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THUNDER BAY -- Connor Ferguson knows a trip to the hospital can be stressful.
The 12-year-old suffers from diabetes and has spent more time in hospital than he’d care to admit. But it hasn’t stopped the youngster from dedicating his time to making the experience better for other patients, especially in the pediatric ward.
On Tuesday the fruits of his efforts were unveiled, with the announcement of the purchase of a wagon to transport young patients to the operating room and other appointments, one of 42 Family Care grants handed out through the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and the Volunteer Association to the Health Sciences Centre.
“It is really stressful, but now that I look around it looks more relaxing now,” Connor said. “Patients like it a bit better now.
“I thought that the wagons were a good idea because when I went to get tubes for my ears they took me away on a stretcher and I couldn’t really have any control over it. So I decided to bring in wagons for kids to have a better experience of going to any kind of surgery.”
The grants, which began in 2009, help purchase comfort items for different departments at the hospital, items that might get overlooked when capital budgets are being discussed.
Among this year’s grants, which totaled $65,000, were a microwave and toaster and a warming blanket for patients awaiting surgery.
“Sometimes the smaller things that may not cost as much as some of the larger items that are looked at for hospital and patient care, make a huge difference to the patients and it makes a huge difference to the family members who come and visit and take care of their friends, families and relatives while they’re in the hospital,” said Barry Streib, a member of both the Family Care grant committee and the Health Sciences Foundation board.
Streib pointed to the purchase of DVD players and a shelf unit to house the movies.
“It’s just a little bit of entertainment where you can put in a DVD and watch whatever you want to watch. While patients and family members are waiting for care they have an environment that makes them feel a little bit more at home,” he said.
In order to go forward, each grant requires the advocacy of a patient and family advisor, like Connor, as well as that of a department manager and executive vice president.
Since the program first began, more than 100 grants have been funded, to the delight of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre president Andree Robichaud.
“We’re proud of the care provided here and thrilled with the creativity of our employees in generating grant ideas,” she said in a release. “The Family Care grants are a wonderful way to support our patient and family-centred environment and we are grateful to the Health Sciences Foundation and Volunteer Association for their ongoing commitment to this program.”
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