South Cariboo Health Foundation director Anne Sabo, left, president Chris Nickless and fundraising co-ordinator Brenda Devine happily unveiled AIRVO 2 Humidifier equipment purchased through a $3,000 donation from TB Vets executive director Kandys Merola and director Peter Merola on Oct. 10. Carole Rooney photo.

Vancouver veterans’ aid helps 100 Mile hospital

TB Vets donates respitory equipment following South Cariboo wildfires

A non-profit group from the Lower Mainland has donated an important piece of respiratory health equipment to the 100 Mile District General Hospital.

When members of TB Vets Charitable Foundation became concerned about the impacts of smoke from this season’s wildfires on patients already suffering from respiratory conditions in the South Cariboo, they offered to donate $3,000 toward equipment to help them breathe a little easier.

Kandys and Peter Merola, executive director and board director respectively, were on site at the local hospital when the new AIRVO 2 Humidifier with integrated flow generator was unveiled on Oct. 10.

The Merolas became aware of the situation in 100 Mile House partly because they have family in the area, as well as a cabin they visit regularly, Kandys explains.

“We want to reach out to the small communities, so this was a way to do it.”

Peter explains that TB Vets is shifting some focus on rural health centres, rather than sticking to major institutions, like Vancouver General Hospital, where they typically donate “substantial” funding.

“One of the things our foundation does do is we strive to reach out to smaller hospitals across the province to support them in this manner.”

Aside from the fact that there are veterans in the South Cariboo, TB Vets gives back to rural communities regardless of their populations with a history in the armed forces or with tuberculosis caused from exposure in combat situations.

South Cariboo Health Foundation (SCHF) fundraising co-ordinator Brenda Devine says she was contacted by the TB Vets to administer this “fabulous” financial donation for a respiratory equipment purchase.

Devine immediately contacted the hospital Acute Care nurse manager Natalie Kulyk to ask what type might be the most beneficial to patient care, she explains, who told her this AIRVO 2 is a piece of equipment they could really use right now.

More and more organizations like TB vets are now recognizing there is “a lot of need” in rural hospitals, and taking steps to spread their health contributions around to the smaller communities, Devine adds.

She says when health problems increase due to situations that arise suddenly in a community, such as respiratory ailments following intense smoke in the air, smaller rural health centres often can’t find enough money to fill all the hospital’s related equipment needs.

“It’s just huge. The budgetary situation cannot pick up all these incidental items, so TB Vets is a really good contact for us, and it will carry on to be that way, too.”

It will be a big help to have this equipment, as there are always a lot of people with respiratory conditions in the area, aside from those experiencing difficulties associated with the smoky air, she explains.

Kandys says her connection with TB vets began through her father, a veteran with respiratory ailments who was on the TB Vets board of directors for many years when she was growing up. After serving on the board herself, including as its chair, she became its executive director.

The family ties continue with Peter, her husband. Not only a TB vets director, he is also president of the Royal Canadian Legion TVS Branch #44, which was formed 91 years ago – and founded the TB Vets organization in 1946.

Rather than still limiting it to veterans, with the changing demographics since Branch #44 was founded in 1926, it now serves low-income seniors and underprivileged children in its community.

“It’s a dry branch [with no canteen], it’s strictly there for the support of veterans with tuberculosis and respiratory conditions, [as well as] it’s expanded into the communities now.”

To learn more about TB Vets, or how you can help support the foundation, call 1-604-874-5626 or visit the website at www.tbvets.org.

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