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It Starts With Family - The Northern Lights Health Foundation’s Gratitude Campaign

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Bill and Margaret spend their days reminiscing about happier times shared over 25 years of marriage and raising a family, although it’s within the walls of a hospital room.

Living with terminal cancer takes its toll on all of them, but Bill brings a positive thankfulness to every day. With no palliative home care or hospice services in the Wood Buffalo area, patients like Bill have no choice but to spend their end-of-life days on the Medicine Unit of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre. While the care he receives is exceptional, Bill admits he would like his family to be able to stay overnight for extended periods of time in an atmosphere that feels like home. They need a comfortable and private space to spend the time that has become so precious and so finite. The new Palliative Care suites planned for the Health Centre will provide much needed peace, dignity and comfort to patients and families through the most difficult and painful times of their lives.

Currently, the Medicine Unit at the Health Centre houses only two Palliative Care beds for patients and their loved ones. The rooms look and feel clinical and cold, and do not comfortably accommodate intimate family gatherings, crucial conversations relating to care options, or the spiritual ceremonies that are so important to many in our community.

“Death or end-of-life should not be a traumatic or scary event. We have the opportunity to bring peace and calmness to the patient and their family at the end of life stage.” 

Lesley Edwards, Manager of Medicine, Northern Lights Regional Health Centre

Reflecting a family-centred approach, three Palliative Care patient suites will be created and furnished to look and feel like home. Each suite will include an adjoining family living area complete with a private washroom and kitchenette. Large windows will provide an abundance of natural light and access to one of the best views of Fort McMurray. These renovations will ensure that our patients can comfortably share the time they need with their loved ones.

“The redesigned palliative and family suites will offer a home-like setting where we can maintain dignity and comfort during end-of-life care and keep loved ones together.” – Monique Janes, Director of Patient Care, Northern Lights Regional Health Centre

Your support of the Northern Lights Health Foundation’s Gratitude Campaign will allow us to continue providing excellent end-of-life care in a place where patients and their families feel respected and safe. Together, we can give them better memories and moments to cherish.


Photo caption:
Margaret and Bill Smith embrace as Bill receives palliative care services at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.