The people at Hearts for Healthcare are still counting up the proceeds from Saturday’s fundraising gala, but based on the early numbers they know they had a good night.

Everyone had a good night. The Reid Fieldhouse at Cold Lake Energy Centre looked terrific, everyone was dressed in their best, and the food and entertainment were outstanding.

And everyone was in a giving mood, helped along by master auctioneer Aaron Tilley.

There was obviously a pent-up demand for an evening of this calibre after two years of Covid cancellations.

“We were sold out within probably an hour of announcing that the tickets were on sale,” said Hearts for Healthcare vice-president Jennifer Corey.

“I’m pretty amazed with everything the gala committee did, they made it just an amazing, amazing night,” Corey said. “And it’s fun to be out. It’s fun to get out and just be with your friends and family and hear the live music and have a bit of entertainment. 

“But then it’s just so much better when it’s for a great cause and something that’s going to help the community and help your own health.”

Hearts for Healthcare’s primary mandate is to support recruitment and retention of medical staff for Cold Lake. They also direct some of the funds they raise to buy medical equipment for Cold Lake’s hospital.

Early in the evening, they had secured enough donations to set up an infusion clinic at Cold Lake Primary Care Network. Corey said this will serve patients better while taking some strain off of the emergency room.

“It takes a huge load off of the emergency room services. Patients who require I.V. treatments for anything from I.V. antibiotics to treatments for chronic health conditions can go to this infusion clinic instead of having to use E.R. services,” she said. 

“That will decrease the cost to the healthcare system in general, and it will decrease the burden to the healthcare system in manpower. And for patients not having to wait five or six hours to get their treatments when there’s an emergency going on. So that will be a great benefit for our patients and the community.”

Nurse of the Year and Healthcare Excellence Awards were presented for 2020 and 2021. The 2020 recipients were Suzy Hamel and Jason Hunt, respectively; and the 2021 honours went to Jenn Ross and Regina Molina.

Hearts for Healthcare also paid special tribute to Cathi Garon, who is retiring from her position as site manager of Cold Lake Healthcare Centre.

“Cathi’s been a great supporter of Hearts for Healthcare over the last eight years, and just a great advocate for the community healthcare services,” Corey said. “So while it’s a big loss for us to have her retire, we’re very blessed to have had her lay the groundwork so that things can continue to function in her absence.”

It has been a devastating couple of years for the healthcare sector. Corey says the gala shows the public is enthusiastic in its support.

“I know there’s been frustrations with E.R. closures and how health care has been accessible in the last while,” she said. “But that’s not a unique problem to Cold Lake. We see doctor shortages everywhere. I appreciate how the community still supports us in doing the work we’re doing to address these issues, and how they put the trust in us that we’re taking care of the community.”

Auctioneer Aaron Tilley encouraged everyone’s generous spirit.  JEFF GAYE
Cathi Garon and the attendees celebrated her career on the eve of her retirement. JEFF GAYE
We raise funds, we feast, and then we dance! More than 600 people attended the gala and partied to the sounds of Vancouver band Ten Souljers. JEFF GAYe