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Chemo unit expands

The Portage District Hospital Foundation is celebrating the completion of an $85,000 project in the chemotherapy unit at the hospital. Pictured are foundation executive director Erin Miller-Simpson, left, artist and cancer survivor Bernice Einarson (who donated the painting seen here), hospital client services manager Pam Schimmel-Werbiski and foundation board member Irvine Ferris. Missing from photo is cancer care physician Dr. David Kinnear

The Portage District General Hospital and its foundation are celebrating the updated and expanded chemotherapy department.

Thanks in large part to the foundation’s annual gala last fall, the foundation was able to raise $85,000 to increase the physical size of the unit’s space by 50 per cent, and increase the number of spots available for cancer patients to receive treatment from five to six.

“The Portage hospital foundation thought it was a perfect fit to fund something like this in our community,” said Erin Miller-Simpson, who heads up the PDGH Foundation.

“Within no time after our gala dinner, numerous personal donations, lots of media coverage, Portage Mennonite Church had disbanded and gave us $12,000. We had a fundraising day at MCC Thrift shop and got $5,000 from that. We raised $48,000 at our gala dinner and that came from a collaborative effort from those in attendance who were very generous,” Miller-Simpson said.

“The renovations began in January and (it) opened recently.”

Foundation board member Irvine Ferris met someone he knows in the unit on May 16.

“He was telling me the time he doesn’t have to spend running into Winnipeg. It’s six or seven blocks from where he lives, and it’s a real godsend for him and for a lot of other people too,” Ferris said. “Our donors are very generous and to see their donations put to work this way is very gratifying.”

The hospital is also pleased with the improvements to the space, which allow the nurses to perform small procedures in the chemo room and not have to leave to take patients down the hall to another space.

“It’s more functional and a little bit more welcoming space for the patients who are here for treatments and their families,” said Pam Schimmel-Werbiski, client services manager at the hospital. “The idea that we’re able to provide this service close to home is absolutely fantastic and we’re just so pleased to be able to offer it here and the generosity of the community has just been overwhelming.”

The facility currently handles 30-40 patients per week and this may increase. There are currently one full-time and one part-time RN working in that department.

The foundation has also approved the purchase of $193,000 worth of equipment going into all the different areas of the hospital, including laparoscopic surgery.

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