TORONTO — Hospitals facing urgent COVID-19 needs are banding together to close funding "gaps" for their institutions and embattled health-care workers.
Dubbed "The Frontline Fund," the national campaign seeks donations on behalf of more than 100 institutions across the country for supplies, staff support and research.
Organizers say the money would help hospitals source personal protective equipment and ventilators, fund drug trials and vaccine research, and provide mental-health support to exhausted staff. Ten per cent of funds will also go towards the northern territories and Indigenous health.
Steering committee member Caroline Riseboro, also CEO of Trillium Health Partners Foundation, says COVID-19 has raised unique needs that "wouldn't necessarily be addressed through government funding."
Examples of how the money could be spent include extra scrubs so caregivers can change their clothes before going home, or hotel rooms for frontline staff with immune-compromised relatives so they don't have to fear bringing the virus home with them.
Organizers say $8.5 million has already been promised by lead corporate partners. That includes $5 million from the Canadian Medical Association Foundation, $2.5 million from Maple Leaf Foods and $1 million from TD Bank Group.
Riseboro says the goal is to raise $50 million. Canadians can donate at www.frontlinefund.ca.
"All of our hospitals in Canada are just facing an unprecedented crisis here," says Riseboro.
"We know that there's the desire out there by Canadians to help, but Canadians are unsure of who to support so we created this national initiative. It is historic in nature. Never have all of these hospitals across the country come together to fundraise in concert for what is probably one of the most significant health crises facing us in a generation."
Money will stay within the province in which they're donated and be allocated according to the number of beds at each institution. Each hospital foundation will decide how to spend the funds on their unique needs, says Riseboro.
"This initiative is really meant to close some gaps on the response to COVID, particularly when it comes to our frontline health-care workers," Riseboro says.
The CMA Foundation says its $5-million contribution to the Frontline Fund is part of a broader $20-million commitment to the medical system.
It's also setting up a $5-million fund to benefit community hospitals and giving another $5 million to a COVID-19 grant program by the Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine.
Another $5 million will help medical students and residents with financial hardships, and $250,000 will go to Doctors without Borders' COVID-19 crisis fund.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2020.
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press