For 25 years, Moose Cottage has been a cosy, home-like retreat for patients, visitors and staff at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Patient Bev Hughes and his wife Faye regularly drop by the cottage after singalongs in the chapel.
“We’ve been here since July, so that’s a long time for Bev to be in hospital and it’s such a break from the ward. It feels like we’re sort of normal people again,” Faye said.
“We always come over here for tea or coffee and a cookie. It’s nice to visit here with people in the cottage.”
In addition to being a former Red Deer city councillor, Bev sat on the hospital board in 1992, when the Loyal Order of the Moose No. 1639 and the Women of the Moose Red Deer Chapter approached the board about developing a legacy project at the hospital.
Bev, who had a stroke and also has Parkinson’s disease, which makes it difficult to communicate, said he remembered when the Moose first suggested the cottage, which is located on the third floor, across the hall from the chapel.
Now it’s a place where he can meet up with family members outside his hospital room.
“It’s always gratifying to introduce a new person to the facility. It’s doubly nice that’s it’s right next door to the chapel. It makes it quite nice,” Bev said.
Moose Cottage is open seven days a week, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., and is run by volunteers who serve coffee, tea and baking. Monetary donations from visitors keep the beverages and snacks available.
With an electric fireplace, country-themed decor and flooring that resembles worn, wooden planks, the room has a cottage atmosphere. Round dining tables with sturdy wooden chairs can seat about 25 people. Furniture can be adjusted to make room for wheelchairs or walkers.
“So many people come in here and say it’s just like grandma’s kitchen. They just love it,” said volunteer Lorraine Corsiatto.
She said volunteers get to know the patients and often sit down for a chat.
“I just think it’s a good support system for them,” Corsiatto said.
An average of 30 to 35 people a day stop by the cottage, which is also available for events such as patients’ birthday parties.
It is also used for recreational therapy, bereavement support groups and pastoral care.
“It’s just a room that’s inviting enough that it can be diverse to offer all those things to patients,” said Brenda Farwell, co-ordinator of volunteer resources with Alberta Health Services.
She likes to say compassion comes with a cup of coffee at the cottage.
“I know for many of our patients and families, especially those who are with us for a long time, it is truly a go-to place every afternoon.”