Fundraiser dollars fuel improvements at CKHA

·3 min read

Chatham’s beleaguered Music for the Mind fundraiser may have played its final note.

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance has announced the money – raised by a former patient in the mental health unit – is to be spent to help future patients in the adult mental health unit.

CKHA president and CEO Lori Marshall said $54,000 of the $92,000 raised by Elisha Banks will be spent to renovate two quiet rooms, used to calm patients on the unit.

A total of $16,000 of the funds will be put towards the purchase of capital equipment, including a washer, dryer and a storage unit, and some of the dollars will be spent on renovation of the space.

Some $10,000 will used to purchase other supports for patients, including electronic devices such as tablets and MP3 players, as well as sensory kits and whiteboards.

An additional $10,000 will be set aside in a reserve fund at the CKHA Foundation for personal care supplies, which could range from socks to shampoo.

Marshall said this will be re-evaluated at the end of the fiscal year and if it’s not used, the money will be spent on other patient needs on the unit.

The spending was announced recently as part of CKHA capital spending over the next fiscal year.

Banks, who stayed on the ward for more than a month more than two years ago, started the fundraiser after observing that many patients did not have access to basic supplies, such as toothpaste and tampons.

In previously published reports, Banks said that if patients did not have family or friends to provide them with necessities, they either went without or relied on staff who purchased items out of their own pockets.

When asked to comment on the latest announcement, Banks said she could not as she has been issued a cease and desist from a lawyer representing the CKHA Foundation.

The Foundation hired Douglas Smith of Toronto law firm Borden Ladner Gervais to send Banks a letter March 18 advising her not to communicate with members of the Foundation board, CKHA personnel – including president and CEO Lori Marshall – or speak to the news media in regard to Foundation staff.

The letter alleges an e-mail from Banks to Marshall and members of the Foundation, dated March 11, “contained statements that are untrue and defamatory of CKHA Foundation staff, and we demand that you immediately cease and desist from making any such further statements in the future via e-mail, in the news media or on social media.”

All this occurred after Banks said previously she had learned the funds raised were sitting in a bank account rather than being used as intended.

Banks previously said there was miscommunication with hospital officials and what she called a “breach of trust” with the Foundation.

“For two years, I believed the money was going to purchase supplies, but it wasn’t. It was left sitting at the foundation but not being used,” she said in February.

Mary Lou Crowley, executive director of the Foundation, said at the time there was no miscommunication.

However, Marshal stated there was a hiccup in communication between Banks and hospital administration, and is grateful Banks brought matters forward.

“There was a miscommunication. I am forever grateful for her to have brought the issue to us. Had she not, we might not have realized there is a gap here,” Marshall said in February of the funding shortfall for the needed items. “I had believed that we had communicated following that (the first Music for the Mind fundraiser where administration learned of the shortfalls in funding for the unit), but I didn’t have direct communication.”

Going forward, the purchase of personal supplies is now in the hospital budget.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice

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