See pictures from the donor-appreciation patio unveiling event, here.
There is a stark difference between a hospital room and access to space offering open air, sunshine and greenery. At RVAP's second-floor Integrated care of the Elderly unit (ICE), patients who have had no easy access to the great outdoors before, now have a beautiful and comfortable new place to call their own. And according to the medical staff here, better known as 2 North, the current changes and future plans will make a big difference in quality of life for everyone on the unit.
"It's what it's going to mean to the patients and families (that is important)," says Amanda Whyte, a Unit Coordinator. "(In the past) very rarely did anyone go out, only in the summer time, and it got too hot and there was really no place for them to sit."
Today new tables, with bright red metal umbrellas to shade people from the sun, are easily accessible, with more benches, more shade and planters attached to the brickwork to hold what will become a plant-covered wall as the season continues. It is the completion of Phase 1 of the project and the start of what will be a transformation of the space.
"I think for patients it will be fantastic, says Dr. Romas Stas, Associate Chief of Staff, Rouge Valley Health System." To be able to go out and get some fresh air in a beautiful environment, for people to rehabilitate and to feel better, when people get run down and depressed – because a lot of them stay here for quite a long time, months sometimes – it makes a big difference."
It's a project that reflects community generosity every step of the way. Not only is the patio materials and work funded entirely by donations, the architectural planning itself was donated. Henry Kortekaas, Principal Landscape Architect at Henry Kortekaas and Associates Inc., is a volunteer at RVAP and the hospital has played a large role in the lives of his family. He explains he is happy to offer assistance to a project that enhances the lives of those who will use it.
"There are a lot of scientific reasons to create landscaped spaces for the ill or injured and their families and hospital staff," Mr. Kortekaas says. "It is a well-known fact that both healthy and sick people can benefit physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually from outdoor recreational activity in a vegetative setting."
Supporting the hospital is a very personal thing for the Kortekaas family, for the way RVAP has played a part in their lives.
"Both Julie, our youngest daughter, and Maureen, our middle daughter were born there," he says. "Maureen, however, suffered an adverse reaction to the DPT vaccine and spent many months at the hospital over her 24 year lifespan. Staff and doctors helped us make it as much of a positive experience as possible."
Now others will have a positive experience thanks to the patio. Dawn Chin, Manager, Nursing, Inpatient Rehab and ICE, sees the potential for the space, with Phase 1 complete and many more improvements to be completed in the next steps.
"It's good therapy for patients, to be honest," she says. "It kind of motivates them and we're planning… to have it extend, so we can actually walk around. So the possibilities are there, that we can have physio out there and things like that."
"So it's kind of expanding the space that we can use for our patients," she adds.
Dr. Stas, a donor to the project himself, says he feels the support for the project has been like that for the MRI campaign, with so many people getting involved. Along with municipal support, clubs and individuals, it has been a combined effort, he explains.
"I think that's the beauty about this place," he says. "This is why everybody is going to feel they have a vested interest in making it succeed."
"And it's nice to have a place for donors to see this is what we've actually done with the money," adds Ms. Whyte.
Special thanks to the generous donors to this project:
Mary (May) Dal Cin
Kenneth McMillan & Family, in tribute to Dr. Romas V. Stas
Mayor Dave Ryan & the City of Pickering Mayor’s Gala
Rotary Club of Ajax, District 7070
Royal Canadian Legion #322, Ajax Branch
Dr. Romas V. Stas
Town of Ajax