Family CARE Grants Fund Unique and Helpful Items at Hospital

For the 9th 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 $62,881.57 was provided to fund 44 Family CARE (Care Advancements Recommended by Employees) Grants. Since its inception in 2009, 304 grants have been funded.

Dr, Gordon Porter, Chief of Staff, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre stressed, “We have the most outstanding employees here at the Hospital. They really go above and beyond for our patients and take the time to apply for these grants so that patient care can be improved.”

“Along with our staff, we must really thank donors to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and the Volunteer Association to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre,” said Peter Myllymaa, Executive Vice President, Corporate Services & Operations, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. “Our budget pressures are immense and, without this funding, we wouldn’t be able to provide these pieces of equipment that really do enhance the care patients receive at our Hospital.”

Barry Streib, Secretary and Chair, Governance for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, along with Cathy Britt, Vice President, Volunteer Association to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre were excited to announce the grants once again this year. They’ve both seen a growth in the program and know the impact it’s had. Said Streib, “It’s very gratifying being part of the committee that awards these grants, because we get to witness the remarkable creativity and innovation of staff at the Hospital. They truly think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to asking for equipment they believe would enhance the patient experience.” Added Britt, “One of my favourite times of the year is right now, because it’s like Christmas has come again to the Hospital with the announcement of all these grants. I really respect the staff who put forth a lot of effort in applying as I know they do this on top of their everyday roles. But if you’ve ever spent any time with patients in our Hospital, you see what a difference this equipment makes. I even think about the number of chairs we’ve funded; something so simple as having a place to rest can mean the world of difference.

In total 44 Family CARE grants, ranging from $82 to $4,000 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 2018, thanks to the 2017 grants, include:

  • An ophthalmoscope, protoscope and sinoscope to allow a greater number of patients to be seen in our Ambulatory Care Department
  • A new wheelchair, along with lift slings and new bedside chairs for the Critical Care Unit
  • 10 new magnetic dry erase boards for better communication and a specialized light with lamp stand to examine noses, throats and mouths for our Emergency Department.
  • Several walkers and raised cushions in patient unit 3A to assist patients recovering from orthopaedic surgery
  • Bumper pads, chairs and a vascular doppler for our Post Anesthesia Care Unit – important as we continue to develop our vascular surgery program
  • A new sleeper chair, high back chairs and a baby scale for our Maternal Newborn Unit
  • A couch for the NICU Waiting Room and playmats for siblings visiting the NICU

Parents of young children will also be comforted to know about several items that will make their stay a little easier. In our Paediatric Department, the Child Life Specialist will make use of a new cabinet filled with equipment to help regulate emotions and teach young patients. One example is a bubble tube that can be used as a distraction when a procedure is performed. e.g. starting an IV. Additionally, funding has been provided for a puppet hospital so children can be better informed prior to invasive procedures and tests. Children will have the chance to participate in medical play to further understand what will happen and to help them cope.

In addition to these grants there were several other unique items funded. In particular one theme that stood out to the grants committee was the number of applications for items related to seniors care.

Susan Veltri, a Registered Nurse and Geriatric Care Coordinator, received funding for several items including a White Noise Machine, Puzzles/Toys for adults and a Sitter Select Alarm. “It is so wonderful to know that our staff is engaged with providing Senior Friendly Care,” she said. “The Sitter Select Alarm is helpful for staff that provides care to high-fall risk patients. It allows our care team to comfortably sit a patient, and then attach an alarm to their shoulders. Should the patient attempt to get up, the alarm will sound and staff can attend to them right away to prevent a fall. Additionally, we find that if we can provide a more restful environment, patients are less agitated. The White Noise Machine will help patients block out surrounding Hospital noise and rest peacefully. The toys and puzzles will also provide a creative environment for busy hands. We’re very grateful for this funding that will enhance care for our senior patient population.”

Also assisting with care for multiple patients, including seniors, are a Standing Pivot Disc and Specialized Walker for neurological patients. Mike Paularinne, an Advanced Practice Physiotherapist explained, “The Standing Pivot Disc allows patients to transfer safely to chairs and wheelchairs when they are unable to stand and/or walk on their own. The Hydraulic Platform Walker helps patients stand and walk in a way that gives them the security, independence and confidence while at the same time the proper support required as they begin the rehabilitation journey. Both adaptive devices will help reduce the risks associated with being bed ridden including skin breakdown, blood clots, weakness and muscle atrophy, falls, as well as minimizing the possibility of injury to patient and staff.”

A full list of all 2017 grants can be found online at