The Red Deer Ronald McDonald House is rolling out the charity’s most extensive hospital comfort cart program in Alberta on Wednesday.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities comfort cart, packed with free snacks and drinks, toiletries, blankets, toys and books for children, will circulate between the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the postpartum, pediatric and the child and youth addiction and mental health units at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
A similar comfort cart at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary only serves the NICU.
“This is a really important milestone,” said Jennifer Clermont, CEO with Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta, about the Red Deer hospital comfort cart which is expected to impact over 2,000 patients and their families and bedside caregivers in 2023.
“The program is designed to decrease the stress and alleviate the burden that families, caregivers and patients are dealing with so that families can focus on each other and their health,” she said when the cart was unveiled at the Red Deer Ronald McDonald House on Tuesday.
Clermont said Ronald McDonald House volunteers who staff the cart will also provide information to local families about day programs available to them at Ronald McDonald House which is located near the Red Deer hospital.
Families were consulted about the kind of items to stock on the cart which will initially visit the units during a three-hour weekly shift. Depending on feedback and demand, access to the cart could increase to two or three times a week.
Sandi Sebastian, interim senior operating officer for the Red Deer hospital and director of women’s and children’s health services, said it can be incredibly stressful for families with a child in the hospital and small comforts can make a positive difference.
“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,” Sebastian said.
Funding support to keep the Red Deer 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.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta operates houses in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Medicine Hat to provide a home-away-from-home to over 1,200 families each year who must travel for their child’s vital medical treatment.
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