While pregnant with her second child, Catherine Gunn spent nine weeks at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, then remained around the clock when her newborn was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Every day, her husband visited with their 20-month old child. “It didn’t matter what time.They brought a crib in and we had family sleepovers. It was just about maintaining some sense of normalcy and keeping
us together,” she says.
When a loved one faces health problems, being close to
family becomes more important than ever, says Charlene
Guraluick. She saw that firsthand when her father-in-law,
Sam, was in his last days at the Bengough Health Centre
in southern Saskatchewan. “At the end stages of life, when
every little glance or smile is precious, knowing he was
comfortable and had everything he needed was comforting
to us,” she says.
In her job, Christine Maika advocates for policies that
enable families to be with their loved ones in the hospital
as they wish, with no restricted hours. As a granddaughter,
she saw the value of such policies firsthand. For years, Maika was used to having her beloved
grandmother, Anne, around all the time. This was a threegeneration
home in Ottawa, with mom, dad, eight kids,
and a granny suite.
Roger Stoddard is a regular at Saint John Regional Hospital
in New Brunswick. In the past 15 years, the resident of
Quispamsis, N.B. has had a dozen surgeries related to an
old injury, and been hospitalized for other conditions too.
Sometimes, Stoddard’s stays have lasted months. That’s
why he’s thrilled that Horizon Health Network, which runs the
hospital, has adopted a family presence policy.
At Providence Health
Care in B.C., the focus
is on “welcoming and
embracing the family as
partners in care,” says
Candy Garossino, Director,
Professional Practice and
Nursing. “It’s a journey and
a culture change.”A big part of that shift is
Providence’s policy to allow
families to visit their loved
ones at any time, discarding
formal visitor hours for
As a nurse, Julie Sabourin understands the importance
of family visits to a patient’s well-being and experience,
and to the family’s too. She gained a different appreciation
when her father, Robert, was a patient at her very own