2016 - 2017 ANNUAL REPORT

the power of giving

annual report
heart and lung
brain health

2016 - 2017

It takes a partnership between donors, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and our hospitals and health care teams to provide the best in specialized care for all British Columbians.

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You are playing a vital role in the future of health care in BC.

$113 million in 2016-17.
Thanks to you,
our donors.

VITAL is the important work of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. It is the crucial link that makes good health care better, enabling us to build new facilities, invest in new equipment and technologies, better meet patient demands and take advantage of new treatments and procedures. While government funds the day-to-day operations of our hospitals and health care services, philanthropy helps us accomplish our vision of exemplary care and enables us to act on what we know is possible.

Board & President’s message

Vital begins with you

The transformation of health care is not an easy task. It takes people with a shared vision and passion to build the best health care system in the world–and that is taking place right here in Vancouver, thanks to donors like you.

Barbara Grantham, President & CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation with Noordin Nanji, Board Chair, on a beautiful Vancouver day.

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Vital begins with you

The transformation of health care is not an easy task. It takes people with a shared vision and passion to build the best health care system in the world–and that is taking place right here in Vancouver, thanks to donors like you.

In this Annual Report you will read amazing stories that show where philanthropy is playing a major role in delivering innovative, transformative and sustainable health care. You will read about Leon Judah Blackmore, whose incredible generosity extends beyond his lifetime. You will meet Jim Szabo, who is mobilizing his friends to support Sports Cardiology. And you will learn more about corporations like, Teck and Lumira, that are applying their philanthropy to drive innovation.

These are just a few examples of donors who believe in our cause and who step up to support the work done by the exceptional health care leaders of Vancouver Coastal Health. We are grateful to the thousands of British Columbians who invest so generously, year after year, in the places, the programs, the people and the tools and technologies that, one gift at a time, are transforming our health care system. Each of you plays a vital part in our collective success.

Looking to the future, we know that our unique mandate will bring the value of philanthropy to the vital transformation of health care. Thanks to our talented and committed team, and our passionate and visionary donors, the next chapter in our story is underway.



philanthropic pillars

Philanthropy is vital
to the transformation
of health care.

In this Annual Report, you will read some amazing stories about six areas of where philanthropy is playing a major role delivering innovative, transformative and sustainable health care.


Giving ‘the gift of life’

Leon was clearly a man of vision, personality, drive, ambition and generosity.

Nicola Brailsford holding a photo of her late friend, philanthropist Leon Judah Blackmore.

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Giving ‘the gift of life’

Local philanthropist Leon Judah Blackmore loved life.

The appreciation for life and community he acquired throughout his 81 years extended after his passing in 2015 with a gift of $18.4 million to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. The donation amount is not a random figure. Eighteen, in Hebrew, means ‘chai’ or ‘life’ and that symbolism represents the fervent lust for life that Leon had every day.

“In this way, Leon gave ‘the gift of life’ to the people of British Columbia who need our services,” says Dr. Jaap Hamburger, a VGH cardiologist and friend.

Just before the Holocaust, a young Leon Judah Blackmore fled Poland with his family to escape persecution. That experience built a moral foundation for Leon, who eventually became a private, yet significant, pillar in Vancouver’s real estate community.

Leon told friends he wanted his wealth allocated to causes where it could make the most impact and help the most people. His donation to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is distributed across several areas, including the recently opened hybrid operating room at VGH, the Men’s Health Initiative, a new Cardiac Diagnostic Centre at VGH and the newly expanded Leon Judah Blackmore Centre for Sleep Disorders at UBC Hospital.

“This gift, one of the largest our Foundation has ever received, will have meaningful impact on these priorities,” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Leon was clearly a man of vision, personality, drive, ambition and generosity. This gift will advance four of our priority areas and all British Columbians will benefit.”


Donation drives powerful medical technology

Investing in health care innovation benefits all British Columbians.

Dr. Peter Black with Stephen Sander and his wife Nancy Sander in front of “Jack”, the current robotic surgical system.

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Donation drives powerful
medical technology

Hollyburn Properties founder, Stephen Sander, wants to help as many people as he can. This is truly evident in his $2 million donation to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, which will go toward upgrading the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit at UBC Hospital and support the purchase of a new robot-assisted surgical system at VGH – a provincial referral centre for complex cancer surgeries.

“Hollyburn Properties is very proud to support residents and families across Vancouver with a donation for new medical equipment, which will help provide care to people across all sectors of medicine and have an impact for many people no matter what their illness,” says Sander with a smile, who was also a patient at VGH.

“A new surgical robot is welcomed at VGH, considering the current one is about 10 years old. This minimally invasive technique offers many benefits to patients, including the potential for reduced pain and discomfort and faster recovery times,” notes Dr. Peter Black, Senior Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre.

