Thursday April 24, 2014

Donors' dedications deck RIH tree

'Trish made the experience here amazing for myself and my entire family'
Keith Anderson

Craig and Genevieve Kennedy with their baby Ewan give Jan Kirkland, patient co-ordinator for the neonatal intensive care unit at RIH, a special holiday ornament in honour of Ewan's health care team.

Baby Ewan softly protested as his mother gently lifted him out of his car seat.

Born six weeks early by emergency C-section, Ewan Kennedy spent the first three weeks of his life in the Royal Inland Hospital neo-natal intensive-care unit.

He was back in the hospital Monday, but not for care. He was there with his parents, Craig Kennedy and Genevieve Pelletier, to launch the hospital foundation's holiday fundraising campaign.

Donors to the campaign can hang cardboard ornaments on the Christmas tree in the hospital's front lobby.

Pelletier handed a turquoise glass ornament to Jan Kirkland, patient co-ordinator on the neo-natal unit. The ornament was placed on the tree as a symbolic gesture to launch the campaign.

"We're from here. We didn't have to travel, which was helpful," said Pelletier, who developed high blood pressure in her later weeks of pregnancy.

"They alleviated my concerns," at least the ones that could be dealt with, said Kennedy, a first-time father.

"We didn't really know a lot about having a new baby."

Also presenting a symbolic ornament was Bryce Kowalsky, who has counted 27 surgeries in his lifetime, including brain surgery for three aneurisms during which he suffered a debilitating stroke, and a major motorcycle accident in 2012 that hospitalized him for two months.

"It was one of the worst things I went through," Kowalsky said of the accident that left him with a broken clavicle and ribs, severe concussion and crushed femur.

"Bryce was just an amazing patient to care for. Even on bad days, he always had a smile," said Tricia Bell, one of the nurses who looked after Kowalsky.

Just before handing Bell a glass ornament, he called her an asset to the hospital.

"Trish made the experience here amazing for myself and my entire family," he said.

RIH Foundation executive director Heidi Coleman said when donations are made during the campaign, an ornament with a dedication on it will be hung on the tree.

In the new year, the foundation is gearing up for another major campaign: raising $2 million to fully equip the new operating room that Interior Health has committed for RIH.

The new OR will make space for an additional 900 operations annually and is expected to be completed within a year, she said.

The OR was announced in late May as one of two measures being taken to help get patients out of the hospital's hallways.

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