By Doug Draper
As the parents of ReillyAnzovino – the Fort Erie teen who died following car crash this December – continue their call for a provincial inquest to determine if Reilly would still be alive today if emergency rooms had not been closed at hospitals in Fort Erie and Niagara Falls, they have joined others in south Niagara in establishing a bursary in her memory.
The bursary, announced this February 22 at a Fort Erie council meeting by the Yellow Shirt Brigade, a citizens group fighting for fair access to emergency and other hospital services in Niagara’s southern tier, will provide financial assistance to deserving students entering Niagara College’s Paramedic Program.
Reilly died shortly after arriving at the Welland Hospital’s emergency department following a late night accident on a stretch of Hwy. 3 in her hometown of Fort Erie the day after this Christmas.
“We, as a family, would like to take this opportunity to say that having a Bursary fund set up for students wishing to pursue the Paramedic course at Niagara College is a great legacy for our daughter and sister Reilly Kennedy Anzovino,” said Reilly’s parents, Tim Anzovino and Denise Kennedy, and their son Kain Anzovino, in a statement they shared with Niagara At Large.
“It is a beautiful, appropriate gesture of kindness (and) it will hopefully be that little bit extra that students will need to assist them with pursuing their educational goals,” added Reilly’s family. “It is also the chance for Reilly to continue to touch the lives of others -something that she has noticeably done for the last 19 years of her life. … Reilly has shown the gift of giving in our home for the last 19 years of her life. She always put others before herself, and we are so thankful that this (bursary) will be a chance for her memory to stay alive and for her to be able to continue giving to others.”
Reilly’s parents, three area MPPs – Kim Craitor, Tim Hudak and Peter Kormos – and many others across the southern tier of Niagara have called s for a public inquest into the circumstances around her death. The calls stem from concerns that she might have survived if she could have been rushed to either the Fort Erie or Port Colborne hospitals to be stabilized, at the very least. Due to the downgrading last summer of the emergency rooms at the Fort Erie and Port Colborne sites to “urgent care centres” for cost-cutting reasons pushed on the Niagara Health System by the provincial government, rushing her to either one of those hospitals was no longer an option.
Sue Salzer, a Fort Erie resident and head of the Yellow Shirt Brigade, said “when the news spread throughout our town of Reilly’s death, we joined with every family in Fort Erie to grieve the loss of her young life.
“It gives the Yellow Shirt Brigade such pleasure to join with Reilly’s family to announce a bursary program to start a student on the way to becoming a Paramedic. This is so fitting considering the questionable circumstances surrounding her death. We will continue to fight for Emergency Care for our Community and we join the many voices demanding an inquest.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the bursary may donate cash or cheques in memory of Reilly to branches of the Fort Erie Credit Union or mail a donation “in memory of Reilly Anzovino” to Niagara College Foundation, Maid of the Mist Campus, 5881 Dunn Street, Niagara Falls, ON, L2G2N9
(click on www.niagaraatlarge.com for Niagara At Large and more news and commentary on this and related issues of interest and concern to our greater Niagara region.)