“Patients experience less pain, require less pain medication and generally speaking are able to recover faster.” The robot will be used for cancer surgeries as well as other non-invasive procedures.

In addition to the new robot, the gift will be used for needed upgrades to the MRI unit at UBC Hospital.

“This generous gift from Hollyburn Properties and Stephen Sander makes the purchase of technologically-advanced equipment that will improve patient care possible,” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Investing in health care innovation benefits all British Columbians.”

heart and lung

Keeping future generations active

Philanthropy allows us to do research in a field that wouldn’t conventionally get funding.

Dr. Saul Isserow, Medical Director, Sports Cardiology BC with donor and real estate investor Jim Szabo.

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Keeping future
generations active

A few years ago, in the living room of Syd Belzberg, a strategy was hatched to raise more awareness and money for sports cardiology under the leadership of Dr. Saul Isserow at UBC Hospital. Syd was an early major supporter and that day his son-in-law, Brian Kerzner, took on the challenge to reach out through his network of friends to raise more money.  Brian approached close friends and real estate leaders, Hendrik Zessel and Jim Szabo, and suggested they needed to understand this initiative and get a cardiologist.

“We didn’t think we needed one – we’re fit, bike, ski, work out,” Jim says. “Brian said, ‘You don’t want to be looking for one in the Yellow Pages, last minute, when you need one.’ Well that was the smartest thing anyone ever said to us.”

Dr. Saul Isserow was recommended as the Medical Director of Sports Cardiology BC, a multidisciplinary program at the Centre for Cardiovascular Excellence at UBC Hospital. The Centre helps people stay active while managing health risks.

“I met Saul and he talked about a research centre he wanted to open,” Jim recalls. “But there was additional funding needed for equipment and ongoing research in cardiovascular health and sports cardiology.”

“Saul is a guy you can definitely get behind,” he continues, looking around at the Centre’s hallways. “I felt like I could really make an impact in our community here. Heart disease is something you can get ahead of and be proactive in treating – you can manage it through medicine and exercise.”He pauses and shakes his head.

“People usually don’t see a cardiologist until it’s too late,” he continues. “There are athletes who don’t realize they have heart issues until it’s too late. A lot of cardiac issues we see can be prevented and I want to help that change – help change how we look at things.”

As a result of this inspiration, Brian, Jim, Hendrik reached out to their circle of friends and associates, raising over $1 million for the innovative program.

Dr. Isserow says the gifts will have a huge impact on the program and its patients.

“It’s allowing us to do research in a field that wouldn’t conventionally get funding,” says Dr. Isserow nodding his head. “It’s an entirely new area of cardiology. We’re treating a new generation who are getting to an older age, trying to do more and wanting to be more physically active. We want to help them stay physically active in a healthy way.”


Corporations harness the power of philanthropy

This has the potential to improve overall health for thousands of people. It’s a pretty incredible opportunity.

Don Lindsay, OBC, President and CEO of Teck Resources with Peter van der Velden, Managing General Partner at Lumira Capital.

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Corporations harness the
power of philanthropy

Did you know that Canadian companies rank number two in the world in generosity, with 67% reporting giving?

This noble trend continues with two Canadian companies, innovative in business and in giving as they drive innovation through generous philanthropy.

“We chose to invest in health care innovation to create significant change and give back to the community,” explains Peter van der Velden, Managing General Partner at Lumira Capital, which has pledged a portion of their partners’ profits to health care innovation. VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is one of 11 Canadian hospital foundations to which Lumira has made this commitment. “As a firm, we are very focused on supporting the development and commercialization of biomedical innovations that address unmet clinical needs and that have the potential to have a transformational impact on the lives of patients.”

And create significant change it will. This gift will harness existing BC strengths in technology and health care delivery, and advance innovation. This means getting more needed treatments to citizens, faster and more efficiently, and bringing innovations to the people who need them the most.

Like Lumira, Teck Resources Limited looks for ways to contribute to health care and the community.

Teck is funding a study to consider the use of special antimicrobial copper-bearing surfaces at VGH as well as three other hospital sites in Canada. Mostly used for pennies or wire, copper is known to inhibit microbial growth. It can combat health care associated infections, which continue to be a major burden on patients and health care systems worldwide.

“Finding new and innovative ways to reduce health care acquired infections will not only help save patients’ lives. It will keep visitors, nurses, doctors and others from getting sick when visiting a loved one or doing their job,” says Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck. “This has the potential to improve overall health for thousands of people. It’s a pretty incredible opportunity and something we are very excited to be part of.”


Embracing women in the Downtown Eastside

Philanthropy is enabling women to get the care they need within their own community.

Ceejai Julian, a peer specialist with the Intensive Case Management Team and Marjory Ditmars, a registered nurse at Vancouver Coastal Health.

