Lesley Heighway fosters both passion and results when it comes to health care philanthropy

PRHC Foundation President and CEO has helped raise more than $21 million for our hospital over the past five years

In her role as President and CEO of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation, Lesley Heighway leads team of professionals and volunteers who have raised between $4 and $5 million every year for the hospital. (Photo: PRHC Foundation)
In her role as President and CEO of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation, Lesley Heighway leads team of professionals and volunteers who have raised between $4 and $5 million every year for the hospital. (Photo: PRHC Foundation)

Not too many of us can claim the work we do every day affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people of every age, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic background — but Lesley Heighway can.

As President and CEO of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) Foundation, Lesley works hard to bridge the ever-increasing gap between government funding and the necessary costs of providing high-quality care at our region’s hopsital.

For almost six years now, Lesley has led a team of professionals and volunteers who have raised between $4 and $5 million every year for PRHC — more than $21 million over the past five years.

“Many people don’t realize the government does not typically fund hospital equipment or technology,” she says. “That’s why the most generous communities have the best hospitals.”

These community donations fund the tools and technology that form the backbone of patient care at PRHC and help bring new lifesaving services to our region. Not only that, but a hospital’s ability to fund state-of-the-art equipment and technology is one way to attract and retain health care professionals, helping to put the standard of care at PRHC on par with the top hospitals across Canada.

A tireless advocate and ambassador on behalf of PRHC, Lesley is clearly passionate about health care philanthropy. She’s personally helped thousands of people understand the tangible ways their donations are transforming health care.

“Donors are touching the lives of people they’ve never met every day,” she says. “Our role as a foundation is to give donors an opportunity to give back, while at the same time seeing how their donations are making a real difference in the lives of patients and their loved ones.”

Thanking donors for their support, PRHC Foundation President & CEO Lesley Heighway (middle) with staff of PRHC's Breast Assessment Centre: Senior Ultrasound Technologist Katelyn Martino, Breast Health Navigator Lindsey Justynski, Senior Mammography Technologist Jill Cummings, and Clerk Angela Henderson. (Photo: PRHC Foundation)
Thanking donors for their support, PRHC Foundation President & CEO Lesley Heighway (middle) with staff of PRHC’s Breast Assessment Centre: Senior Ultrasound Technologist Katelyn Martino, Breast Health Navigator Lindsey Justynski, Senior Mammography Technologist Jill Cummings, and Clerk Angela Henderson. (Photo: PRHC Foundation)

The PRHC Foundation is committed to supporting the hospital’s centres of excellence, which serve the region with state-of-the-art cancer care, cardiac care, and vascular surgery — some of the fastest growing and most innovative areas of health care.

With her wealth of business knowledge along an MBA specializing in leadership, Lesley aspires to match the private sector for innovation and creative thinking when it comes to fundraising, while still maintaining the warmth and compassion that fuels inspiration among her team.

And these efforts have paid off. Under Lesley’s leadership, in 2016 the PRHC Foundation was recognized by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy as a “High Performer” for 2014/2015, putting it in the top 25% or more than 2,200 health care organizations across Canada and the United States. The international professional organization gave the designation to only 45 health care foundations.

“We’re extremely proud of this achievement,” Lesley says. “It speaks to the commitment of our team and our Board of Directors to the responsible stewardship of community donations.”

With her passion for health care philanthropy, a wealth of business knowledge, and an MBA specializing in leadership, Lesley Heighway aspires to match the private sector for innovation and creative thinking when it comes to fundraising, while still maintaining the warmth and compassion that fuels inspiration among her team. (Photo: PRHC Foundation)
With her passion for health care philanthropy, a wealth of business knowledge, and an MBA specializing in leadership, Lesley Heighway aspires to match the private sector for innovation and creative thinking when it comes to fundraising, while still maintaining the warmth and compassion that fuels inspiration among her team. (Photo: PRHC Foundation)

A typical work day for Lesley consists of working with donors and spearheading fundraising efforts that currently include $8.75 million in cancer care investments, $2.7 million for a new Learning Centre for PRHC, $1.75 million for surgical investments, $1 million for technology for women’s and children’s services, and additional millions for equipment that covers all areas of the hospital from the Emergency Department to Palliative Care.

In the last two years alone, Lesley has successfully led efforts to fund:

  • Two of three new mammography machines needed for breast cancer screening in PRHC’s Breast Assessment Centre, part of a $1.9 million campaign.
  • A $1 million investment in upgrading nine of PRHC’s 12 operating rooms for minimally invasive surgery, enabling PRHC to begin to transition from performing 35% of all surgeries using minimally invasive techniques to performing 80% that way.
  • An $850,000 investment in upgrading and expanding the Cardiac Cath Lab with vital technology upgrades that have significantly reduced procedural radiation exposure for both patients and PRHC physicians and staff, as well as technology that’s brought brand new cardiac treatments to our community for the first time.
  • $1.1 million in state-of-the-art laboratory equipment investments that enable faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment, particularly in cancer care.
  • Other vital investments in patient care areas across the hospital from the Emergency Department to ICU, in Women’s and Children’s, Diagnostic Imaging, Cancer Care, Palliative Care and more.
VIDEO: Mike’s Story
“Mike’s Story” is one of a series of videos the PRHC Foundation has produced under Lesley Heighway’s leadership that help people understand how their donations make a real difference in the in the lives of patients and their loved ones.

While the success of PRHC Foundation’s fundraising efforts speaks for itself, Lesley’s passion for philanthropy extends far beyond our community. She is involved with an advocacy and advisory group of regional hospital foundation CEOs from across the province. As one of Peterborough’s foremost experts in legacy giving (giving through estate plans), she takes a lead role in working with financial and legal advisors.

She also shares her extensive knowledge and experience with the community through a wide range of board and advisory roles with other organizations and service clubs, as well as a variety of coaching and mentoring relationships with up-and-coming fundraising and young business professionals.

While Lesley is the first to acknowledge that the success of the PRHC Foundation is not hers alone, there’s no denying the impact of her expertise in leadership, motivation, and workplace culture in that success.

“I’m extremely proud of my team and I’m dedicated to supporting them to achieve their highest potential,” she says. “It’s all about creating an organizational culture that fosters passion as well as results.”

The Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) Foundation is located at One Hospital Drive in Peterborough. For more information about the PRHC Foundation and how you can make great health care possible in our community, call 705-876-5000, email foundation@prhc.on.ca, or visit www.prhcfoundation.ca. You can also connect with the PRHC Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo.

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