Print COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund Press Coverage

May 8, 2020

Support the HSC Foundation’s COVID-19 fund

By: Donna Minkus. Published in The Metro – Winnipeg Free Press on January 22, 2021

Health-care workers have been at the forefront of patient care since the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in our city and province. To show gratitude and acknowledge those who have sacrificed so much, the Health Sciences Centre Foundation has created a special fund that supports front-line workers and their patients.

The HSC Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund was established in March 2020 and continues to evolve in response to changing needs.

I became aware of the fund when my nephew, Randall Hofley, who is from Winnipeg but now lives and practises law in Ottawa, made a contribution  and invited family members to help reach a goal he had set in the Hofley-Minkus family name. His invitation to participate included a link to the donation website, so I decided to check it out.

I listened to an interview with Jonathon Lyon, president  and CEO of the HSC Foundation, and learned that the fund initially provided patients in intensive care with iPads so they could connect with loved ones, and that telephones and televisions were also provided to patients in hospital wards.

Since patients could not have visitors, they could talk to their families on the phone, and the televisions helped them pass the time, allowing front-line workers to focus on their care.

Information provided by Natasha Havrilenko, HSC Foundation’s marketing and communications officer,  indicates the fund has provided complimentary phone, television and video chat services for patients at more than 500 beds and these technologies will continue to be funded for at least the next four months.

The fund also provides support for front-line workers through its “feeding the front-lines” initiative, which provides complimentary meals to frontline health care workers at HSC.

As the pandemic unfolds and needs change, the COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund has purchased a wide range of equipment to fill various needs. For example, equipment for patient care includes 35 high-flow nasal cannula machines (which deliver oxygen) to keep people off ventilators for as long as possible. Equipment to support HSC’s virtual COVID-19 outpatient program for people recovering at home was also purchased and includes tablets, thermometers and oximeters (which measure oxygen levels).

The foundation wants the fund to be available for the duration of the pandemic so it will continue to raise money to meet emerging needs. For instance, three portable ventilators are required when transporting patients and at bedsides outside the intensive care unit.

Manitobans are known for their generosity and the foundation is asking all who are able to step up and make a donation to the COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, according to their means. Any amount will be appreciated, and those who make a donation of at least $15 will be provided with a tax receipt.

To find out more or to make a contribution, visit or call 1-204-515-5612.

HSC Foundation gets a $500k shot in arm

By: Julia-Simone Rutgers. Published in the Winnipeg Free Press on November 16, 2020

Donations to the HSC Foundation will pack twice the punch, the foundation says, after an anonymous donor pledged to match up to $500,000 until the end of December.

“This is a continuing effort — when COVID became a reality for us in Manitoba, our foundation… felt it was important to take a leadership role in supporting frontline medical staff and the patients of HSC who rely on their care every day,” foundation president Jonathon Lyon said in an interview Sunday.

HSC Foundation launched a COVID-19 response fund for the first wave, which has remained active through the second surge of COVID cases this fall. Money donated to the COVID-19 fund supports both frontline healthcare workers and patients at the province’s largest hospital through equipment purchases, technology purchases, and support for other needs as they arise.

“We’re the connector between donors who want to help and the need that exists at HSC to support patients and frontline health care workers,” Lyon said. “Given the challenging times, we’re fortunate that there are so many in Manitoba who want to help.”

The HSC Foundation was approached by an anonymous donor willing to put $500,000 towards the cause, Lyon said, opening up an opportunity for the latest matching initiative.

“There’s an understanding… that government can’t do it all, government won’t do it all, they shouldn’t do it all,” Lyon said.

“We as citizens of the community can help out and should help out and where those who have capacity like this incredible donor does… they want to make it happen.”

Funds, at this point, will be used to purchase specific equipment including cannula machines, portable ventilators and monitoring technology to help staff stay safe caring for COVID patients. Funds will also be directed towards to help families stay connected to loved ones in hospital, turning on TVs and internet access at more than 500 beds. The foundation is able to stay nimble, however, and will direct money towards patient and healthcare worker’s needs.

“Ultimately everything we do supports patients, but in the context of this, there’s benefit for both frontline health workers and medical professionals and patients,” said Lyon.

“We can react quickly, we can move quickly, we’re nimble and we can pivot at a moment’s notice.”

The HSC Foundation purchased iPads for the hospital’s ICU in the spring, and will be purchasing a further 24 iPads for patients in surgery, emergency and women’s health departments with the new donations.

While the anonymous donor has pledged $500,000 in matching funds, Lyon said there’s no limit on how much the foundation hopes to raise.

“We’re hoping to earn the trust of donors and receive greater than $500,000 because there’s incredible need at Manitoba’s hospital to support the frontline workers and patients during this challenging time — we know Manitobans are generous and they’ll step up,” he said.