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Embracing women in
the Downtown Eastside

It’s one of Canada’s most well-known neighbourhoods for all the wrong reasons. Some of Canada’s most marginalized and poorest people live in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Nearly 40% of those faces are women struggling to raise families and overcome challenges most people can’t fathom, such as physical and sexual abuse, substance use and mental illness.

“Women in the Downtown Eastside need more help. I could have used more help when I was there,” explains Ceejai Julian, a peer specialist in the area. “More resources are needed to help women. I know we can do better.”

That is why Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation joined forces to build a female-focused approach to health care policy, programs and services throughout Vancouver Community Health Services, including launching the first women-only Intensive Case Management Team (ICMT), a program built around women helping women.

The interdisciplinary team is designed for women who face high levels of marginalization, are unable to access existing VCH health services, face multiple barriers to care and have substance use and/or mental health challenges. The team will give these women the healthier and happier lives they deserve. The first women-only ICMT is a product of both strong vision and generous philanthropy.

“Risa and I were looking at ways to make a contribution to our community, particularly for vulnerable populations,” says Bill Levine. “We supported the ICMT because it’s an urgent need and vulnerable women will really benefit from these programs. They will get the care they need within their own community, within environments where they are comfortable.”

This is an innovative and high-impact solution to address the disproportionate susceptibility and risks for vulnerable women in Vancouver – it is essentially health care embracing women in the DTES. These vulnerable women are getting what they need, where they live. And visionary philanthropy made it happen.

brain health

A gift of gratitude

We wanted to say thank you.

The Kong family gathered at the Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre.

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A gift of gratitude

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that affects the skeletal muscles of the body. These muscles are responsible for breathing, seeing, swallowing and moving parts of the body. Cases of MG have increased four fold in BC over the last 20 years.

“The Kong Family’s donation has been vital in our efforts to develop better and more accurate tests for this disease,” says Dr. Hans Frykman, Medical Director of UBC Hospital’s Diagnostic Services Laboratory. “Hundreds of additional patients across Canada will now be diagnosed and cured thanks to this gift.”

“Research for this disease is really underfunded so that’s why we made this specific donation,” Eric Kong explains. “One day we hope to find a cure for this life-threatening and debilitating disease.”

In the last year of Eric’s mother’s life, the staff at VGH took great care of Lily, who was suffering from MG.

“She was at VGH quite a bit,” says Eric. “But they made it as comfortable as they could for her. I’ll never forget that.”

To show their gratitude, Eric and his two brothers, David and Alan, started the Yiu Wah Kong and Lily Kong Legacy Fund, named after their mother, Lily, and their father, Yiu Wah, who passed away in 2016. The fund has generously donated $562,000 to the Neuromuscular Diseases Unit and the Neuro-Immunology Laboratory.

“We’re giving back because the staff at VGH really took care of my mom in the last year of her life and that means so much,” Eric says, smiling. “My family was really struck by how incredibly compassionate and professional the doctors and nurses were at the hospital. We wanted to say thank you.”


Leaving a legacy of learning for neurosurgery

Jeanette Andrews left $1.8 million in support of research and education related to acoustic neuroma.

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Leaving a legacy of learning
for neurosurgery

Jeanette Andrews was a respected and hard-working teacher who had a passion for art and education.

Born and raised in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood, she taught art in Vancouver and West Vancouver and was also an instructor in the Art Education Department of UBC’s Secondary Education Program. Jeanette was much-loved by her students.

When she passed away in 2015 at the age of 71, Jeanette left a remarkable legacy of $1.8 million to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation in support of research related to acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumour that develops on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain.

“My sister, Jeanette, made this bequest to the Foundation to express her gratitude for the operations performed on her acoustic neuroma. Those surgeries saved her life,” says Allen Andrews.  “She was a uniquely strong, confident person who carried on with bravery and determination despite her declining health, and she wanted to make a difference for others.”

Acoustic neuromas can cause debilitating symptoms including hearing loss, severe imbalance and facial numbness, and Jeanette didn’t want others to suffer.

The Division of Neurosurgery at VGH is using Jeanette’s gift to adopt emerging technologies and add to their talented team. By using navigation systems and high-definition imaging, they are enhancing research, training and care to treat conditions like acoustic neuromas and other brain tumours.

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is grateful to Jeanette for her commitment to this special area of medicine. We are honoured that she chose to continue her legacy by including this generous gift in her will. Her commitment to innovative education and research will impact patients for years to come.

By leaving a bequest in your will, making a gift of life insurance or designating the Foundation as a beneficiary of your RRSP, RRIF or TFSA, your gift can help our health care teams save lives now and well into the future.

Thank you to Jeanette and to all our legacy donors. Your gift today will make a difference in the lives of British Columbians tomorrow. Learn more

Find out how your contributions have helped make us vital.

Download our full Annual Report to learn more.

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