Family never left Roy Hanson’s side during his final days. The cancer that swept his body left him too weak to stand, but the 86-year-old found comfort in a specialized bed that easily accommodated his six-foot-two frame.
“We stayed around the clock with him, taking turns,” recalls his widow, Dianne Hanson. “He was so happy that he could be in that bed because he was tall. He was so aware of the bed. He said, ‘This is 100 per cent better than the hospital bed.’ He could never stretch out in a smaller bed.”
When Roy died, just nine days after entering Carmel Hospice in St. Joseph’s Home, Dianne wanted to thank the Medicine Hat team for the compassionate care her husband received. She remembered a conversation with the hospice’s medical director, Dr. Anthony Jeraj, who shared that the special bed in Roy’s room had been donated a year earlier by doctors at the hospice.
“I wanted others to be comfortable like Roy was,” says Dianne.
Dianne decided to buy a bed for the hospice, knowing others would benefit. When Dianne told her son, Rick, and daughter, Linda Weber, about her donation plan, they said they would donate a second bed in memory of their father and as gratitude for the care provided by the hospice team.
“People probably don’t think they can donate things like a bed to a hospital, but they can,” says Dianne.
Anthony is grateful that the hospice now has three specialized beds, which cost about $20,000 each. He organized the first bed donation after he saw a patient was in discomfort. Many hospice patients need a special mattress so they can be comfortable. Jeraj led the purchase of a special computerized bed that allows patients of all shapes and sizes to shift positions more easily. The larger design of the bed also makes it easier to safely move and treat patients, and the advanced technology makes it easier to call for assistance, controls temperature and even asks a patient to wait for assistance before trying to get out of bed.
“Not many places have this bed. They’re very comfortable. It’s one of the best ones for patients,” says Anthony. “I was over the moon that the first bed precipitated two more beds. It was amazing.”
Site administrator Ryan Wiest describes them as “Cadillac beds” for patients. “They’re all good beds, no matter what, but this bed is something else. Our goal is to provide pain-free comfort at end of life, and this is another way to provide comfort.”
Tracy Sopkow, CEO of Covenant Foundation, says specific gifts, such as the specialized beds by the Hanson family and the physicians, are often meaningful to the donors.
“Donors who have experienced first-hand the impact of Covenant’s care tell us it brings them peace of mind and even a greater sense of purpose to help ensure care for others in their community.”
The Hanson family’s gift will make a difference to patients at the hospice, says Tracy.
“Thanks to the generosity of Dianne and the Hanson family, more patients at Carmel Hospice will benefit from greater comfort and dignity in care that improves their quality of life.”
Anthony agrees. “That’s the priority in palliative care, to make sure people are treated well and feel good and comfortable.”
Roy died November 2, 2020 and while Dianne is not yet ready to see the beds in the hospice, she finds comfort in knowing that her family’s gift is helping others. Dianne believes the gift would have the approval of Roy, a partner in Cee Gee Earthmoving until he retired at age 74 when he sold his share to his son and son-in-law, Gene, who have since retired. Diane says Roy was a big believer in helping community.
“He was always happy to support community. He would have been happy about the beds,” she says.
Dianne and Roy Hanson
Written by: Shelly Decker
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