The Victoria Hospital Foundation this month is celebrating the fourth anniversary of its Weekly Radio Bingo program.
Since the program began in February 2009, it has helped the hospital purchase more than $200,000 of medical equipment, while bingo players pocketed more than $304,000 in prize money.
Total sales of the ubiquitous $5 bingo game packs available at retailers amounted to $645,265 over the last four years.
“Sometimes fundraisers come and go,” Victoria Hospital Foundation executive director Rob Dalziel said. “They’re a one-time, one-off thing or they maybe go for two or three years, then they just kind of go away.
“And this one, so far, we don’t see an end in sight. We’re getting tremendous support from not only the people in Prince Albert, but we retail them throughout a whole area … It’s really quite amazing.”
The one-hour Radio Bingo program is broadcast every Thursday between 7 and 8 p.m. on Today’s Country 900 CKBI. It can also be heard in La Ronge at 95.9 FM and in Big River on 92.5 FM.
A variety of different games are available, with perhaps the most prominent being the “Loonie Pot” with its $5,000 cash prize.
Radio Bingo serves two main purposes for the Victoria Hospital: Generating revenue to purchase much-needed medical equipment, and raising awareness of the hospital’s need for that revenue.
Dalziel said although the Victoria Hospital receives money from the government, more is always needed, in part due to the considerable traffic at this particular location.
“This hospital is challenged because it has a tremendous load,” he said. “I mean, it serves almost all of Saskatchewan from border to border to border, right up to the Northwest Territories. Occasionally we’ll have people in here from … neighbouring provinces, northern Manitoba, and sometimes they come down from the territories to this hospital. They don’t all go to Saskatoon or Regina.
We have seen over the years a tremendous change, as we’ve year after year after year been able to help the hospital in so many areas. - Rob Dalziel
“So this is a busy, busy place, and one of the issues is that our population is growing. The north is booming economically, cottage country is exploding with people opting to … retire in Alberta and come back here and fix up the cottage to a house and live the good life at the lake, I guess.
“But they all need health services, and so one of the things that happens is that the equipment gets used constantly, so it wears out faster, and so the lifespan of the equipment is shorter just because of the high volume of use.”
Funds raised from programs such as Radio Bingo and the hospital’s annual charity golf tournament help supplement the resources allocated each year in the provincial budget to health care.
Each year, after paying for prizes and operating expenses, Radio Bingo has been able to raise $50,000 that it contributed to the GIVE a little life DAY radio-thon for medical equipment.
Dalziel says all that extra cash has made a visible difference at the hospital.
“The numbers don’t lie,” he said. “The volumes of procedures are going up, the waiting lists are going down, and part of that is having reliable equipment that doesn’t break down, that the tests are accurate and that there’s certainty with the results.
“That’s what new equipment gives you, and we have seen over the years a tremendous change, as we’ve year after year after year been able to help the hospital in so many areas.”