Santa Claus arrived by air ambulance on Tuesday (Dec. 14) to visit children, parents and staff in B.C. hospitals, including Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
The visits were courtesy of Santa Flights by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and Helijet.
For 17 years, BCEHS and Helijet have delivered toys and Christmas cheer to hospitals in Victoria, Surrey, New Westminster, Nanaimo and Abbotsford, as well as BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre.
Last year, due to the pandemic, toys were delivered to children in hospital by staff as Santa was unable to visit them in person.
This year, Santa was again able to visit the courageous children in pediatric units and the dedicated front-line health care workers who look after them.
“I’m delighted to hear that BCEHS and Helijet are helping make Santa’s personal hospital visits a reality once again,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
“Every day I am amazed at the tremendous courage and resilience B.C. children and youth have shown throughout this pandemic. That’s especially true of the children who are bravely fighting illnesses in our hospitals. Every step we take to put this pandemic behind us is cause for celebration, and Santa’s return to our hospitals is especially inspiring.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the visits were particularly important “in a time of stress and worry.”
“It’s so nice that we have a chance to brighten the spirits of both the children receiving care in our facilities and those front-line workers, who continue to show dedication and courage while providing crucial medical care,” she said.
Joining Santa for the air ambulance flights was Joanna Stefani, one of BCEHS’ specially trained Infant Transport Team (ITT) paramedics, who helps care for and transport babies and young children with acute or traumatic emergency health needs to hospital.
Also on board was Danny Sitnam, president and CEO of Helijet, which operates the province’s air ambulance helicopters for BCEHS.
“After last year’s restrictions, and everything else the province has been through since the pandemic began, it’s especially heartwarming to return this year and help Santa lift the spirits of the children and health-care teams at B.C. hospitals,” Sitnam said.