A trip to the Emergency Department can be a stressful situation for many people. Some patients wanting to see a doctor may need to wait while patients with more acute needs are seen, and it could be stressful for them. We’ve all been there, either for ourselves or with family members.
Volunteers at the Regina General Hospital wanted to do something to ease the stress and anxiety surrounding an Emergency Department visit.
In May 2018, the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s Regina Volunteer Services Department introduced a courtesy cart into the Regina General Hospital Emergency Department waiting room. During their shifts, dedicated volunteers walk the cart around the Emergency Department waiting room and hand out free-of-charge items such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles, decks of cards, colouring pages for children, children’s books, stickers, stamps and stuffed animals.
Volunteer Kaitlyn Fisher with the Emergency Department Courtesy Cart.
During its first three months of operation, the Emergency Department Courtesy Cart received a lot of positive feedback from patients, family members and staff.
“The cart was really successful. It made conversations with patients waiting so much easier. Patients and family members seemed very impressed by the service,” volunteer Avner S. said.
Not only can the cart help open conversations, it can take the pressure off patients. Kaitlyn Fisher, a long-time volunteer, recalled a time when she entertained two young children as their mother, who was in labour, was admitted. The woman was so grateful to Kaitlyn for taking the children aside to colour and read a story. She knew her children were being cared for and was able to focus on herself and her labour before being admitted to the Labour and Birth Department.
Part of Kaitlyn’s volunteer duties in the Emergency Room is to ensure that patients who are waiting don’t feel alone. If she sees someone looking nervous or in need of someone to talk to, offering them something to pass the time, or sitting with them often really helps. She also sees herself as an extra set of eyes in the waiting room. If the condition of a patient seems to be deteriorating, she notifies one of the nurses to assist them. During busy periods, an extra set of eyes is truly appreciated.
“As a health care staff member, I often hear negative comments in regards to the RGH Emergency Department wait times. Our goal with the courtesy cart is to help make those wait times a little more bearable by providing small items to help pass the time or put a smile on a child’s face during some difficult circumstances,” said Jeff Cerato, SHA Regina Volunteer Coordinator.
Funding for the courtesy cart is provided by the Regina General Hospital Auxiliary. The Auxiliary is volunteer-run and creates revenue through sales at the RGH Gift Shop as well as through outside donations. Funds raised support various areas of the hospital through capital equipment purchases as well as smaller, but equally as important endeavors such as the courtesy cart.