Horizon Star - June 2019

#ResearchAtHorizon: Bikes N’ Trikes program gives N.B. youth with neuro disorders freedom to play

Comfort in times of joy and sadness: Miramichi Hospital Auxiliary celebrated for 100 years of care

Cassie Dolliver has seen how auxiliaries can provide comfort in even the most sterile environments. As a mother, she benefitted from the comforts they provided when her son was born; as the Palliative Coordinator at Horizon’s Miramichi Regional Hospital, she’s seen how the auxiliaries’ gifts bring comfort in times of joy and sadness. “You share your time and skills to those under the care of the hospital and add a personal touch to an often-sterile environment,” Cassie said at the 100th anniversary celebrations of Horizon’s Miramichi Regional Hospital Auxiliary in early April, which was marked with a luncheon and tea at St. Andrew’s United Church in Miramichi. “Your gifts are unprejudiced and abundant. You do this because you care, and these noble acts request no recognition,” she said. “What a powerful sentiment you are giving to a person preparing to take their last breath, or to a tiny soul that’s just taken its first.” Dawn Savoy, president of the auxiliary, said the group is an amalgamation of three former volunteer groups: Hospital Aid (formed in 1919), Hospital Club (formed in 1950) and the volunteer department (formed in 1976). They joined forces in 1986 to become the Miramichi Regional Hospital Auxiliary. “During Hospital Aid’s first year, they donated a grand sum of $246 to the hospital,” she said. “Now my research tells me that’s over $3,000 in today’s money, so that’s pretty significant.” During the luncheon, nine women were presented with Honourary Life Memberships to the auxiliary: Phyllis Hamilton, Winnie Matchett, Debbie Whitney, Carolyn Taylor, Wendy Mathews, Betty Doyle, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Mildred Savoy and Carol Anne Smythe. Rachel Butler, Shirley Donovan, Salome Legge, Betty O’Shea, Jeannie Bell, and Aileen Whitney were also honoured, but were not present. Karen McGrath, Horizon’s president and CEO, wondered what health care and auxiliaries would have looked like 100 years ago. “The wives of the doctors were the first auxilians in Canada; they got together to

For many New Brunswick youth, the arrival of spring means going outside to play – and riding a bike is one of the most popular outdoor activities. However, commercially available bikes and trikes may not meet the unique needs of children and youth with neurological diagnoses, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or spina bifida. A Horizon program unlike any other in Canada aims to change that, making it possible for these kids to spend time outside being active with their friends and families. Bikes N’ Trikes began at Horizon’s Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in 2012 and continues with the support of the Stan Cassidy Foundation. The innovative program adapts bikes for its young patients free of charge. Because these bikes are very expensive to adapt, and because families can keep them, the program removes a significant financial barrier. Tracy Ferguson, a physiotherapist with the Pediatric Neuromotor Team at the Stan Cassidy Centre for the past 10 years oversees the program. After running the program for several years, she was curious to better understand how the program may be helping to improve her patients’ and their families’ physical

Tracy successfully applied to Horizon’s Research Services’ SOAR team, who provided her with dedicated research support. Then, to access funding to support interviewing past program participants and their families, Tracy and SOAR team manager, Dr. Natasha Hanson made a pitch at the Patients’ Den. Held on May 10, 2018, the Patients’ Den was organized by the University of New Brunswick’s Primary and Integrated Healthcare Innovations Network, and had a panel of eight patient advisors judge teams’ pitches. With their strong presentation, Tracy and Natasha were one of three successful teams to receive $5,000 in funding. Almost a year later, preliminary interview data suggests having access to adapted bikes and trikes has had a positive impact on the quality of life of children with disabilities, as well as a means of increased socialization and leisure. Tracy is now looking ahead to September, where she will share this unique program’s outcomes at the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine’s 73rd annual meeting in California. The Research Team included: • Tracy Ferguson, Pediatric Physiotherapist, Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation • Dr. Natasha Hanson, Team Manager, SOAR Team, Research Services • Rankyn Campbell, Research Assistant, Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation The Bikes N’ Trikes Program would not be possible without the support of generous donations to the Stan Cassidy Foundation. This research is also made possible by Horizon’s Support Opportunities and Assistance for Research (SOAR) Program, and the Patients’ Den research funding competition. Tracy Ferguson, physiotherapist at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, receives her award at the Patients’ Den from one of the patient advisor panellists, Kevin Standing.

From left are Karen McGrath, president and CEO of Horizon Health Network, with the Honourary Life Members of Horizon’s Miramichi Regional Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, Phyllis Hamilton, Winnie Matchett, DebbieWhitney, Carolyn Taylor, Wendy Matthews, Betty Doyle, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Mildred Savoy, and Carol Anne Smythe. Not pictured are: Rachel Butler, Shirley Donovan, Salome Legge, Betty O’Shea, Jeannie Bell, and AileenWhitney.

and mental health and social relationships ultimately leading to better quality of life. She soon learned few others have studied programs like Bikes N’ Trikes, creating a unique chance for her to collect evidence and further shape the care physiotherapists provide. To build her project, Investigating the impact of adapted bikes or trikes on the quality of life of children and youth with neuromotor disabilities, Tracy Ferguson, physiotherapist at Horizon’s Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, and Dr. Natasha Hanson, manager for the SOAR Team in Research Services, make their successful case to the Patients’ Den on May 10, 2018.


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Cassie said the tiny hat helped keep him warm and was the first thing he ever wore. She said it serves as a reminder of his size and is precious to her. “This tiny hat came from a stranger and while I was pregnant, dreaming of holding my long-awaited baby, someone out there, in our community, was sitting down and knitting or crocheting tiny little hats for babies they would never meet,” she said. Working in palliative, Cassie shared another important role the Auxiliary has for patients. With coordination from the Auxiliary, the Women’s Institute of Rogersville donated beautiful handmade quilts to palliative patients. The idea was for patients to be given the quilts, and if they were discharged home, they could keep it. If they died, the family was welcome to take them. One recipient had been a quilter herself; when Cassie showed her the quilts, she inspected each of them and spoke about the patterns and stitching used. “It took her away from being a patient and gave us a glimpse into the part of herself that quilted,” Cassie said. “She spoke about her friends that she would quilt with and that she originally learned the skill from her grandmother.” When Cassie told her that one of the quilts was for her, she was speechless. “She knew the amount of work that was placed into making them,” Cassie said. “When she died, her best friend took the blanket home and told me that when her heart is sad and lonely, she will curl up in that quilt and remember her.”

support the hospital,” she said. “They did things like wrap bandages, clean laundry and bring comforts to people who, in a lot of cases, had just returned from World War One.” Hospitals rely heavily on auxiliaries, Karen said, because they provide a little extra something to hospitals. “Everybody who is considered essential to the operation of our facilities has to be there,” she said. “They’re paid to be there. Auxiliary volunteers choose to be there, you choose to be there to make life different for the patients and families you serve.”

That’s the same level of care Cassie experienced.

“When my baby was born and placed in my arms for the first time, his little body had nothing on but this tiny hat,” Cassie said, while holding up small, light blue handmade hat. “This tiny hat that I will cherish and keep forever.”

*A version of this article appeared on the Stan Cassidy Foundation’s blog.

Owen Aucoin, a patient at the Stan Cassidy Centre, gives a thumb’s up to one of the custom-made bikes.

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