker, the foundation’s Director of Annual Giving, says most of the changes being made wouldn’t be happening if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Miller explains that the equipment needed at the hospital is always changing. “All of the equipment we used is technologically based,” he adds. “New updates come every year, processors slow down, it’s not as accurate, it doesn’t work as quickly,” Miller says. 

Recently the local hospital bought a new CT Scanner. The price tag was around $2 million and Miller says it was worth every penny. “The difference between the new technology compared to what we had is night and day,” he says. “It comes down to life and death.”

The only way they get funding for the upgrades is through fundraisers. Miller says the provincial government funds their operational costs but doesn’t help with buying new equipment. 

“We have an extremely generous community,” Walker says. Between last year’s radiothon and this year’s, nearly $250,000 has been raised during the COVID-19 pandemic. “[The community] has really stepped up in an incredible way,” Walker goes on to say. “We saw that last year and we’re seeing it again this year”