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Trena de Bruijn

Port Perry Hospital Foundation


Jonathan van Bilsen

October 20, 2022

I have always enjoyed hearing people’s stories and learning about their lives. It seems everyone has something, which is unique to them. Be it business, travel or helping others, it is a privilege for me to meet with, interview, and document people from our community.

I recently had the pleasure of hosting my show, which featured Trena deBruijn, the past Chair of the Port Perry Hospital Foundation. This giving individual, along with an entire board of directors, offers her time and expertise, free of charge, to help others achieve a better experience when visiting our hospital.

The first question that came to mind during our interview was, what exactly is the Foundation? Trena went on to explain the Hospital Foundation is the fundraising arm for Lakeridge Health, Port Perry.

Funds to purchase medical equipment, renovations to the facility, the improvement of patient care, as well as needs of physicians. The foundation is governed by a board of directors, and operates with a staff of two.

I was surprised to learn the government does not cover many of the purchases made by healthcare institutions, and items like capital equipment is usually the responsibility of the local entity.

Although the foundation does not report to Lakeridge Health, they do work closely with them. The hospital will discuss requirements, purchasing protocols and scopes of service with the Foundation, prior to a commitment being made. Once a challenge has been agreed on, the Foundation sets out to ‘make it happen’.

I was curious to learn the difference between the Hospital Foundation and the Hospital Auxiliary, in that I assumed they both raise money for a common cause. As Trena explained, the Auxiliary has many arms to raise funds, such as the clothing outlet, and the various events they have.

Trena went on to explain the Port Perry Hospital Foundation was established in the late seventies, for the same purpose as today: to support the medical needs of our community. Prior to the initiation of the Foundation, individuals or groups of people, without any real structure, organized fundraising efforts.

The board of directors is made up of a chair, a vice chair, a past chair and a treasurer, along with seven directors. In addition to the board, there are two staff members, who oversee the day to day operation of the Foundation. All board members are from the community, and each bring a specific skillset to the equation, to ensure all aspects of the community are represented.

One of the first projects the Foundation was heavily involved with, was the Matthew B Diamond wing, which is now part of the new life centre. The next major project was the Stephen B. Roman wing, which included the emergency department. The timing for this inclusion was incredible. As some of you will recall, there was a terrible shooting in Port Perry. In the nineties, just after the wing was opened, and many of the victims were able to be treated in the new addition.

This community is amazing at finding funds to donate to great causes. The Foundation raised $2.9 million toward financing of the Roman wing, and those who did not give money donated endless hours of time in crafting furniture and creating unique artwork to furnish the new wing.

More than just construction, the Foundation was also instrumental in the new endoscopy suite installed in recent years. The campaign to raise funding for that project was known as ‘Lighting The Way’. I asked Trena what the name represented, and she explained there is a small light on the end of the endoscopy equipment. I will leave the rest to your imagination.

Trena is the perfect person to have been at the helm of the organization. In her previous role, as director of finance for the Township of Scugog, which she held for 10 years, she knew about budgets, administration and organization. 

“I was delighted when I was asked to join the Foundation board, in 2015, as i thought it would be a great way to give back to the community,” Trena explained. Not to mention an excellent use of her career talents.

Of course, many of you are aware of the most recent campaign the Port Perry Hospital Foundation took the lead on, the new CT scanner. Trena explained initially it was thought the campaign would last several years, but the community once again came together, and in a mere seven months, raised over $4 million dollars.

Interestingly, and I admit I was not very aware of the process, capital equipment is the responsibility of a community to obtain. Operational costs are handled by the Ministry of Health, once the equipment is up and running.

Speaking with Trena DeBruijn was an extremely interesting experience. I learned a great deal about the Hospital Foundation, and what it accomplishes. It certainly makes me proud to be a member of this community.

For those of you who have had to experience a CT scan at Lakeridge Health, Oshawa, you will know the scan itself takes mere minutes, but the driving, parking, walking through endless corridors, turns the event into many hours. I know I speak for all of us when I say, we are excited about this new piece of equipment being operational in the spring of next year.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.

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