A Calming Influence


Calming, comforting, caring and compassionate – these are the words that describe the new palliative care and family rooms located on the east wing of the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015, marked the official opening of the newly renovated palliative care and family rooms. Each room aims to give patients and their loved ones a quiet, tranquil and private space as they deal with the physical and psychological aspects surrounding end-of-life.

(l-r) Anne Vey, administrative assistant; Marilyn MacKeigan, senior site manager; and Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program of the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville. These individuals were instrumental in seeing the palliative care renovation project through from beginning to end.

(l-r) Anne Vey, administrative assistant; Marilyn MacKeigan, senior site manager; and Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program of the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville. These individuals were instrumental in seeing the palliative care renovation project through from beginning to end.

“These rooms have been designed to care for palliative patients who are near the final stages of their lives,” said Kelli. “This is exactly what our community needs.”

Inside one of two newly renovated palliative care/adjoining family rooms at the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital

Inside one of two newly renovated palliative care/adjoining family rooms at the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital

The new palliative care and family spaces were made possible as a result of the kindness and generosity of many, including the Discovery Health Care Foundation, the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Shoal Harbour Odd fellows Hall, the Provincial Government, as well as from the family of the late Jack Duffitt and various community organizations.

Renovating and decorating these rooms was no easy task; it involved the dedication and consideration of several individuals and groups, including the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital’s Palliative end-of-life Committee and many others.

Most palliative care patients would like to remain at home as long as possible; therefore the rooms were designed to create the best possible atmosphere. Hospital staff also worked hard to ensure that these rooms had a homelike appearance, balanced with soothing colours and carefully selected furnishings and décor.

“Paintings, soothing lighting, sun catchers and homemade quilts are all additions to the rooms that help provide a more personal setting that people desire,” said Marilyn MacKeigan. “The quilts have been donated by various women’s organizations in the Clarenville and surrounding communities.”

Many other important aspects have been included in the rooms to help provide a calming influence for individuals, making a difference for those who are going through during difficult times. Some aspects include, but are not limited to:

  • a bulletin board and bookcase in each patient’s room to allow family to display pictures, letters, cards and any other items to personalize their space;
  • sleeper chairs in both palliative care rooms, as well as a couch and pullout chair in the family rooms, allowing overnight accommodations for up to four family members;
  • an open concept dining and resting area, with private washroom facilities;
  • flat screen televisions in both palliative care and family rooms; and
    flower arrangements adorning the rooms, providing warmth and beauty for patients and families.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the Sunshine Supportive Care Rooms at the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville. (l-r) Collette Smith, Interim Vice President of Clinical Services; Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program; Marilyn MacKeigan, senior site manager

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the Sunshine Supportive Care Rooms at the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville. (l-r) Collette Smith, Interim Vice President of Clinical Services; Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program; Marilyn MacKeigan, senior site manager

(l-r) Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program and Margaret Duffitt, care facilitator, cutting the cake to celebrate the official opening of the Sunshine Supportive Care Rooms.

(l-r) Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program and Margaret Duffitt, care facilitator, cutting the cake to celebrate the official opening of the Sunshine Supportive Care Rooms.

The east wing of the hospital was once known as the Sunshine Manor – a small unit that provided long-term care services for the Clarenville area. The new palliative care and family rooms have been named in honour of the former wing as the Sunshine Supportive Care Rooms. The old Sunshine Manor was replaced by the Dr. Albert O’ Mahony Memorial Manor in 2009.

“The rooms allow families to spend their precious final days together in solitude and comfort, close to their loved ones,” added Kelli. “Nobody wants to, or should be alone during their final days of life. Having your loved ones next to you can help ease the process, pain and suffering.”

Providing a dignified, comfortable and homelike space for people who are going through some of the toughest times in their lives gives staff of the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital great joy. The feedback received so far by staff of the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital has been positive and incredibly touching.

Anne recalls that a family member saying that “it didn’t even feel like we were in a hospital, it felt like we were home.” Another family member indicated that “heaven can’t be any better than this.”

Improved access to health care has been identified as one of Eastern Health’s key priorities in its 2014-2017 Strategic Plan. Eastern Health’s goal is to ensure that quality and safety is threaded throughout the organization, and that residents across the eastern region have access to the right interventions, at the right time and in the right place.

“We have a very big responsibility to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we can only carry out this responsibility through partnering with the community, government and other organizations,” said Bill McCann, member of Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees. “The official opening of the Sunshine Supportive Care Rooms is a prime example of partners working collaboratively to improve access to quality palliative care – care that is close to home, care that is offered with respect and compassion, and care that aims to improve the quality of life for those who have a life-limiting condition.”

Palliative care is an integral part of Eastern Health’s overall approach to health care delivery, and is provided by teams of professionals in communities, hospitals, long-term care facilities and designated palliative care units across Eastern Health.

“On behalf of Eastern Health, I thank all of those who have been involved in making the palliative care and family rooms a reality for the Clarenville and surrounding communities,” concluded Mr. McCann. ■

This story was written by Kelli Davis, manager of the medicine/surgery, ambulatory care and chemotherapy program, Marilyn MacKeigan, senior site manager, and Anne Vey, administrative assistant of the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville.

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