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Family CARE Grants Fund Unique and Helpful Items at Hospital

By Heather Vita - January 14, 2017

For the 8th year in a row, staff at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre have been applying for grants for the ‘little things’ that can make a significant difference to patient care. Thanks to funding provided by donors to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, along with the Volunteer Association to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, this year $64,237.65 was provided to fund 38 Family CARE (Care Advancements Recommended by Employees) Grants. Since its inception in 2009, 260 grants have been funded.

Barry Streib, Director, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation said, “It is remarkable. Each year this grant program receives more and more applications, which speaks to its success and impact. This year, for instance, we had 83 grant applications, totaling $199,806.32. Our committee had to make tough decisions on where to allocate the funds, however I’m confident the items we chose to fund will greatly benefit patients and families using our facility.”

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Funding for 38 Family CARE (Care Advancements Recommended by Employees) Grants totaling $64,237.65 was announced by the Volunteer Association to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. Items funded are the 'little things' that can make a big difference to patients and families. In its 8 year history, this grant program has funded 260 grants in areas across the Hospital. Pictured from left to right are: Cathy Britt, Vice President, Volunteer Association to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre; Barry Streib, Director, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation; Erica Moorhouse, Manager, Labour & Delivery, Maternal/Newborn and Maternity Centre; Christina Purdon, Manager of Pediatrics and NICU; and Dawn Korol, Team Leader, Operating Room.

Cathy Britt, Vice President, Volunteer Association to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre echoed Streib’s comments, “I would like to congratulate all applicants to the 2016 Family Care Grant program, regardless of their success.  We received many outstanding applications, and although it was difficult to choose between them, it is truly a pleasure knowing that the grants which were funded, will help to improve the patient experience.  I would like to thank the volunteers who contribute to our fund raising efforts in many ways, and staff and visitors to the hospital that support Seasons Gift Shop.  Your ongoing support will allow us to continue funding Family CARE Grants in the future; we couldn’t do it without all of you!  For me personally, it was a wonderful and gratifying experience, and I am very proud of what our committee accomplished.”

Jean Bartkowiak, Hospital President & CEO, praised employees for submitting ideas and funding applications to enhance patients’ and their families’ experiences. “What I like most about this program is that it empowers our employees and gives them the opportunity to suggest improvements in their areas to enhance the care they provide. Patient and Family Centred Care guides our Strategic priorities. Our patients’ needs and expectations influence how we care for them. These grants only strengthen our ability to put patients first,” he said.


In total 38 Family CARE grants, ranging from $225 to $3,952 were announced which will fund the purchase of equipment that will benefit patients across the Health Sciences Centre. Some of the items making a difference in 2017, thanks to the 2016 grants, include:

  • Equipment for the Intensive Care Unit including a new highback patient chair, visitor chairs, walkers and transfer belts.

  • Step platforms for Diagnostic Imaging and the Fracture Clinic to assist patients in getting into the proper position for x-rays while remaining safe and stable.

  • An exercise bike for the Adult Mental Health program to facilitate exercise for patients who are unable to leave the unit.

  • A blanket warmer for Forensic Mental Health to provide comfort during times of distress.

  • Various items for Inpatient Unit 1A such as a Hovermatt System to assist in moving patients from bed to stretcher, new highback patient chairs to encourage and help patients get out of bed and new doors with windows for private rooms so nurses can better monitor patients when doors need to remain closed.

  • Equipment for our very busy Emergency Department including new Staxi wheelchairs, patient bedside chairs, wheeled walkers and a pediatric compression board, to be used in the unfortunate event that a child needs CPR.

  • A sensory therapy toolkit designed to manage behavious in elderly patients living with dementia. The items arouse one of more of the five senses to evoke positive feeling, calmness, as well as to stimulate cognitive activity and socialization.

In addition to these grants there were several other unique items funded. In particular one that stood out to the grants committee was an application from the Operating Room for Piercing Removal Equipment. Dawn Korol, Team Leader, Operating Room explained, “Piercings have changed dramatically in the last decade or so, and have become challenging for the Operating Room to provide a safe environment for surgeries.  Some of the problems they can cause are burns, airway issues, and accidental removal upon changing the position of an anaesthetized person.  By having tools to remove piercings preoperatively, we can provide the best possible care ensuring no injury. We are very grateful to be able to provide this service.”

Parents of young children will also be comforted to know about several items that will make their stay a little easier. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), three new mattresses and boxsprings will be put into use in the adjacent parenting rooms where parent(s) can stay with their infant close to discharge or when their infant is critically ill. As well, new breast pumps will be available for breastfeeding mothers to support infant feeding in both the NICU and Pediatric Department. When an infant is premature and has not yet learned how to successfully breastfeed, a mother can establish and maintain a milk supply by pumping regularly. A mother can also maintain her milk supply if she has a sick infant who normally breastfeeds at home, and then, once hospitalized cannot eat due to a medical condition. Finally, two sleeper chairs were funded in Pediatrics to support parents as they stay with their child. Manager of Pediatrics and NICU, Christina Purdon said, “Having a parent or family member nearby during hospital stay makes a big difference for a child who is sick. A parent's presence means so much more to a child than a nurse, a doctor, or even pain medication. The Family CARE Grants are beneficial to patients and families within the Women & Children's program in so many ways. The staff and physicians are thankful for the hard work in fund raising and commitment provided by the Health Sciences Foundation and the Volunteer Association in keeping this program going year after year.”

The final item funded this year was one the committee didn’t think twice about approving. Erica Moorhouse, the Manager, Labour & Delivery, Maternal/Newborn and Maternity Centre, explained the need for a Cuddle Cot in the Labour and Delivery Department. “While there are many healthy babies born at the Hospital, there are, sadly, some that are stillborn or who pass away early in life. The Cuddle Cot is a special cooling blanket system that fits within our bassinets. It maintains the integrity of the infant by creating a cooled environment, which allows the family time with their infant to grieve. I applied for this grant as I was approached by a family who had previously delivered a stillborn and who had found the experience very overwhelming. As part of their grieving process, they identified the Cuddle Cot as an opportunity to bring some peace to other families going through such a difficult grief process.”

A full list of all 2016 grants can be found online at healthsciencesfoundation.ca/familycare

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Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation
980 Oliver Road  |  Thunder Bay, ON, Canada P7B 6V4  |  807 345 4673  |  info@healthsciencesfoundation.ca
OUR MISSION: To inspire the people of Northwestern Ontario to give generously to advance our healthcare at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

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888314648RR0001