July 2013 - Laughter and smiles graced Palliative Unit 43 at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, when a group of tenacious and committed people from the Clitar Heroes Foundation presented a giant cheque to the unit for $93,325.37. The funds will go to renovate the existing palliative rooms into home-like atmospheres for patients and their families. $50,000 dollars of the donation was contributed through a partnership with the Covenant Foundation.
The Clitar Heros foundation was set up in honour of Krista Michelle Simms, who passed away on unit 43 in 2010 of cervical cancer. Her physician, Dr. Pablo Amigo described Krista as “always a gracious, amazing mom, who couldn’t spend enough time with her children.” He also said she was a “true girly girl” and Pablo is sure she would appreciate all of the aesthetic changes to the patient rooms.
“There are families right now that could use a room like that—an environment that resembles home. Every moment is so precious. I think this is going to be huge in allowing families to spend time together,” says Pablo.
Krista’s family and friends, including her mother, Leslie Gierulski, were proud to present the cheque, and can’t wait until they can show people what their donated funds will do for future patients, especially families with children.
“It’s not just the patient in here—it’s the families too. That physical contact with your family is so important, just to have someone rub your back makes all the difference.” Leslie went on to say that they had spent every night with Krista, and would sometimes sleep in a chair beside the bed with her four-year-old on their lap. “Think about the difference it’ll make to make the rooms more comfortable, warm and inviting for families.”
Leslie explained that the idea for the home-like and family-oriented rooms came from a conversation that she was having with a new father, who was appreciative of the maternity rooms allowing him to lay down on the bed with his new family. She immediately thought of the importance of doing the same thing for someone at the end of their life.
The first renovated room will be dubbed the Krista Michelle Simms room, and will contain a large bariatric bed, which according to Kelley Fournier, Unit Supervisor, will be safe for both patients and staff, but will be “big enough that loved ones can crawl in.” That’s just the first step, says Kelley, “The second step is working on softening the unit, making it less clinical and more like a home away from home. This will create an environment that reduces anxiety and overall discomfort.”
The Clitar Foundation has committed to raising money for more room renovations annually. Planning is already underway, and they hope to complete a room sometime in the winter. They would like to renovate about one to two rooms a year, spreading out the construction and improving the space gradually.
Follow the story in the news - Global News Edmonton.
Visit the Clitar Heros foundation Facebook page.