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Our Stories

Gift shop donation improves comfort for hemodialysis patients

Toronto, March 27, 2014

By Bao Xiong

Gift shop operations manager Cynthia Geurtsen gives a donated sleep mask to Sharon Baskette, a hemodialysis patient.
Gift shop operations manager Cynthia Geurtsen gives a donated sleep mask to Sharon Baskette, a hemodialysis patient. The sleep masks are gifts to help patients sleep or rest during their treatment. (Photo by Yuri Markarov, Medical Media Centre)

The Marion Palmer Gift Shop is constantly bustling, radiating warmth and hospitality to visitors, patients and staff.

Run by operations manager Cynthia Geurtsen, its purpose is far greater than just cards and flowers—it’s also about giving back to patient care.

The most recent example is the gift shop’s donation of over 100 sleep masks to the hemodialysis unit on 8 Cardinal Carter. Beds in the unit are separated only by curtains, making it difficult for patients to sleep uninterrupted.

“The dialysis patients come in to the hospital every week, and it’s not easy for them to rest in a large room that’s often crowded and noisy,” said Geurtsen. “We thought it would be a great idea to donate sleep masks to give them privacy during their visit.”

The hemodialysis unit has become somewhat of a second home for many patients, who come three times a week for an average stay of five hours. St. Michael’s also has a nocturnal dialysis program that allows patients to sleep overnight in the hospital during their treatment.

While the sleep masks are available for purchase in the gift shop for $10, more than 100 have been ordered to offer to all of the unit’s patients.

Geurtsen emphasized the importance of paying it forward and the effect it has on connecting individuals across St. Michael’s. All proceeds generated through the gift shop have always gone back to the hospital, with the purpose of funding numerous large and small projects.

“We want our patients to know that St. Michael’s is truly a caring place,” said Geurtsen. “We’re going beyond medical care to improve the quality of the patient experience.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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