Jason Cook, executive director of Langley Memorial Hospital, was excited to announce a $100,000 donation towards the creation of four end-of-life rooms. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

Langley family gives gift to others in end-of-life journey

Martinis donated $100,000 to retrofit four hospital rooms for dying patients and their families.

One long-time Langley family’s personal experiences at Langley Memorial Hospital and their subsequent donation will shape how other local families can say goodbye to loved ones moving forward.

Night or day, week day or weekend – at any moment – a Langley family may be gathered at LMH to support a loved one in their final moments.

Last year alone, 361 individuals passed away at the local hospital. That’s 361 families touched by the environment provided at the hospital during their loved one’s farewell.

Well, that atmosphere is about to receive a major facelift.

Thanks to the Martini family, and a donation of $100,000 announced at Saturday’s Denim & Diamonds gala, four unique end-of-life rooms are being established inside LMH.

Due to the hospital’s current state, many families on the end-of-life journey must endure these heart-wrenching and intimate experiences in rooms shared with up to three other patients and their families.

Unlike many existing rooms in the wards, these new end-of-life rooms will be changed up to provide quiet, private space for the family to come together, compose their thoughts, and make important medical decisions. This is an integral part of the health care journey, said Jason Cook, executive director for LMH.

So, amid the required clinical space that is found in any community hospital, when people reach the doorway to one of these new end-of-life rooms, Cook wants things to instantly change.

People need to feel like they’re walking into “more of a home,” he said, noting renovations are expected to start within the next few months.

“We’re trying to move away from the sterile look of a [hospital] room,” he said, noting the space will be painted with warm colours, and softer lighting will be added.

But it doesn’t end there, Cook elaborated. There will be accent decor items brought in, home-like bedding will replace the clinical bed sheets, and even a speaker allowing favourite playlists to be used to help evoke happy memories

Shelves or side tables will be added to encourage family members to personalize the space with favourite pictures and mementos.

And a sofa sleeper bed or chair will be incorporated to encourage guests to stay for as long as needed.

The hospital’s four convalescent units are not currently set up to provide an atmosphere of comfort and compassion that families need when a loved one is at the end-of-life, Cook said.

“We can do better than that,” he explained. “It’s about making things comfortable.”

Having created a hospice space at Mission Memorial Hospital in past, Cook knows what it takes to help make patients and their families a little more comfortable during such a difficult time, and he is excited to see that reality being extended to the hospital wards in Langley.

Four of the single, private rooms located on the various units will be retrofitted.

While they will not serve exclusively as end-of-life rooms, Cook is optimistic one will always be available – when needed.

It will not change the clinical services necessary in the final days, but he said “our end-of-life rooms are really about creating a better environment, a home-like environment for those in their last few days of life… so we can keep the family and patients together when they’re most vulnerable.”

And all of this, he said, is thanks to the “generous donation” of Ron and Maria Martini.

“Through their health care experiences and knowing of our need, they approached us to say ‘we’d like to make a donation and focus on this, we think we can help and make end of life better for other patients’,” Cook recounted. “And we welcome that.”

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