Grateful Donor Supports ‘Mission: Nutrition’ for GGH Staff

The staff. Ruby couldn’t get the staff out of her mind. She marveled at how well the caregivers took care of her during her week admitted at Guelph General Hospital. Shifts would change, the faces came and went, but every caregiver provided the support she needed as she recovered from a reaction to a chemotherapy treatment.

“Those nurses and personal support workers and doctors, they handled everything I needed plus did the same for all of the other patients. I wasn’t easy, I was so emotional. It was my first time staying in a hospital, I felt so scared and ill, but they knew how to support me. There were other patients too who needed a lot and everyone was taken care of, every need met. I knew I had to do something for the staff,” declared Ruby.

Ruby contacted the Foundation of Guelph General Hospital and had several discussions with Project Coordinator, Jennifer Duggan to determine the best way to donate directly to staff. “Naturally, I explored whether this could fit with initiatives from our new Wellness Program,” Jennifer explained. “In March, Lauren Brown, the Health & Wellness Specialist, had organized subsidized nutritious meals for staff for Nutrition Month. For $5 staff got a healthy lunch and the meals were very popular, selling out a number of times. This seemed like the perfect fit to fulfill Ruby’s wishes.”

Lauren came up with the name ‘Mission: Nutrition’ and, with the cooperation of Marek Hospitality, began the program in mid-May. As Lauren shared, “We are so lucky in this hospital that we have The Bistro providing fresh and hot food from scratch. By offering these meals for $5, they are now more financially-accessible and help to make the ‘healthy choice the easy choice’ for staff. Ruby’s generosity is now allowing them to fuel their workday properly, with nutritious food that will sustain them.”

Healthcare staff have faced some of the most challenging days of their careers throughout the pandemic. It can be hard to find the energy, after a long shift, to shop for and prepare healthy lunches. How great to have a reasonably-priced alternative! The Bistro has reduced hours on the weekend but Mission: Nutrition meals are still made available in the meals-to-go section. The meals also alternate days of the work week each month to attempt to ensure that the bulk of staff have access to them.

Ruby made a significant gift of $10,000 toward this initiative to partly subsidize the cost of a healthy lunch for staff and the program will continue until the last dime of this designated donation is spent. “I am not a rich person but I can manage this. I wish I could give even more. To me, this isn’t so special, it is automatic to think of giving back. The care I received touched my heart.”

As she had no family history of breast cancer, Ruby was only mildly concerned when at age 35 she felt a lump in her breast. She sought care when it seemed to be getting bigger and, sadly, at 37 she received the diagnosis of cancer. Last November she started chemotherapy and had surgery in December. She has been recovering ever since and trying to regain her strength and vigour. “I never thought it would happen to me. I am so grateful for the quick care with COVID happening and the hospital so stretched. I am so proud of Guelph and this caring community and hospital.”

In a few weeks Ruby will return to her job doing quality assurance in the automotive manufacturing sector in Cambridge. “I just want to get back to my normal life. Though I won’t forget how, when I was so sick, the hospital was there for me. I want the staff to know that I see them. I see how hard they work and how much they care. I hope they feel appreciated through these meals.”

Feedback from the staff has indeed been overwhelmingly positive. When Lauren has promoted wellness initiatives at various ‘team huddles’ throughout the hospital, the subsidized meals have garnered the greatest amount of positive feedback of all the activities she has planned in her year of working at Guelph General.

“I think this is a lovely example of a donor working with the Foundation to make their philanthropic dream come true. There are so many ways to support our local hospital and the caregivers working within it. Ruby is so sincere in her desire to support the staff team and this gift is incredibly inspiring. We are so grateful for Ruby and this gift,” Jennifer explains. “We wish Ruby all the best for continued health as she navigates this cancer diagnosis and begins radiation treatment.”