Over 1 million made-in-Manitoba reusable masks to be ordered by province

By: Libby Giesbrecht. Published on on May 9, 2020

The province of Manitoba says they are planning to order up to one million new reusable masks that have been designed and produced in Manitoba for front-line health care workers.

The locally-made N95 silicone masks are a success story for the province, Central Services Minister Reg Helwer says.

“It is very exciting that we are able to place an order for these reusable N95 masks that were designed and are being produced right here in Manitoba,” he says, adding that it is a priority for the government to ensure they are providing high-quality personal protective equipment to front-line health care workers in Manitoba.

The new mask is designed to comfortably protect front-line health care workers during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Two Manitobans, Dr. Christian Petropolis and Dr. Adrian Robertson, were behind the creation of the reusable silicone masks, which have been designed to meet the needs of front-line health care workers in the province.

“We owe it to the front-line care provider to keep them safe and maintain their confidence in their new protective equipment,” says Robertson, medical director of intermediate intensive care at Health Sciences Centre.

Precision ADM, a Winnipeg-based manufacturer, was selected by the province to produce the new mask design. The province says the masks will be produced at a  price competitive with similar masks produced overseas.

An order for 500,000 of Petropolis and Robertson’s masks has been placed with the company. The province also has the option to purchase another 500,000 masks over the next 14 months.

Helwer calls the production of the new masks “extraordinary” for the province.

“By working together and harnessing the ingenuity of Manitobans, we’re helping keep Manitobans safe and healthy in the face of this global pandemic,” Helwer says.

Province orders Manitoba-made reusable masks

By: Danielle Da Silva. Published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 8, 2020

WINNIPEG — The first batch of reusable respiratory masks that are made in Manitoba is expected in hospitals within weeks.

The provincial government has ordered one million reusable silicone N95 masks from Precision ADM in Fort Garry, Central Services Minister Reg Helwer said Friday.

The government placed an initial order for 500,000 masks and has an option to purchase 500,000 more over the next 14 months. The value of the contract is $9.27-million.

Martin Petrak, the president and CEO of Precision ADM, said medical masks are an addition to the medical products manufactured at his firm. It specializes in 3D printing and product engineering for the medical, aerospace and energy sectors.

“It’s definitely an area that most companies in Canada have not focused on,” Petrak said. “We hope that with a strong partnership with different companies and organizations in Manitoba, there could be opportunities to work to help satisfy other needs that might be out of province and potentially help with some of the COVID responses to the N95 shortages by manufacturing in Canada.”

Governments have scrambled to get N95 medical masks, which filter out bacteria and viruses, because of high global demand.

Provincial health officials have said staff is working with 600 suppliers to bring in personal protective equipment.

To bypass supply chain challenges, the province put out a call for manufacturers to mass produce a reusable, silicone mask designed and 3D printed by local doctors Christian Petropolis and William Turk.

The mask, including the straps, is silicone and has an external compartment where an N95 filter is inserted.

Petropolis, a surgeon at Health Sciences Centre, said prototype testing of their masks in health-care settings shows the design is comparable to traditional disposable N95 masks. The masks were also tested for fit and comfort, Petropolis said, and Health Canada approval is pending.

“We tested them with different filters that were rated for different levels, and the mask wasn’t the limiting factor,” Petropolis said. “The mask was able to perform at the level of our respirator.”

The masks can be sanitized and worn as many as 30 times, depending on use and abuse, care, and other variables, Petropolis said.

“If this was taken care of very well, it could probably last indefinitely,” he said. “It’s a difficult number to say, but the idea was if they could get 30 uses, it could be quite beneficial.”

The masks will be soft-launched next week to further refine the design before Precision ADM ramps up production. Manufacturing is set to begin the week of May 18 and masks would be distributed a short time later.

“The sooner that we can get everyone protected, the sooner we can get back to treating patients,” Petropolis said.

Petrak said the first phase of production will involve hand-pouring a run of masks for immediate use while engineers at Precision, and subcontractors BOMImed and Melet Plastics, prepare to scale up manufacturing to a silicone injection process.

“It’s a rudimentary stop-gap to try to get these silicone masks into health-care workers’ hands as quickly as possible,” Petrak said.

Meanwhile, his firm will also collect feedback from wearers to address any flaws.

Precision ADM also 3D-prints nasopharyngeal swabs for the province; production capacity is expected to reach 80,000 a week.

Petrak said as many as 40 workers will be hired at the firm.

‘Feeding the Frontlines’ Program Providing Meals to Manitoba Health-Care Workers

Published by Chris D News on April 15, 2020 

WINNIPEG — Some of Manitoba’s frontline health-care workers were treated to a complimentary meal Tuesday evening.

