By Thandiwe Konguavi
Staff Writer

Albertans have a $2-million reason to support two Covenant Health hospitals.

The Covenant Foundation has launched its 2017 Caritas DreamLife Lottery with all the money raised going to support the emergency wards of the Misericordia and the Grey Nuns hospitals.

“This is a very important event for us. It is the largest single money generator we have on behalf of the foundation,” said Ron Gilbertson, chairman of the Covenant Foundation. “It’s a very major source of revenue for us.”

“The emergency wards at both the Misericordia and Grey Nuns are just tremendously over-utilized. They desperately need more resources. So we thought that’s something we could contribute.”

The two emergency departments were both designed for 25,000 people, but last year more than 51,000 patients were served at Misericordia and more than 70,000 patients served at the Grey Nuns Hospital.

Many of those patients are from Edmonton’s most socio-economically challenged neighbourhoods, said Tana Fish, program manager of the emergency department at the Misericordia.

“The DreamLife Lottery will support two of the busiest emergency departments in this city that see people in time of urgent need,” she said. “This includes seniors and people with mental illness, people who represent a large portion of those who walk through our doors every day.

“Your support makes a significant difference in the lives of many people.”

The lottery will not be funding expansions to the Misericordia or Grey Nuns emergency rooms to address the overcrowding. 

However, the lottery funds will finance service enhancements such as specialized equipment and improvements to the waiting rooms - including new beds and walkers in emergency wards - over the next couple years, said Dr. Owen Heisler, chief medical officer for Covenant Health.

“We want to be very mindful that this is a gift we’re receiving, and that we’re putting careful thought into how we’re going to spend it and how we’re listening to our patients,” Fish added.

In the last 25 years the Covenant Foundation has raised more than $22 million from the lottery, averaging almost $1 million each year.

Gilbertson said in addition to the lottery, the foundation is also supported by personal donations, often from families of patients at Covenant Health.

This year, the Caritas DreamLife Lottery grand prize is a four-bedroom, 4 1/2-bathroom dream home in Cameron Heights. At 5,453 square feet, it’s the biggest home in the lottery’s history.

Other prizes include luxury cars, cash, and destination packages including a nine-day, eight-night vacation in Jordan, a first-class Galapagos sailing voyage, and a safari adventure in Zambia. Each prize is worth more than $10,000.

Each lottery ticket is $100, with discounted tickets also available in sets of three, six, and 12.

Tickets for the lottery can be bought online at DreamLifeLottery.WIN, by phone at 780-944-2774, by mail to P.O. Box 1850, Station Main, Edmonton, AB T5J 4V5, or in person at the dream home, located at 4182 Cameron Heights Point NW, in Edmonton.

Tickets are also sold in the main lobby of Grey Nuns Community Hospital and Misericordia Community Hospital or at Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre’s Foundation Office.

Final draws for the Caritas DreamLife Lottery will be held on Nov. 10.

The final deadline to purchase tickets is Oct. 19.

Covenant Health is Canada’s largest Catholic healthcare organization.