Like many Canadians, Bluma Appel was moved by the courage of the nurses who fought to contain the SARS epidemic of 2003 – and was saddened by the deaths the disease caused. Now Appel, a social activist and philanthropist, has given $350,000 to help fund a state-of-the-art training lab at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Nursing.
Appel says her gift reflects a personal commitment to Canadian nurses and an appreciation for their work on the front line with patients. “I became very interested in nursing during the SARS epidemic,” says Appel. “So many nurses got sick, and some even died because they were taking care of sick patients. My friend Jeannie Butler, who is a nurse and a very good friend of the faculty, says better training with infectious disease control will help save lives.”
The training lab is located in the newly renovated home of the Faculty of Nursing at 155 College Street. The facility opened in January, and contains an isolation room for infectious disease training – the only one of its kind in Canada.
Appel says it is particularly important to support training for health-care workers now, as nurses will play a crucial role in the event of a global influenza pandemic. “I think nursing is the most underappreciated profession,” she says. “Nurses have great courage and commitment.” Appel and Butler are now in the preliminary stages of developing a new fundraising campaign for the faculty called “The Flight of 1,000 Nightingales.”