Every year when December rolls around, SHN annual donor Robert Atkinson makes his yearly donation to SHN Foundation. In 2020, he decided to make his yearly donation a little bigger because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I always say if you have good neighbours, help them in any way you can,” Robert tells us. “It’s the same with SHN – the General hospital is my neighbour, and they’ve provided very good care for me and my family over the years. So, making a yearly donation is my way of helping out a good neighbour.”

Originally from northern Ontario, Robert moved to Toronto to start his career. When he met his wife, a Scarborough-native, he relocated to Scarborough where they’ve been since the early 1990’s. General hospital is their hospital, and Robert gets what he describes as a “warm, fuzzy feeling” about being so close to their community hospital.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Robert couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu.

“In the late 90s my wife and I were travelling, and we ended up staying in a hotel in Hong Kong on our way home,” Robert reminisces. “We stayed at the Metropole Hotel, which by now everyone knows is where the SARS epidemic would originate only a year or two later.”

A couple of years later, Robert was having some pain in his back that took him to a chiropractor’s office. After visiting a few times, he received a phone call asking the last time he had an appointment.

“They told me someone had went into the chiropractor’s office who had SARS, and that I had to quarantine for three days,” Robert says. “Luckily I was okay, but one doctor and one or two patients did end up unfortunately passing away due to the virus.”

Robert had to visit the General hospital only a couple of months later to have an intestinal operation, and he remembers the experience vividly.

“I was recovering in a ward on the fourth floor, and there was a ward right down the hall treating SARS patients,” Robert recalls. “We weren’t allowed any visitors, and I remember waving to my wife through the window because I couldn’t see her in person.”

Although Robert was recovering alone, he remembers how wonderful and caring the staff were during his time at the hospital.

“It’s important to give back to SHN because these are the people that keep us alive and healthy when we need it the most,” says Robert. “Right now, giving back is more important than ever. I implore people who are able to give a little bit, especially now when we’re not spending on our regular activities – like vacations or the movies – and give back to help in a practical, tangible way.”

We are incredibly grateful to donors like Robert who support SHN and our incredible frontline team members. If you would like to make a donation to SHN and help the fight against COVID-19, please visit SHNFoundation.ca/DONATE.