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Health care foundation another first for Chilliwack

Chilliwack is leading the way again in community health with the startup of a foundation whose goal is to raise funds for projects and programs that help keep people out of hospital.

The Chilliwack Hospital and Health Care Foundation will focus on preventative health care programs in this community, while working closely with the existing Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation that mainly raises funds for hospital projects.

The foundation received approval of its request for charitable status in late 2011.

John Jansen, chairman of the new foundation and a former B.C. Health Minister, said the Chilliwack community has a “tremendous reputation” for looking after its hospital, and now it has a foundation “to educate, inspire and facilitate a healthier community” as well.

“There isn’t another foundation that’s doing this kind of work,” said Donna Dixson, the new foundation’s community relations director.

She has already met with close to 100 community organizations and found “a spirit of collaboration and innovation that’s really quite unique.”

“It just makes so much sense to work with the community to shift the focus from ‘health care’ to ‘care of health’ and to work towards a day when everyone in the Chilliwack area has whatever they need, to have the opportunity to be well and stay well.”

She said the foundation will work with businesses, organizations or individuals who bring forward community health projects for possible funding.

“We are open to people coming to us with ideas,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of connecting the dots and making people aware of what’s going on.”

She said discussions are already underway about a number of different research and demonstration projects that have the potential to alter the “health path” of various segments of the population.

Fraser Health Authority officials are applauding the foundation’s preventative strategy, which fits the health region’s push to take the pressure off hospitals, the most expensive form of health care.

“This is great news,” said Diane Miller, the FHA’s executive director for primary health care.

“We know that good health can be highly influenced by the environment in which we live, and by opportunities that are made available in our communities,” she said.

“We look forward to our collaboration with the (Chilliwack) foundation as part of our healthy community partnerships ... which promotes better health for all citizens,” she said.

Dixson said that donations to the foundation are already coming in and “we will gratefully accept any contribution from those that want to be part of our work.”

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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