A specially stocked cart and a group of volunteers are helping roll out a new patient comfort initiative for families with children in care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC).

Circulating between Pediatrics, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), postpartum and the child and youth Addiction and Mental Health units, the Comfort Cart offers up an assortment of little conveniences intended to help make the time in hospital a little easier for families.

“It can be incredibly stressful for families to have a child hospitalized. This cart is a way we can offer them a bit more comfort while they’re here with their child,” says Sandi Sebastian, Interim Senior Operating Officer for RDRHC and Director of Women’s and Children’s Health Services. “Be it a snack, a toothbrush or a crossword puzzle, sometimes the small things of home can have a big impact and make a positive difference.”

In addition to bottled water and juices, granola bars and other snacks, the Comfort Cart provides tissues, reading material, activity books and hygiene items like toothbrushes. Volunteers from Ronald McDonald House circulate with the cart to the various units, offering items to families.

The cart is made possible by support from Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta.

“The Comfort Cart brings internationally recognized Ronald McDonald House hospitality to a child’s bedside at the hospital,” says Jason Evanson, CEO of RMHC Alberta. “Families often spend hours at the hospital. The program enables us to support more families outside of the House, and it plays an important role in enhancing family-centered care.”

Those little comforts also open up conversation, allowing the volunteers to provide personalized visiting and companionship.

“Whether we provide a fresh cup of coffee, a box of Lego, a book, board game or simply conversation with a volunteer, the Comfort Cart delivers a figurative hug to families who need a lift while dealing with pediatric medical treatment day in and day out,” adds Evanson.

Funding support to keep the cart supplied is provided by FortisAlberta’s Community Investment programs. For 15 years FortisAlberta’ has funded projects at both the Red Deer and Calgary Ronald McDonald House locations, committing to a lifetime gift of over $124,000.
“We’re so grateful for the support from Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta for bringing the Comfort Cart to the hospital,” says Sebastian. “From the funding to ensure they’re supplied, to volunteers signing on to make the rounds to visit families, that kind of generous commitment has a significant impact on health delivery in so many ways.”

**with information provided by AHS