Karin Sitko’s husband Rick spent his final days in the hospice unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
After his death, she decided to volunteer to fix up a room, to bring comfort to patients and their families at such a troubling time.
Her suggestion quickly took on a life of its own, ultimately growing into a 10-room refurbishment, paid for through an $800,000 capital campaign.
In addition to new beds, flooring, lighting and colour schemes, each room comes equipped with a small fridge, a 32-inch television and improvements to heating systems to improve environmental and air quality control.
“Initially I thought maybe doing a room myself, maybe painting, buying some furniture, trying to make it better for families who had to spend time here,” Sitko said.
“We decided to make it a campaign and change the entire unit as opposed to just one or two rooms. It kind of grew from there and here we are today looking at all the wonderful changes that have happened.
Seeing is believing, and Sitko said she can’t believe how great changes are.
“It’s just fantastic. It’s a vision I had for some time now. To see it here today is something else,” she said.
Clint Harris, campaign co-chairman alongside Sitko, said he’s been involved in dozens of similar campaigns over the years, but had never seen the response like he had with the hospice renovation project.
“I’ve never been in a campaign when we asked for money and they quadrupled it,” Harris said.
Hospital president and CEO Tracey Buckler said the changes were a long time coming, but the renovations should make things a lot easier for patients and their families, pointing to new couches that fold out into single beds for guests as an example of a simple fix that carries big benefits to all.
“It looks a 100 times better as far as aesthetics and a home-like environment, but it also is very functional and very useful for the staff and for the clients’ comfort,” Buckler said.
“It’s a huge transition for people and it’s really a journey and a point in their life that comfort is paramount and critical at this point for families and for the clients. So we want to be able to provide as much home-like environment, as much comfort as well as the exceptional care that is provided here.”
Buckler added hospital officials would eventually like to complete similar renovations on the 22 other rooms on the hospice palliative care program floor.
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