It’s 10 am and Dr. George Isac is hard at work.
The medical director of the VGH Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is only three hours into his shift working as a registered nurse — that’s right, an RN — and the pace has been steady.
“I’m having to watch the clock closely,” he says grinning sheepishly. “It’s been busy, even with stable patients, and it’s easy to get behind in your tasks. It’s been a humbling experience.”
Fortunately for Dr. Isac, Lynette Brandsma, ICU RN, is mentoring him. “He’s doing very well, and it’s been a lot of fun,” she says. “I like sharing our expertise, and it’s all for a good cause.”
That’s because Dr. Isac isn’t trialing a new career path. His shift as an ICU RN is the result of a recent fundraiser, which garnered $4,900 for the ICU Wishing Well honouring patients’ wishes at end of life.
Inspired by the 3 Wishes Project in Ontario
, Julie Lockington, ICU RN, originally proposed the Wishing Well Project at VGH, and she readily found support from her ICU colleagues.
Since April, about 20 families have benefitted. “We’ll consider granting just about any wish, but to date all wishes have been quite modest,” says Allana LeBlanc, clinical nurse specialist, ICU and High Acuity.
Patient wishes have included a pet visit, a phone call, a favourite comfort food and many manicures. The Wishing Well has also supported a civil wedding ceremony at the bedside, complete with wedding decorations made by ICU nurses, and a child’s princess birthday party.
“More than half of our patients are from outside the Lower Mainland and don’t have easy access to their personal belongings,” says Allana. “We try and provide items or experiences that bring comfort, and that bring out each patient’s uniqueness.”
To fulfill patient and family wishes, the ICU relies on its Wishing Well Network, a team of 17 ICU physicians and staff who volunteer support and special skills, including translating requests. Thanks to their efforts, and the contributions of everyone who participated in the ICU Nurse for a Day fundraiser, many more patients and families will benefit from the Wishing Well.