Kelowna General Hospital nurses stand outside the hospital with locked arms, opposing a group of roughly 1,000 people who protested COVID-19 health measures outside of the hospital on Sept. 1. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Kelowna General Hospital nurses stand outside the hospital with locked arms, opposing a group of roughly 1,000 people who protested COVID-19 health measures outside of the hospital on Sept. 1. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Kelowna hospital foundation ramps up White Hearts Project after anti-vax card protest

Funds raised through the project will go towards mental health support, respite opportunities

In light of the recent protest that took over streets surrounding the Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) on Sept. 1, many people have been looking for ways to support Kelowna health care professionals and boost their morale.

This is why the KGH Foundation is revving up its White Heart Project, which was originally launched at the beginning of the pandemic to offer community support for local health care workers.

Now, people can choose to give a gift or they can download a printable white heart that they can post on their windows.

The renewed interest in supporting workers comes after people gathered outside hospitals across the province on Wednesday (Sept. 1) to protest the vaccine card. Others were there to protest the vaccine and alleged forced vaccinations.

Demonstrations like the one outside KGHare another huge blow to morale,” said a nurse who asked to remain anonymous.

KGH Foundation CEO Doug Rankmore said they’ve received a number of calls asking how they can help, donate or show their support for health care workers soon after the demonstration.

“We are working directly with KGH administration, department managers and our Spiritual Care Lead to ensure all funds go directly to care and comforts that help relieve some of their stress and brighten their day, even just a little,” he said.

Food, flowers and other physical donations are discouraged at this time, due to increased infection control, Rankmore added.

“We often can’t accept these gifts. So we want to ensure that people have a viable option to channel their generosity.”

READ MORE: Kelowna restaurant faces threats of boycott over provincial vax card mandate

KGH patient and family-centred care lead Derek Koch said they are seeing more and more health care professionals speaking out about the toll the pandemic has taken on them.

“Our teams continue to deal with their own fears, loss, disappointment and personal risk, digging deep to give of themselves through each and every shift,” he said.

“And then they come back and do it again the next day. They are tired, they are demoralized and they need our support.”

Funds raised through the White Hearts Project will go towards care and comfort items such as coffee, baked goods, lunches, mental health supports and respite opportunities, both for hospital staff and community health care workers, especially staff at Brookhaven, Cottonwoods and David Lloyd Jones which have suffered from outbreaks throughout the pandemic.

“Supporting health care workers in this way has tremendous impact,” Rankmore said.

“Not only does it boost morale but it will also positively affect the patient care experience by relieving some of the emotional burden staff are carrying.

“And maybe renewing their faith in humanity. For folks that got into these professions because they genuinely want to help people, this is so important.”

For more information on the White Hearts Project, as well as to donate, visit the KGH Foundation’s website.

READ MORE: ‘A slap in the face’: Central Okanagan Search and Rescue without gear after trailer theft


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