Donors to the HSC Foundation purchased food from Earls Kitchen + Bar for staff coming off shift at the Health Sciences Centre as part of the new Feeding the Frontlines program.

Following social distancing guidelines of two metres of separation, personnel lined up to receive their meal.

“Our goal is to rally the community in support of the health care professionals serving Manitobans on the frontlines at HSC,” said Jonathon Lyon, president and CEO of the Health Sciences Centre Foundation.

“We want to thank them, and we need to take care of them. By providing meals, our community is acting to nurture, nourish, and express gratitude.”

Dinner will be served again on Friday night, April 17. The HSC Foundation is asking donors for financial support to extend the Feeding the Frontlines program for the foreseeable future, and to expand the program to more nights per week.

Earls is also making it easy for customers to donate to the HSC Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund when they order food online from any of the three Winnipeg locations.

The fund has been making hotel rooms from Canad Inns available for frontline health care workers who need to rest and wash between shifts or before going home. The initiative has helped frontline workers manage the unique stresses of working in health care in these days of COVID-19.

“Our donors have responded very favourably to everything we have been doing and we are very grateful. But given the unpredictable nature of this pandemic, we need to do even more as a community to support our frontline heroes,” added Lyon.

HSC Foundation to support staff through new COVID-19 crisis fund

By: Jeremie Charron. Published by CTV News Winnipeg on March 23, 2020


WINNIPEG — Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre Foundation has launched a COVID-19 crisis response fund to help support its staff.

A press release, put out by the foundation Monday said the fund will help support the efforts of physicians and staff at HSC as they work to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients.

“We are rallying donors to do what they can to support our dedicated doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and other facility staff, as well as patients they treat,” Jonathon Lyon, president and CEO of the HSC Foundation, said in a release.

“We all need to take care of frontline health care workers so they can take care of the rest of us.”

The foundation is working with the hospital to identify the needs of its workers.

The fund will help acquire communications equipment which will help families stay in touch with their loved ones in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“This is what we are working on today, but we know that new needs will continue to arise,” said Lyon. “The COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund will help ensure that HSC can provide optimal care in uncertain times.”

Donations to the HSC Foundation COVID-19 crisis response fund can be made online.

You can also donate by calling 204-515-5612 or (toll-free) 1-800-679-8493.

Donated phones, tablets provide vital connections for hospitalized kids

By: Danielle Da Silva. Published in the Winnipeg Free Press on March 3, 2020


With bedside visits restricted at care facilities and hospital in-patients seeing fewer friendly faces amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a dose of technology is keeping kids at Children’s Hospital connected with their loved ones.  More than 40 smartphones and tablets were donated anonymously to the hospital this week, and staff were connecting the devices online for kids to video chat with family members at home.

“While this COVID-19 crisis is unfolding around us and disrupting our lives, there’s still kids… that are there for various reasons other than COVID-19,” Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba president and chief executive officer Stefano Grande said.
“When restrictions come on in terms of visitation, it becomes more challenging for kids to stay connected with their families.”

Provincial public-health officials have suspended visitor access at all hospitals, with exceptions for compassionate and end-of-life reasons, on a case-by-case basis, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the in-patient population and among health-care workers.

Pediatric patients and those at the Children’s Hospital are allowed just one visitor at a time. That means parents, siblings and extended family are not able to be together at a child’s bedside to provide support through what is often a frightening and unfamiliar experience.

“The impact of having just one person at a time, this is quite significant,” Grande said. “We know that kids need to keep connected with their families, the kids need to stay connected with their friends and even stay connected with their family pets. “We know that’s part of the healing process.”

Grande said tablets for video conferencing were flagged as an immediate need by the hospital executive, and the foundation put out a request to donors. Red River Co-op also responded to the call and donated $6,000 to purchase additional technology upgrades.

“Despite the crisis everyone is facing personally, whether it’s their businesses or finances, people are still finding a way, corporations are still finding a way to help,” he said.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba has been forced to cancel its two of its major fundraising events due to the pandemic, including the annual Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Children’s Hospital Book Market. The book market raises about $500,000 each year for the foundation to support children’s programming at the hospital, Grande said.

“We’re reaching out to our donors that we know can help us right now and we’re putting out appeals to anyone that can help, and we’re going to work hard in the months to come to make sure those programs can continue,” he said.

The Health Sciences Centre Foundation has also launched a COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund to support staff and physicians as the hospital prepares for an influx of patients. Communications equipment for patients in intensive care is also one of the emerging needs identified by the hospital.

“Donor support will keep the hospital nimble as it continues to prepare for the care needs of COVID-19 patients while still providing care for other seriously ill patients and people with emergency needs,” HSC Foundation president Jonathon Lyon said in a statement.

“Through all this, we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support the entire HSC team as they work to keep Manitobans healthy.”