The skyline of the University of Alberta has been littered with gigantic cranes for most of the last year, yet those sentinels of the horizon are only a sign of the massive projects to come in 2004.
Buildings are going in on top of other buildings. Appendages are being attached. And the prairie city campus is learning what it means to maximize space utilization.
Richard Fedorak, director of the division of gastroenterology, has reportedly been trying to bring consolidation to his growing department for years. Currently, it is spread across five different locations within the U of A Hospital and campus.
“Space is very limited at the hospital and university, (so) they just took space wherever they could get it,” says Cynthea McIntyre, fund-raising co-ordinator for the University Hospital Foundation.
|Image courtesy of University Hospital Foundation|
|Land for the new Zeidler Gastrointestinal Health and Research Institute was donated by the U of A.|
The lack of geographic cohesiveness has proven to be a disadvantage for the staff in the department and awkward for patients.
In the mid-1990s, Fedorak approached the University Hospital Foundation for funding to secure a space where he could bring it all together. The funding came in the form of a $1-million donation from Edmonton’s Zeidler family, but space could not be found.
The Zeidler family was approached again a couple of years ago and agreed to contribute another $1 million to enable the department to have its own building constructed. The challenge then became securing an appropriate piece of land.
The pieces have finally come together, and the hole for the 30,000-sq.-ft. centre was dug during the first week of this year. The land, attached to the U of A Hospital just north of the main entrance, was donated by the U of A.
A further sizable donation from construction giant Ledcor (and the Lede family) is covering the expenses for the third (top) floor of the centre. Completion is targeted for early 2005.
The push for private donations in health care is huge right now, with the Alberta Heart Institute leading the charge for charity dollars.
“Heart and cancer are easier to get money for. You see it all the time. You know people who are dying from it,” says McIntyre.
“Gastrointestinal is hard. It’s something people don’t talk about but it’s something we’re almost all affected by. Gastrointestinal is the highest cause of absenteeism from work.”
Fund-raising for the gastrointestinal centre was simplified through the three large donations from families who recognize the need, in contrast to the uphill battle of appealing to the public at large.
Not surprisingly, the fund-raising for the $142-million Alberta Heart Institute is in high gear and the response is phenomenal. The minimum goal for the fund-raising campaign was $17 million, as designated by the provincial government.
“We have since raised it to $25 million because we think we can do it and we can make it even bigger and better,” says McIntyre.
“It will be a centre of excellence that will be known throughout the world.”
A global panel of experts in heart disease recently reviewed the plans for the institute and “they said we are so lucky to be having this – that there will be no other institute like it.”
Construction of the six-story institute officially kicked off on October 6, 2003. It will be built above the current site of the U of A Hospital and Stollery Children’s Hospital emergency department.
The hope is that all funds will be raised by September of 2005. More than $12 million has been pledged about 10 months into the campaign.
Two million of those dollars are coming from the Guru Nanak Shrine Fellowship. The fellowship is funding the healing garden in the Alberta Heart Institute and is the only community organization to take on the fund-raising.
The remaining pledges have come from individual philanthropists and companies. The last part of the campaign will be directed toward smaller donations from the general public.
The Guru Nanak Healing Garden, named after the founder of Sikhism, will be a space that will help patients and their families feel better in any manner possible, says Jagdeep Shipra, head of the youth executive of the Shrine Fellowship.
Plans for the garden are not finalized, but there is talk of an emphasis on natural light, botanical gardens and possibly even running water.
“We’re trying to involve everyone and anyone possible,” says Shipra, explaining the quest to bring the community together under this common goal. The majority of the about $200,000 raised by the organization to date has come through various fund-raisers (such as concerts and a Canada-wide radiothon) and donations from the Sikh community.
Shipra says youth are “quite enthusiastic” about the project as they realize the institute will help many people, and involvement in the project will look good on resumes, particular if the individual involved is seeking to enter the medical field.
The fellowship (non-profit, based in Canada) was established about five years ago with the mandate to restore shrines in India and Pakistan and to help the needy. “They’ve been doing a lot of projects overseas and they thought that they have to also do something within Canada and help out the community here as much as possible,” says Shipra.
Partnerships and medical space innovations continue through the Edmonton region’s smaller health-care projects.
The first Capital Health public-health centre to be located within an Alberta school has been in operation for a little more than a year. To date, the Capital Health Twin Brooks Public Health Centre located in Edmonton’s George P. Nicholson School is a successful resource-sharing project.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to partner . . . if it makes sense for our core business, which is patient care and patient access,” says Ed Greenberg, Capital Health director of public affairs, adding the location is being well-received and well-used.
Jenise Bidulock, Edmonton Public Schools director of planning and transportation, says the partnership is contributing to family success and making good use of taxpayer dollars through economies of scale and the construction of one building rather than two.