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How Ottawa’s business community is helping CHEO navigate COVID-19

Annual telethon runs from May 24 to June 6


As the CHEO Foundation gears up for one of its biggest annual fundraisers, staff at the local children’s hospital say the ongoing support from the city’s business community is needed now more than ever.

The strain the pandemic is placing on the region’s healthcare system extends beyond directly treating patients with COVID-19. All of the critical support provided to children continues and new mental health challenges are emerging in younger patients.  CHEO has been forced to switch many of its programs to virtual care requiring more equipment, technology and training. In many cases, the donations from the corporate community and their employees means the difference between providing world-class programming and leaving families in search of support.

The business community, along with local residents, have a special opportunity to support CHEO in late May and early June during the Foundation’s annual telethon. Supporters can be inspired through videos of patient stories and see their donations  doubled thanks to generous corporate partners.

“Everything we do stems from the support we receive from the community,” says CHEO Foundation president and CEO Kevin Keohane. “The business community is sometimes the unsung hero behind so many critical advances in children’s healthcare. We want the business community to be proud and know that we are so thankful for their continuing support.”

Community funded care

Although the provincial government covers a portion of the hospital’s operational costs, they do not cover the cost of life saving equipment, patient and family support programs or the basic necessities for ground-breaking pediatric research. These are funded by donations to the CHEO Foundation.

For example, the hospital’s Child Life program – which aims to make a child’s stay at CHEO as positive as possible through education, play and counselling – provides vital support to young patients and their families only through the support from community donations.

Similarly, the hospital’s asthma program and social work program are also funded by community support, making them reliant on annual donations.

“ Having access to the best equipment, support programs and leading research are critical in helping us provide the level of care our kids and families deserve,” says Keohane.  “The business community plays such an important role in all this.”

And, with nearly 500,000 lives touched by CHEO every year, the hospital’s need for funding continues to grow as demand increases.

CHEO is seeing a dramatic increase in mental health related cases, prompting the hospital to onboard additional support and broaden its programs – which will require ongoing funding as the crisis continues.

“It’s really important for us to acknowledge the role the business community plays in CHEO’s success,” adds Keohane. “They enable us to provide care for the children, youth and families who rely on all of us.”

Giving back is good for business

It’s now easier than ever to donate to the hospital thanks to CHEO’s embrace of virtual fundraising.

While CHEO has long offered online giving options, the pandemic shifted all of the Foundation’s initiatives online, making it even more safe, convenient and important for individuals and businesses to donate.

For Modern Niagara chief operating officer Chris Hill, sponsoring the 2021 virtual CHEO Telethon was a natural fit for his company.

Having worked with the hospital on various fundraising initiatives in the past, Hill says it was a “no-brainer” for the company to step up, especially during the pandemic.

“When it comes to giving back, CHEO is always a part of the conversation for the Ottawa team,” he says. “As a children’s hospital, the services touch everyone’s life in the community. No matter who you ask, they’ve likely been to CHEO at least once.”

As part of the two week-long telethon, Modern Niagara will be matching donations up to $20,000, with a specific goal of bolstering the hospital’s mental health programs.

Whether you can personally donate, or encourage your workplace to, it’s everyone’s responsibility to support an institution like CHEO, adds Hill.

“When we give back to our community, good things happen,” he says. “It’s good for business, for our team and for our neighbours. Why wouldn’t we want to help in any way we can?”

Join the Telethon!

From May 24 to June 6 visit to see patient stories and to learn about the important programs funded by donations to the CHEO Foundation.