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OCVI students painting a pole in the DRCC

OCVI students painting a pole in the DRCC

OCVI students painting a pole in the DRCC

OCVI students painting a pole in the DRCC

Donor Story

Bringing some colour to the DRCC

"A simple way to give back to a very important facility in our community"

The holidays are here and the talented students of O’Neill Collegiate have spent months working on a special gift for patients visiting Lakeridge Health’s R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre (DRCC).

The waiting areas of the DRCC are now a little brighter and more colourful with the addition of tree murals on the poles throughout the centre. And, it’s all thanks to donor support!

Lakeridge Health Foundation works with the community to raise funds for a number of different areas and resources in the Hospital – like equipment or capital renovations. But a recent, unique opportunity allowed the Foundation to use a special restricted fund earmarked for projects just like this.

Thanks to the Beryl Soldin Endowment Fund, an investment set up with the Foundation to help enhance comfort and experience in the DRCC, a partnership between Lakeridge Health and O'Neill Collegiate came to life.

Patti Marchand, Clinical Director of the DRCC, explained how the request for funding the artwork came about.

“I have a longstanding, highly valued partnership with the Foundation,” she said. “Through this partnership and ongoing discussions, the Foundation team shared of potential opportunities that would improve patient experiences during appointments in the cancer centre.”

“As a result, I immediately thought of sharing this project with colleagues at the Foundation as it presented as a perfect alignment to the focus shared by some of the donors.”

The seed was planted during a DRCC Patient and Family Advisory Council meeting a few years ago, explains Debbie Devitt, Patient Experience Lead in the DRCC.

“One of the advisors talked about what they had seen in a long term care home here in Durham Region,” she said. “There was a picture of a large tree and the title was ‘Leaf Feedback’.”

“So playing on that word leaf, the idea blossomed into this suggestion of creating trees in the DRCC waiting room with bird houses to be utilized as the feedback boxes.”

With the notion planted, the next step was to figure out who was going to paint the trees and when.

“A few years ago while construction was happening in the DRCC, we had the opportunity to partner with O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institue (OCVI) to display student art work on the hoarding,” explained Debbie. “So, I reached out to the same teacher, who teaches the senior classes of art at OCVI.”

Students got started this past fall and completed the project in early December.

“When Debbie emailed me about this, I knew I wanted to be involved,” said Jennifer Fabris, Visual Arts Teacher, OCVI.

Jennifer has a personal connection to the DRCC and the cancer care services provided at the Hospital.
“We are all touched by cancer,” she expressed. “Everyone knows someone or has lost someone to cancer and it felt like a simple way to give back to a very important facility in our community.”

“When my Mom was sick, all of her treatments were at Lakeridge Health and she spoke highly of everyone there, so this project is also very personal for me.”

The project also hit home with some of Jennifer’s students.

“I had one student find me after school to let me know that her Mom had been there for testing just after we finished,” she said. “When she got home she said, ‘Are those your trees? They are beautiful!’ - that was very heartwarming.”

Since the completion of the tree paintings, the added colour of the new artwork in waiting areas have also garnered a lot of positive feedback from patients.

Patricia, a DRCC patient, had the opportunity to watch the progress as she came for her daily radiation treatments. She shared these comments: “They are gorgeous. The trees are really something. I love all the colour the students have added to what were once blank poles.”

If you would like to contribute to projects like this and help enhance the patient care environment at our Hospitals, call or email the Foundation office at 905-433-4339 or and mention this story.