“It used to be so bleak and sad looking out the windows of the rooms here," says Sarah Verran, RN. “Patients can feel like they're in prison because they can't leave the floor. It never seemed fair that they looked out on to dark, dirty walls."
Patients can stay for weeks at the Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Unit on the 14th and 15th floors at VGH. They may be there for chemotherapy, stem cell transplant or complication management.
“Most patients have a really weak immune system and need to limit their contact with the general public," says Jessie Rodrigue, operations director, surgical services. “These are pretty intensive and difficult hospital stays, not that most hospital stays aren't. The emotional toll alone is very challenging."
Sarah had thought often about how much nicer it would be to have a mural for the patients' rooms to look onto. When she returned from maternity leave, she put the suggestion forward and was thrilled that it was taken seriously.
She found the artist, Tyler Toews, through the Vancouver Mural Festival. Staff worked with him to inform the design and provided key words such as hope, support and nature.
“They wanted to convey a calming and zen environment," says Tyler. “I included water with nature and lotus flowers, as well as the North Shore mountains with The Lions. Hope is signified by a sprout growing out of a rock."
The wall was difficult to paint with protruding concrete pieces and cut-outs, but it was done in such a way as to mirror the natural skyline.
“A Japanese sand garden is shown and the ribbon of sand represents the journey that the patients take, which is not a sprint but a marathon really," says Sarah. “Patients that looked at the designs said it would have been so much better to look at during their stays. The staff think it's amazing."