Cardiac nursing gets a helping hand

Heart problems couldn't stop Jack Sharp. Ten years ago he received a pacemaker and after receiving excellent care from his cardiologist Dr. Robert Sheldon, he and his wife Betty decided they wanted to give back.

When they asked Dr. Sheldon where they should make a donation, "(He) said we should use the money to help educate nurses in this area," said Betty speaking about the Cardiac Devices department, "often the nurses don't have the money to go and get the extra education and so that's what we've been doing."

Jack, nodding in agreement added, "There is so much need in health care but it's the people in the trenches, the nurses, that are often forgotten."

Dr. Sheldon referred the couple to Calgary Health Trust. In 2004, they set up the Arrhythmia Program Staff Education Endowment which provides financial support for continuing education and professional development for nurses.

The gift of education is one they know will keep giving for many years to come. "We hope that we will have enough money in our fund that the interest alone will be able to look after the program when we're gone," said Jack.

For the recipients of the endowment the benefits are priceless. "Gifts like the ones given by Jack and Betty Sharp are invaluable," said Karen Hillier, RN, Supervisor of the Cardiac Device Clinic.

She notes that Alberta Health Services has limited resources for providing continuing education for staff in her department, but the Arrhythmia endowment fills in the gaps. "It increases our access to valuable courses and more of our staff have the opportunity to attend sessions that aren't usually available to them."

"This year four of our staff were able to attend the Heart Rhythms Society Conference. It's an organization of specialists in the field of cardiac care. There are over 14,000 attendees who have the opportunity to network, learn and share information," said Karen, "We are able to attend different sessions then we bring back the information we've learned and share it with our colleagues. From there we are able to take the best practices and new developments in arrhythmia and implement what we've learned to better patient care."

For Jack and Betty being able to support the nurses makes it worthwhile. "Over the years we have received some wonderful letters from the nurses thanking us for the opportunity to go to Toronto or the United States and if they're happy I am thrilled," said Jack, "We're not looking for the glory. Life's been good to us, we've been very, very fortunate. So if we can help, I think we owe it to Canada to do so."

Endowments reflect your commitment to support health care for the long term and many donors are surprised by how affordable it can be. Often named for a family member or individual, an endowment is a legacy that can give indefinitely with a manageable investment now, or later, through your estate.

If you would like to create an endowment fund, for yourself or in honour of a loved one, please email Shahr Savizi, Planned Giving Officer or phone 403-943-0620.