Lion Mike Phillips - suitably masked for the COVID-19 pandemic - stands with the helipad in the background. Photos: Lion Carol Martin
In 2012, after a major fund raising effort, the Gabriola Community Health Centre opened. The facility is owned by the The Gabriola Health Care Foundation, a community owned registered charity. Tenants include Gabriola Dental, Lifelabs, a massage therapist and Island Health which provides home care and nursing services. The major tenant is The Gabriola Medical Clinic which has three full time doctors plus locums that provide a wide range of services. As well, the doctors use a three-bed urgent treatment facility. This facility treats urgent cases with most returning home but also stabilizes patients who need to go to hospitals on Vancouver Island by ambulance or helicopter. In 2019, 1,700 patients used the urgent treatment facility with only 10% requiring off-Island help. The Centre provides service to well over 75% of the Island’s over 4,000 residents plus visitors. The Centre was funded by hundreds of cash donors, generous supplies of free or heavily discounted materials, and thousands of hours of volunteer time.
The Gabriola Lions Club assumed responsibility for landscaping the 4 acre property, work that still continues. Club members spent many days raking rocks, grass seeding and planting. Somehow it all worked and the property looks lovely. It has withstood deer, rabbits, dry conditions and strong winds! The Lions have however, done more. Many times the Lions have provided financial help since the opening, generally for clinic equipment enhancements and additions. It is fair to say that almost every Islander benefits from our support.
Recently it became clear that, in accordance with Transport Canada requirements, the western approach to the helipad required work to facilitate continued safe access. Under the guidance of Lion Mike Phillips, an ardent Centre supporter, a cleanup programme was organized that will allow safe helicopter access for many years. The Lions again supported this endeavour at a cost of $2,401.87. As a benefit, all the salvaged wood will be bucked and given to Islanders as part of the Club’s ongoing efforts to help community members.
Our participation in this project defines community service. The Gabriola Lions Club is are very proud of our Medical Centre and the part our Club had in making it happen.