Family donates to fund BTHC heliport

Boundary Trails Health Centre Foundation chairperson Grant Thiessen and STARS pilot Jason Johnson (right) with Corissa Wiebe, Irene Krahn and Farrell Krahn, who donated $350,000 to the heliport project in memory of father and husband Ed Krahn. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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A generous donation from a local family will single-handedly fund a heliport for Boundary Trails Health Centre.

Irene Krahn and her children Farrell Krahn and Corissa Wiebe donated $350,000 to the BTHC Foundation to make the dream a reality. The donation is on behalf of father and husband Ed Krahn, who passed away a few years ago.

Farrell, speaking on behalf of the family at the official sod turning on June 13, said Irene shared her and Ed’s hopes of donating back to the community in a way that would benefit the entire region. The family had a few ideas in mind.

“Then one day while driving past the Boundary Trails Health Centre and seeing the STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) helicopter on site, the idea of a heliport came to be,” Farrell said. “We all agreed that this was the project we wanted to pursue.”

Irene contacted STARS in 2018 and after plenty of corresponding, the dream is becoming a reality.

“It is our hope this helipad will serve for many years to come and be a support to those in their greatest time of need,” Farrell said. “We cannot think of a better way to honour the memory of our father and husband and give back to the community that has given so much to us.”

Chairperson of the BTHC Foundation Grant Thiessen said it has been a journey to figure out what the project would look like, what it would cost and where the money would be coming from.

Thiessen said after hearing they would be getting a donation, the Foundation was getting ready to fundraise the remaining cost. Since the donation will cover the whole cost, the Foundation was able to move follow-up donations to other projects.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It speaks to our community and the people that are in our community, and their generosity and their vision for the need of the area. It’s just fantastic.”

The upgrade will cement Boundary Trails’ reputation as a regional health centre. “It is already a regional centre,” Thiessen said. “Now we have safer access with them being able to land in an appropriate spot and consistent spot. It’s great for the region.”

CEO of Southern Health-Sante Sud Jane Curtis said the heliport is all about timely access to care that patients need. “When you have patients who need life saving treatment, every second counts,” she said. “It’ll make a huge difference.”

The STARS Air Ambulance has been to BTHC almost 200 times, and Curtis said the presence of STARS was one of the reasons the heliport was such a welcomed idea. “Now having the helipad will just make it safer, more efficient, more comfortable for patients and easier for staff as well,” she said.

Curtis said the donation from the Krahn family was incredible. “I’m really humbled,” she said. “What an incredible sign of generosity, it’s going to make such a difference for this community. I think we’re all just incredibly excited and grateful for this family to come forward like this.”

The Foundation anticipates that the heliport will be completed by the end of this year.