The Royal Inland Hospital Foundation is grateful to be the recipient of a $70,000 gift from the Sandra Schmirler Foundation in support of Royal Inland Hospital’s (RIH) Rita C. Mercier Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The Sandra Schmirler Foundation was created to honour the legacy of Sandra Schmirler, a three-time world curling champion and Olympic gold medallist who tragically lost her life to cancer at the young age of 36. Inspired by Sandra’s commitment to family and loving heart, the Sandra Schmirler Foundation was created to ensure that babies born too soon, too small or too sick have the chance to grow up to be a champion like Sandra.

“She was the Queen of Curling, affectionately called “Schmirler the Curler”. Sandra always seemed to find a way to win. In so many games, in so many different situations, and in so many different places. Even when we knew she was sick, we believed she would find a way to beat her illness. While she lost her biggest battle, she ultimately won through her continued growing legacy with the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.” – Bernadette McIntyre, Sandra Schmirler Foundation Chair

Since inception, the Sandra Schmirler Foundation has raised over $7 million in support of countless Canadian hospitals, in every province and territory, to purchase life-saving equipment for thousands of premature and critically ill babies and their families. Every year, at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, this wonderful organization provides a grant to a local hospital to purchase life-saving equipment for their NICU. This is the Sandra Schmirler Foundation’s way of thanking the local community for hosting the tournament and showing up to support the Sandra Schmirler Foundation Telethon, which takes place annually on the first Sunday of the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship – Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

As the only tertiary referral hospital in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap health service area, families from across the region rely on the specialized care offered by RIH’s Rita C. Mercier NICU. Babies as young as 30 weeks visit the NICU for various reasons that may include low birth weight, difficulty breathing or infection. Here, infants are treated, monitored and nurtured around the clock to ensure that when the time comes, they are healthy and strong enough to go home to their loving families. The Sandra Schmirler Foundation’s contribution will go toward purchasing equipment such as bedside fetal monitors designed to measure the vital signs of babies and their birthers before and during childbirth, bassinettes to comfort and cradle RIH’s youngest patients, and Giraffe Shuttles which are an invaluable transportable power source for neonatal equipment.

“The Rita C. Mercier NICU would like to extend and immense thank you to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation for their incredibly generous donation. This gift will be used to ensure that we are able to continue to provide excellent care to our most vulnerable population and their families. Caring for small, premature and critically ill babies requires an extensive amount of highly specialized equipment that we may not have access to without your support. We are so grateful to you and to our community for the donations to our unit so we can continue to care for families and babies.” – Ashley Watson, RN, BScN, RIH NICU Clinical Practice Educator, NRP Program Coordinator

“As the Tournament Capital of Canada, Kamloops is thrilled to be hosting the 2023 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. We are truly honoured that the Sandra Schmirler Foundation has chosen us to be the recipient of their generous gift of $70,000 to benefit the Rita C. Mercier Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Royal Inland hospital. These funds will help us ensure that the highly skilled NICU team of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals have the equipment they need to deliver exceptional care to every newborn they treat.” – Heidi Coleman, Royal Inland Hospital Foundation CEO.