Six months to the day it applied, the Cochrane and Area Hospital Foundation received its charity status and its vital CRA number from the federal government.

"It took some wiggle room to get that done, but now we can go ahead with the projects that we have on stream right now," says foundation chair Brian Winter.

A determined group of citizens have been working towards this day since laying the groundwork in October 2022.

READ MORE: 14 step forward to help do groundwork for health foundation

Even before it received a charitable number, the foundation completed its first project.

A $5,000 donation from the Cochrane Foundation was used to enhance and equip the new pediatric follow-up program of the Cochrane Urgent Care Centre. By doing so, it avoids unnecessary trips to Calgary for Cochrane area families.

"It was just happening in a regular patient room," Reid Kimmett, the foundation's communications director, told town council in a presentation last night. "There was nothing centred towards kids, equipment for kids, so they reached out. They wanted to enhance this room, they wanted to get some new equipment to make it more accessible and friendly for families and for their child patients."

Helping to improve the amenities at the urgent care centre is a major role of the foundation.

Future projects include security and privacy enhancements for the triage area, having wall suction available throughout the entire centre, acquiring a slit lamp for complicated eye procedures, and purchasing additional stretchers.

Winter says they are about to receive a major financial shot in the arm for their projects from the Cochrane & Area Victim Services, which is being folded into a regional body.

Last night, Kimmett also announced the hospital foundation has been named the major benefactor of the 18th Annual Monumental Tournament of Aces being held on Oct. 5.

Mayor Jeff Genung praised the foundation, calling them unsung heroes in the community. He says the key is for the town and foundation to work closely together from different angles to improve health care in the community. 

"We want all the same things, and that's health and well-being for our residents, regardless of whose jurisdiction it is," said Genung.

One of the long-term goals of the foundation is to see the urgent care centre become a 24/7 operation. It believes the best approach is to slowly extend the hours until that goal is met. Pushing for a 24/7 operation without adequate funding, something Airdrie first faced, would be counterproductive.

Winter says they have recently invited Health minister Adriana LaGrange to tour the urgent care centre. No date has been set, but the request has been acknowledged by LaGrange's staff.

The formation of the local foundation has been closely watched by other communities. The lessons they learned along the way will be shared with others, like Sylvan Lake, who are interested in creating their own foundation. 

Information on how to donate to the foundation has been included on its website, which has a handy QR Code. Upon receiving a charitable number, Winter immediately made a personal donation through the QR Code and confirmed it works just fine.

You can find more details on the foundation and make donations here.