Fishing Fleet Holds Impromptu Donation Drive for Unalaska's Clinic

Thursday, April 04 2013

The ventilator is a critical part of the Iliuliuk Family and Health Services emergency room. It provides breathing support for patients while they wait for medevac flights. But after ten years, the clinic’s ventilator seemed to be breaking down. 

Clinic director Eileen Scott says one of her EMTs took notice. 

"We had some folks in here for an emergency and Gary Sandness was in here and actually started talking about getting a new ventilator."

When he’s not volunteering as an EMT, Sandness works for Alyeska Seafoods. He mentioned the ventilator to one of his colleagues there. They turned to the fishing fleet to start fundraising for a new machine.

To spur donations, they set up a contest, pitting fishing boats that offload in Unalaska against the “offshore” motherships and factory trawlers.

The six catcher vessels in the Alaska Boat Company donated $3,000. General manager Chris Kline says they were happy to do it.

"Well, I think we all need the services of the clinic," Kline says. "And whether we’re community members or transient fishermen or fish processors, we rely on them and they need to rely on us for some financial support – plain and simple."

Scott, the clinic director, was out of town when the fundraiser started. When she got back to work, she says there was a stack of checks waiting for her. It added up to $9,000.

"We were totally shocked -- thrilled, of course," she says. "But just like, 'Oh, really?' I didn’t know all this was going on!"

With the money, the clinic was able to buy a top-of-the-line ventilator.

"It’s already here, staff has already trained on it," Scott says. "We’ve actually used it for a couple of patients. It’s just nice to have something state of the art, brand new. We don’t usually get those things here. We’re excited about it."

At this point, Scott says donations are still rolling in from the fleet. The excess money will be used to assist with other programs.

Cheers on Tuesday, April 09 2013:

What a lovely story! I hope this makes the big city news.

Just Saying on Monday, April 08 2013:

I have such mixed feelings about this. Although it is great someone took notice and realized the ventilator is old and "after ten years, the clinic’s ventilator seemed to be breaking down." My concerns are this; as written in the article, "We had some folks in here for an emergency and Gary Sandness was in here and actually started talking about getting a new ventilator," Why is it that this was not looked at earlier? Why is there no maintenance procedures in place where equipment it tested, changed out or what ever is done..sooner rather than later? I find it concerning that an EMT was the one that pointed this out and not the medical staff, who is there daily. Why is that? This is just another indication of the issues the clinic has, and the type of care available to the community. Someone needs to step up and take charge...some time soon, don't you think? I know if I am in need of medical assistance, my medical needs may not be met leaving me to wonder what that means for my longevity....
Just saying...

Unalaskan in the past on Friday, April 05 2013:

I think that is such a great way for the community to help provide a critical service. Gary is an amazing person who has always had a good heart.

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