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Story by Sherri Gallant 

(originally printed in South Zone News February 2013)

There’s a Proverb that says a bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses. If that’s the case, the Friends of Chinook Regional Hospital society must be a sweet-smelling bunch of folks.

It’s Friends who are responsible for the wheelchairs used by patients to get to a waiting car outside to go home, when they’re discharged. And it’s Friends, too, who bought the wheels that patients use to ease their movements inside the facility while they are recovering from surgery or illness.

A fleet of 42 new wheelchairs and accessories were recently donated by the Friends society; a non-profit group powered by staff and volunteers who work in the Gift Shop and manage the TV and phone rental program on site.
The time they give provides much for many, since profits from Gift Shop sales and other endeavours of the Friends (including TV and phone rentals at the hospital) are donated to CRH to support patient-care programs and services. The latest acquisition of wheelchairs is really just the tip of the iceberg.

“Friends really are unsung heroes to us,” says Ryan Thomson, site manager at CRH.

“Wheelchairs are a constant critical piece of equipment in the hospital. We require different sizes – for bariatric patients and pediatric patients, for example – and we’re always in need of special accessories for them, like oxygen tank holders and leg extensions.

“That’s where Friends come in and we appreciate what they do for us so much.”

Tony Jung, executive director of Friends, says the society is committed to enriching patient care, providing services to the hospital community and fostering volunteerism.

“Ryan will approach us with a critical need and we take it to our allocations committee,” says Jung. “If it meets our criteria, it’s approved, and it usually is.”

The new wheelchairs are valued at about $10,000.

To Friends in action, visit the Gift Shop in the hospital atrium. It’s open seven days a week and has a full range of convenience items including fresh flowers, confectionery items, magazines, gifts and lottery tickets.