In December 2021, the Estate of Joe Switzer proudly announced Joe's generous gift of $248,484 to our foundation for Covenant Health’s Banff Mineral Springs Hospital. Joe’s bequeathment will help fund the renovation of the Banff hospital’s emergency waiting room and triage area, as well as help provide enhancements to the hospital’s palliative care room.
“We’re tremendously grateful to the late Joe Switzer for his estate gift that will improve care for patients and families who rely on Covenant’s Banff Mineral Springs Hospital,” says Tracy Sopkow, CEO of the Covenant Foundation. “Through his remarkable generosity and love for his community, Joe has left a legacy that will help transform emergency and palliative care in the Bow Valley for generations to come.”
The Banff Mineral Springs Hospital provides 24/7 emergency care for patients, acts as a rural learning centre for residents in emergency medicine and nursing, and includes the St. Martha’s Place continuing care wing, which offers recreational and therapeutic supports to residents and families.
“We’re so thankful for Joe’s contribution,” says Margie Smith, the hospital’s site administrator. “Joe's gift in support of emergency and palliative care is going to have a huge impact on our patients — and it’s going to have a huge impact on our staff and feeling they are giving the best possible care.”
There were more than 10,000 emergency visits at the Banff hospital in 2020/21.
The emergency waiting room and triage area renovation will improve patient flow, reduce congestion, decrease waiting room and triage area separation, improve opportunities for hospital staff to develop patient trust, and enhance patient privacy, which is a critical factor in patients feeling safe in voicing concerns and receiving person-centred care. This renovation will also allow hospital staff to better observe changing medical conditions and provide essential care to patients.
The palliative care room renovation will allow for the purchase of specialized equipment and upgrades to the only palliative care room in the hospital, which is frequently used by the aging population in the Bow Valley. Updates such as a palliative geriatric chair allowing patients to be securely upright when visiting others will meet the needs of aging community members by providing them with a comfortable, dignified and tranquil space to spend quality time with loved ones during their final days.
“I am super passionate about both of these projects,” says Margie. “We want to get it to a point that encompasses comfort and care and love.”
On February 13, 2020, Joseph (Joe) Switzer passed away in Banff, Alberta at the age of 84 years. The youngest of 14 children, Joe was born and grew up in Edson, Alberta where his father, Harvey A. Switzer built the local pharmacy in 1912. Switzer’s Drug Store continues to be operated by his family there today.
After graduating high school, Joe left Edson to work at Shell Oil Company for three years and then completed his first year of business administration at the University of Alberta. In the summer of 1957, Joe was hired at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Having enjoyed his first taste of the hospitality industry, Joe decided not to return to university and instead travelled to the Bahamas, where he found a job at the Nassau Beach Hotel. Over the next 58 years, Joe worked his way up in the hotel business and managed several hotels in both the Bahamas and Alberta.
One of the hotels in Banff that Joe managed was the Inns of Banff where his management style was viewed by most of his employees as more on the autocratic side (firm but fair!). In fact, as Joe’s reputation grew, his loyal staff referred to the Inns of Banff as “Switzerland.” In 1988, Joe was honoured to serve as the president of the Skål Club of the Canadian Rockies.
Joe was known for his easygoing nature, genuine personality and kindness. He was a philanthropist and regularly donated to many charitable causes.
During the sunset years of his life, Joe sincerely appreciated the attention and high level of care he received, especially at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital. Being very passionate about his Rocky Mountain town of Banff, he wanted to make a difference and give back to the community.
Joe's legacy will help to improve patient care at Covenant's Banff hospital for generations to come.
Read more about this story in the Crag & Canyon and the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
To learn more about how you can make a planned gift and leave a legacy for care in your community, please visit our Planned Giving page.