Our Stories

New donor-funded washroom in Palliative Care Unit adds comfort for visiting family and friends

Toronto, April 29, 2016

By Rebecca Goss

Slawomir Zulawnik tidies toiletries
Slawomir Zulawnik, an RN on the PCU, tidies toiletries in the unit's new washroom. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

The Palliative Care Unit feels a bit more like home for patients’ loved ones with the opening of a new visitors’ washroom, thanks to a donation by the family of a former patient, Melvin Gilbert.

“He was a generous and philanthropic person,” said Heather Stefani, Gilbert’s daughter. “We wanted to give back specifically to the PCU and wanted to find a way to help the families. It’s what my dad would have wanted.”

Melvin Gilbert died in 2013 after 10 days in the PCU.

The PCU strives to manage patients’ symptoms, such as pain, nausea or difficulty breathing, and to ensure comfort when cure is no longer possible.

The unit is designed for the comfort of patients and their families and friends. It has a kitchen, dining and lounge area, laundry facilities and small private meeting rooms.

Visitors now can also make use of a large, renovated washroom, providing more comfort, tranquility and space.

“Having a family member in the PCU is intense and sad and scary,” said Stefani. “Hopefully it brings some peace to those visiting their loved ones.”

“It’s important to make both the patients and their loved ones as comfortable as possible.” – Penny McCrimmon, registered nurse in the Palliative Care Unit

The new washroom has soft yellow walls and shiny new fixtures. It’s furnished with wooden cabinets, a long counter and mirror, a new toilet and sink, all chosen by Gilbert’s family. Baskets on the counter hold a large stock of fresh linens, face washes, lotions, toothbrushes and toothpaste, arranged with care next to potted orchids.

“Having a nice, fully stocked washroom makes the unit feel more like home,” said Penny McCrimmon, an RN in the PCU. “It’s important to make both the patients and their loved ones as comfortable as possible.”

Flexible visiting hours in the unit mean some visitors stay with their loved ones for days or weeks at a time. The new washroom gives visitors more space to refresh compared to the former visitors’ washroom, which was cramped, inaccessible and lacked the counter space for toiletries.

“The new washroom is a much-needed improvement, said McCrimmon. “A little bit of comfort means a lot in challenging times.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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