A week in Langley Memorial Hospital after a stroke in 2013 convinced Allan Skidmore he wanted to help improve the facility.
“It was Christmas Day. All these people were working and I was worried about turkey and the kids, getting gifts,” he said.
At that time there was no ER refurbishment even on the horizon. Fraser Health did a facility assessment in 2014, and decided to focus on updating and expanding the emergency department.
“The staff and the nurses and the doctors were just amazing,” Skidmore said.
But the facility was cramped and would only get worse with the population growth, he said.
Skidmore has since required the services of the local hospital for an appendix operation about two years later and this year for blood poisoning.
The 71-year-old is happy to contribute to the ER campaign, and is no stranger to giving.
“It’s [the donation] through the Allan Skidmore Family Charitable Foundation,” he explained.
He and his wife, Clarice, have lived in Langley since 1999.
In the past he was behind businesses such as Novus Glass and other glass firms. He and his brother started Wireless Wave which sold to Bell about three years ago. Now he’s involved in a kitchen cabinet business and says he never plans to retire.
He’s been a supporter of Trinity Western University for more than 20 years and gave $3 million to BC Children’s Hospital after his grandchild had health issues.
Monday’s announcement was also a chance to tell about the other sizable donation to the foundation campaign.
The Martini family has lived in Langley for more than 40 years when the population was about 30,000.
Well known in business circles and the community, Ron and Maria Martini wanted to support the local hospital and are giving $5 million to the ER campaign.
“Through the years we have been to the Langley hospital for different reasons and seen the need for it to be improved,” Maria said.
Two huge donations kicked off the fundraising campaign for the new emergency ward at Langley Memorial Hospital. The Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation had committed to raising $11 million of the $30 ER expansion price tag but has now upped the amount to $15 million.
“We are blessed to be able to do it,” Ron said of the donation.
Maria is hoping the Martini family contribution inspires other to support the ER expansion.
“Everyone can participate by supporting the Emergency Response! campaign,” she said.
Martini said the ER project could be just the start.
“The dream for our family is this new emergency department for this hospital would be a stepping stone to a new hospital one day,” Martini noted.
The $15-million community drive, dubbed Emergency Response!, was launched Monday. In addition to detailed plans for the new ER, the announcement was also made that Langley hospital will be getting an MRI suite, a first in the community’s history.
The new MRI will be operational in 2019, while the emergency department is slated to open in fall 2020.
Currently Fraser Health has the second longest wait times for MRIs. Langley residents must travel to Abbotsford or Surrey.
“The average wait time for Langley residents requiring an MRI is 18 months,” noted Vivian Smith, executive director of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.
This is the largest fundraising campaign in Langley’s history, the hospital announced.
“We are grateful to the Martini and Skidmore families for their generosity,” said Phil Jackman, campaign chair for the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Emergency Response campaign.
Jackman is a local businessman who has spent most of his life here.
“I came on board after visiting the emergency ward myself,” he said.
Jackman said the staff were exceptional, but the facility is outdated and beyond repair.
“We have hallway stretchers that are almost always full and provide very little to no privacy,” Jackman said.
The hospital has one trauma bay.
“We are working in a space built to support half of the population we now treat,” he added.
Langley Memorial Hospital opened in 1948. And the hospital has not kept pace with Langley’s extraordinary growth.
“I’m proud of the people I work with – they are passionate about their work and they are exceptional at providing quality patient care. But this good care is provided in the most challenging conditions,” said Dr. Willem De Vynck, an emergency physician in Langley.
“The new emergency department will double our current footprint and ensure that as Langley continues to grow, people in this community will have access to emergency care, in a space built to meet their needs.”
The $7 million gifts make a big dent in the foundation commitment. The foundation efforts are ramped up because construction begins later this year.
“My goal would be to have it complete in a year,” Smith said of the campaign.
She said there will be more donor announcements in the coming months and opportunities for people to contribute.
“Smaller gifts are important. Everybody’s gifts are important,” Smith said.
For more information on Emergency Response, people can visit langleyER.com.