On Healthcare Philanthropy: An Opinion Piece by William J. Walker

As a grateful patient of St. Joe’s, a retired lawyer and current Chair of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation, I want to commend those engaged in healthcare philanthropy. It’s thanks in part to the support of thousands of donors that our hospital has emerged as a world-leading healthcare and research hub right here in Hamilton.

Yes, St. Joe’s is a world leader in areas like lung disease, kidney and urinary care, mental health and addictions and more. And we in this community are very fortunate to benefit from that care. At the risk of oversharing, I’m a patient of the hospital’s Institute of Urology and feel very lucky indeed to have had access to such impeccable care. In fact, it was that exceptional care that inspired me to make my very first gift to St. Joe’s back in 2009.

When a hospital foundation tells you that every gift matters, they mean it. I’ve witnessed firsthand how donations small and large from our generous community have brought advanced surgical robots to St. Joe’s; how they helped build a more inclusive home for mental health care on the West 5th Campus; and more recently how they’ve funded much-needed PPE and on-site research that has resulted in faster ways of diagnosing cases of the very pandemic we’re all facing right now.

You need to know that provincial healthcare funding only covers the basic operations of a hospital like St. Joe’s. For the latest equipment, the most innovative research, and the power to truly change and advance care, well, for that kind of innovation we rely on the generosity and philanthropy of our community. And I want to reassure you that your donations have a direct impact on the care St. Joe’s provides to you and your loved ones.

In my role, I’ve also felt torn between feelings of pride and heartache when hearing stories about our healthcare workers who risk their lives every day to save our friends, neighbours, and family from the ravages of COVID-19. Even as I write this, St. Joe’s staff are rushing into retirement homes and long-term care centres that have been devasted by large-scale outbreaks of this virus to save and support our community’s most vulnerable populations. They are the heroes who will see us through this pandemic – just as their predecessors saw us through earlier ones.

St. Joseph’s 130-year legacy of caring for our community wasn’t built by one person. It was built by the collective compassion of generations of healthcare professionals and bolstered by the philanthropic support of our community. And I for one, am proud to support St. Joe’s and thankful for the care they continue to provide, now more than ever.

Mr. William J. Walker
Retired lawyer, part-time farmer, entrepreneur and hotelier, Chair of the Board of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation (a volunteer position)

As published in the Saturday, January 30th, 2021 edition of The Hamilton Spectator