Jeff Gaye

“It takes a village,” said Cathy Garon, site manager of Cold Lake Health Care Centre.
She was referring to the community-wide effort that resulted in the opening of two newly-renovated palliative care rooms at the Cold Lake hospital on Monday. 
The rooms, located on the third floor, have been updated with home-like furnishings, including a sofa, comfortable chairs and custom-built desks. Each room also has a “smart” TV, allowing patients and families to connect with loved ones near and far via video chat.
Cold Lake Palliative Care Society and Hearts for Healthcare each raised and donated $15,000 towards the project. Local businesses contributed furniture and appointments to give the rooms a homey atmosphere, and Alberta Health Services staff approved the project and coordinated the renovation work.
“When we think about dying most of us want four things: a quick, painless passing with our dignity intact and our family by our side,” Garon said. “Palliative care is about helping people to live out the rest of their days with as much physical, emotional, and spiritual support as we can provide.”
Natasha Jovanovic of Cold Lake Palliative Care Society says the team approach to the renovation project has been a positive experience. 
“We’ve been doing this joint venture with Hearts for Healthcare for about three years now,” she said. “It’s been a great experience for us and we hope to do more in the community with them.” 
Jovanovic said the opening of the upgraded rooms is a big step forward for palliative care in the Cold Lake area. “These rooms are 40 years old, and renovations on them have never been done before. So updating them was a big bonus, a breath of fresh air for most people.”
While Monday was a day for celebration, Jovanovic said there is still much more to be done. The society is working on renovating a respite care room in the hospital’s Long Term Care section, and she said there is always a need for more palliative care capacity in the community.
“That’s why we’re trying to expand into the community. It’s very important that people in our community be able to die in their community, if that’s what their wishes are,” she said. “So that’s where we are trying to help support them in making that decision, whether they want to come into hospital or if they want to stay in their homes.”
Garon said the rooms will provide care and comfort not just to the dying patient, but to their families and loved ones as well.
“When someone is passing away we often find there to be more than one patient in the room because the grieving process is very stressful,” she said, “Sometimes those who take their turns sitting at the bedside for hours or days also need our support, empathy, and TLC.”