Merlis Belsher (BComm’57, LLB’67) received his vaccine on Friday, March 12, in the building that bears his name. (Photo: John Grainger)

Belsher gets his vaccination at Merlis Belsher Place

Merlis Belsher (BComm’57, LLB’63) walked out of the building that bears his name on Friday after receiving a potentially life-saving vaccination for the coronavirus, nearly a year after the pandemic swept across the globe.

“I didn’t feel it at all. I truly didn’t,” said Belsher, about getting the sharp jab into his arm from the needle. 

Getting to this point of receiving the vaccine has been something he’s been waiting for like so many others in this province. He added he’s been hyper-vigilant since the outbreak began about following the outlined safety protocols from the province.

Belsher said it’s imperative for people to ensure they get vaccinated, especially with the variant numbers beginning to swell in Saskatchewan. “I’d urge everybody to come here and get their vaccine when they can.”

Merlis Belsher Place (MBP), the on-campus multi-sport facility to which Belsher contributed more than $12 million to the $51-million project, opened in the fall of 2018 to glowing reviews and is now home to the USask women’s and men’s Huskie hockey teams, and includes a separate hockey rink for community use, basketball practice facilities with two full-sized basketball courts, as well as the Ron and Jane Graham Sport Science and Health Centre.

Because of the pandemic, Merlis Belsher Place is now a major site for the Saskatchewan Health Authority's (SHA) mass vaccination plan where it’s anticipating thousands of area residents will receive their vaccines.

Early in local pandemic planning by the SHA, USask administration was approached to use MBP as a potential site as an emergency pandemic field hospital site with as many as 250 beds for COVID-19 patients. It has now been tweaked as a vaccination hub, but can return to a field hospital on short notice.

Belsher says he and the university always envisioned a true Saskatoon-community multi-purpose facility on campus. It being used as a vaccination centre and field hospital is proof it is just that, he said.

“To me, it’s very humbling. I have trouble talking about it. I get very emotional.”

Belsher lauded USask President Peter Stoicheff for having the vision for such a facility in concert with the various levels of government and significant support from donors like himself.

“It’s the university and the community at large who truly benefit.”

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