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Golf and a simulation lab: Annual tournament raises funds for two St. Albert organizations

Teams and individual spots for the tournament are sold out, but certain sponsorships are still available

It's not often that a game of golf means a hospital can receive funds for a high-tech mannequin, but a tournament at the end of August aims to do just that.  

On Aug. 25, the nearly sold-out, 21st annual Foundations for Health Golf Tournament taking place at the Glendale Golf and Country Club is raising funds for The Sturgeon Community Hospital Foundation and the St. Albert Community Foundation. The money raised is split between the two organizations. 

The event was formerly called the Heritage Golf Classic, but organizers changed the name to give the it more meaning, said Rebecca McCauley the hospital foundation's marketing and communications manager. 

“Really, what these foundations are doing is looking after the health of the community,” she said. 

Money raised by the hospital foundation typically goes back into the Sturgeon Community Hospital, said foundation chair Scott Olivieri. 

“Our goal is to fill the gap between the timing or the delay (of) stuff ... If (the hospital) had to deal directly with Alberta Health Services (AHS), the list and the demand on AHS to fund equipment or renovations, or whatever, is so high that when they need certain things, they may never get it,” he said. 

The funds from this year’s golf tournament are going towards a simulation lab (Sim lab) for the Sturgeon. 

“Now it's just simply to either try to fully fund it or partially fund it, if we were to have a large donor that says they'd like to be part of that,” Olivieri said. 

Dr. Jocelyn Slemko, an ICU physician at the Sturgeon, said a Sim lab is a space that is typically designated in the hospital to be a safe place for people to practice their skills. 

“A major piece of that is the patient, which in a Sim lab is a mannequin,” said Slemko. 

Slemko said the funds raised through this event will go towards the mannequin. 

“It's not just a doll. These mannequins are highly technical — they can have heart rates, they can have breathing sounds, and often we can talk through them through a microphone, and then they come with a monitor that conveys their overall clinical status,” she said. 

One of the benefits of being able to work with this sort of model includes the ability to make a mistake without worry. 

“When I'm running simulations, I use the mantra, ‘What happens in simulation stays in simulation,’ so people can come and feel free to act however they think is best, and then learn from it without worrying about any ramifications in their regular day-to-day life,” she said. 

Virtually any scenario can be run on these mannequins, said Slemko, but the typical scenarios are crisis focused. 

“Surgeons and ob-gyns and all that, they also can use simulators to practice skills that they may not be able to do regularly in their clinical practice, because they just don't happen frequently. (It’s) an opportunity to practice those low-frequency events, but also those really high-stakes stressful events as well,” she said. 

Currently, hospital staff have to book time in the Sim lab located at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. 

Slemko said it is important for the Sturgeon to have this equipment because as the hospital grows, they need to have a place to practice different skills. 

Hospital beds were scarce across the province during the pandemic and the Sturgeon had to bear a lot of that burden, said Slemko. 

“Our ICU was functioning at 200-to 300-per-cent capacity. Having a space where we can have staff practice skills that they may not have seen otherwise, because the acuity or the sickness of the patients hasn't typically been that high is very, very important,” she said. 

Doug Campbell, chair for the St. Albert Community Foundation, said the community foundation uses its funds to support local community projects that are run by registered charities. The community foundation takes applications from community groups, and allocates funds to support their programs. 

“One of the grants that we did this spring was to provide $25,000 to support a sexual-assault counselling-initiative here in St. Albert,” he said. 

Campbell said as a partner in the event, the community foundation finds sponsors and golfers, in addition to having a charity hole in the tournament.  

“It’s not a big hole. It's a $25,000 hole,” Campbell said. 

The lucky golfer who sinks the hole will get 50 per cent. 

Unfortunately for those who have not yet bought tickets, the event is sold out for teams and individual players, with 144 golfers taking part, but there are still opportunities for sponsorship, some of which also include teams, Olivieri said. 

Campbell said the tournament and both foundations encourage the legacy of philanthropy. 

“The tournament is all about sponsorships, and getting people aware of what both foundations are involved in within their local communities."