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2014-02-12 at 11:50

Homegrown gifts

By Leith Dunick,
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The Thunder Bay Health Sciences Foundation is trying to make patient life better one grant at a time.

On Wednesday the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s fundraising arm handed out $65,000 in Family Care grants to 43 projects. The money will be used to purchase equipment suggested by staff to enhance patient experiences.

Physiotherapist Angelo Melchiorre said his department is using its grant to purchase a mobile ergometer, an upper-body exercise machine that can be wheeled to someone’s bedside.

“Rather than having the patient come down to (our) department, patients that were unable at one time to access that therapy, we can now bring it to them. Patients who can’t get out of bed, patients who are on ventilators or isolated for cautions, we can now do cardiovascular training for them,” Melchiorre said.

“It’ll prevent functional decline, improve their physical fitness and in the end, ultimately, reduce their hospital stay. That’s the whole goal.”

The grant program began in 2009, when the foundation handed out $30,000. Two years later it had grown to $60,000.

This year staff applied for 73 grants totalling $157,000.

The 2013 grants will cover a wide variety of equipment, including bedside safety mats for at-risk patients, specialized wheelchairs for stroke and brain-injured patients, a TV, DVD player and gaming system in the adult mental-health ward and consent forms translated into Oji-Cree, Cree and Ojibway.

Foundation president Glenn Craig said it’s money well spent in his mind and improves morale for everyone at the hospital.

“I think it really empowers those people who are day in, day out working with our patients when they have an idea. ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea if we had this. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that,’” Craig said.

“It gives them an outlet to actually have those wants and dreams fulfilled. It’s a little bit after Christmas, but it sort of feels like Christmas today for about 40-some staff members.”

It wasn’t easy making the final decision.

A lot of the projects pull at people’s heart strings, Craig said, adding it’s even tougher with previous recipients on the decision-making committee.

“It’s very easy to say yes and it’s very hard to say to say no,” Craig said.



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