Town of St. Marys donation helps completely revamp hospital tub room

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Pictured, from left, are St. Marys personal support worker Katie McNaughton, HPHA President and CEO Andrew Williams, hospital foundation chair John McIntosh, fundraising coordinator Krista Linklater (kneeling), Town councillors Jim Craigmile, Don Van Galen, Mayor Al Strathdee, Coun. Carey Pope, hospital staff members Tracey Thomson, Melisa Yale, Jane Rundle, Dr. Tamara Foster, foundation board member Andrea Macko-Hodges, and foundation fundraising chair Pat Craigmile.

By Dan Rankin

A month ago, the “tub room” for bathing patients at St. Marys Memorial Hospital was out of use, just as it had been for about the past five years. With no tub for bathing patients dealing with mobility issues, personal support workers at St. Marys Memorial, such as Katie McNaughton, were faced with the options of either wheeling patients into position to take a seated shower, or else giving them “bed baths.” Not very relaxing, and not ideal.

Earlier this week on Tuesday morning, Mayor Al Strathdee and several Town councillors attended a ribbon-cutting for the hospital’s completely re-vamped tub room, made possible because of the Town’s $300,000 donation to the Hospital Foundation’s Someone I Know capital campaign. The campaign has now surpassed $3.1 million of its $5 million goal.

Foundation fundraising coordinator Krista Linklater said roughly $75,000 of the town’s donation had gone towards the tub room project, including the purchase of a new state-of-the-art ArjoHuntleigh “Rhapsody” tub, a new chair lift with a weight scale, a folding, motorized stretcher, the installation of a new floor in the room and the widening of a doorway into an adjacent bathroom to enhance accessibility.

The chairlift allows patients to be lowered into the tub in a sitting position, Linklater said. “They also utilize it to weigh people who aren’t very stable on their feet,” she told the assembled group, that included town councillors Don Van Galen, Carey Pope and Jim Craigmile, as well as Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance President and CEO Andrew Williams. “This was a huge request from staff. They really needed this.”

On the new stretcher, patients can be carried from their beds and immersed while still on the stretcher, she said.

The new tub has an expected lifespan of about 30 years and an “autofill” feature useful to hospital staff, she said.

McNaughton, who typically bathes five or six patients per day in a 12-hour shift, has been using the new machinery for the past two weeks. She said, with the new tub, patients “get to sit and soak, and they just feel a lot cleaner.”

St. Marys physician Dr. Tamara Foster said a patient had already told her that day that she was excited for her bath. “It seems like it’s quite a luxury for them. I have heard only good things about it,” she said.

“For anxious or struggling patients, they can bring them here and give them a nice bubbly bath and that calms them down,” said Linklater.

Hospital foundation chair John McIntosh said the Town of St. Marys’ donation set a good example for surrounding organizations and municipalities, with Perth South since committing to make a $75,000 donation and West Perth also agreeing to contribute to the campaign.

“We’re certainly happy to know they will be doing that,” he said. “That part of it is going well and it’s because you folks set the bar.”

By providing modern, updated facilities for employees at the hospital, it gives them better working conditions, which in turn spreads a positive word about the hospital in the community, McIntosh said. “That helps us with the campaign, and that’s what this whole thing is about,” he said. “Our hospital will be here if we support it and we do this sort of thing.”

Williams agreed. “The most important investments to make are the ones that affect patients everyday and support our staff everyday,” he said.

“This is our hospital and it’s important as a community that we continue to support it and show that this is ours,” Mayor Strathdee said.