This month, we sat down with SHN Foundation’s new President and CEO, Alicia Vandermeer, to learn more about her experience thus far at Scarborough Health Network and what she sees for the future of fundraising at our hospitals. Alicia joined the Foundation in January 2020 and has previously held various senior roles at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
1. How have your first few months with SHN Foundation been?
Having joined the Foundation only a short time before the outbreak of COVID-19, I would say that these first few months have been quite a fascinating journey. The challenges of the pandemic have been daunting, but it has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside our Foundation team and our Foundation Board of Directors to make the best of the situation and to support our community hospitals. This is an incredibly passionate and talented group of individuals who are committed to improving our hospitals and inspiring the support necessary to ensure Scarborough has access to world-class, inclusive care.
2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Foundation?
COVID-19 has been difficult for all of us in different ways, however none more so than our frontline staff - and SHN has been no exception. Over the past four months, as our physicians, nurses, clinicians and frontline staff have put in countless, exhausting hours of work to care for the community in the face of some of Ontario’s highest COVID-19 volumes, our Foundation has been hard at work raising funds to support their courageous efforts.
Through our COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the Help Our Heroes PPE Drive, the Sewing for Scarborough initiative, and several other campaigns, the Foundation has explored all possible avenues to address the urgent needs arising from the pandemic with the support of our community. Though we don’t stand on the frontlines ourselves, this important work is the very least we could do to make sure our hospitals have what they need to continue this fight.
3. What has impressed you most about the Scarborough community, particularly during these challenging times?
I’ve been blown away by Scarborough’s remarkable spirit of generosity, compassion and togetherness in the face of adversity. It’s a vibrant and diverse community that shares a collective sense of pride. At SHN, we have seen that pride in action through the over 3,500 generous donations we have received to support COVID-19 relief efforts (totalling more than $2.7 million in fact)! Each of these donors played a role in our ability to overcome this virus by supporting the purchase of vital medical equipment and even contributing to mental health and wellness supports for our staff.
I’m also impressed by the support our Foundation has from our devoted community volunteers. Whether as part of our event committees or our community councils who believe in SHN and are committed to working with us to engage Scarborough in our mission. I’m excited to be a part of this community and to continue sharing in all of the amazing things it has to offer as we look to the future of SHN’s Birchmount, Centenary and General hospitals.
4. What do you see on the horizon for SHN Foundation?
The future is bright for SHN, and the Foundation is ready to help make that future possible. Throughout the pandemic, our hospitals have proven that we are delivering health care at the highest levels. Now, we want to take bold steps forward to close the gap between this exceptional care and our outdated infrastructure and to help put Scarborough on the map as a leader in world-class, inclusive care. There are many transformational initiatives that the Foundation, in partnership with the hospital, will strive to move forward to give our patients access to the best possible health care – but it’s only with the help of our donors that we’ll be able to succeed.
5. What part will donors play in the future of health care in Scarborough?
Donors are vital partners in our vision, and we look forward to building a better SHN alongside them. Beyond their financial support, donors have a vested interest in the future of our hospitals and the health of the Scarborough community, and we want to engage them and their ideas in our journey to becoming Canada’s leading community teaching health network. By working together with our donors, there’s no limit to what we will be able to achieve for the future of Scarborough Health Network. And I, along with my team, are eager to hit the ground running!