Orly Chakupewa, (R), wears a T-shirt she created at Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre as Bickle Wellness Partner Cecilia Zabroky holds up the original hand-stamped painting. (Photo: UHN)

'These hands that don't work created something cool!'

Patient Orly Chakupewa has transformed a piece of art she created at Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre into the official logo for a charity she is working to establish. And it all started with a painting class.

When she first arrived on Bickle's Transitional Care Unit, Orly was recovering from an accident she incurred in Congo. She was paralyzed from the neck down, with minimal movement in her arms.

"I thought I'd be spending my days in bed or in rehab," Orly says. "But art classes have also become therapeutic, and a big part of my recovery."

Cecilia Zabroky is a Bickle Wellness Partner, a role designed to help patients enhance their quality of life, practice autonomy and rediscover the leisure and wellness activities that lead to fulfilling lives.

"We understand recovery can be a long journey, so we provide patients with wellness programming that represents a break from clinical care," Cecilia says. "From trivia night to music appreciation, whether patients reconnect with something they love, or discover a new passion, it can benefit them in the hospital and when they're back in the community."

Inspired by the shape her paralyzed hands formed when she brought them together, Orly tried hand-stamping a colourful heart in an art class, knowing exactly how she'd use it.

"Before my accident, I was starting to build a charity called Tozafuture (we are the future)," Orly says. "Our goal is to help raise the standard of health care in Congo, which I've now experienced myself.

"This heart is now our logo. These hands that don't work created something pretty cool."

Cecilia agrees, adding how rewarding it feels, to see patients find such meaning in their work.

"I believe in the power of recreation. But when a patient can take the work we do here, and say: 'this can have a purpose beyond an afternoon of painting' it keeps me inspired."

Beyza Das, Assistant Manager at Toronto General Hospital's Danish Pastry House, sprang into action when a patient fainted while waiting for a coffee. Beyza helped call a Code Blue and assist the patient, while serving customers. (Photo: UHN)

 Coffee house team serves up quick response and compassion

When a patient fainted and hit her head while in line for a morning coffee, Toronto General Hospital's Danish Pastry House staff sprang into action.

Panicked at first, Assistant Manager Beyza Das knew she needed to call for help – but Danish Pastry House doesn't have a phone.

As her colleague tended to the woman and spoke to her in Portuguese, Beyza quickly headed to the Information Desk at the Elizabeth Street entrance. The team there helped call a Code Blue.

"All of a sudden lots of doctors, nurses were here," says Beyza. "Once I saw she was breathing, awake, connected to machines – I decided I can serve customers."

Jane Ballantyne, Manager, Patient Relations, was on her way to start the workday when she passed by the scene.

"I saw Beyza and her team reacting quickly, calmly, professionally, and compassionately," Jane says. "They not only informed the right people to call a Code Blue as quickly as they could, but helped the lady who fell by making her comfortable, rubbing her back, speaking to her in her native language (Portuguese), and staying with her until the code team arrived to take over.

"And they helped customers who were coming in for their morning pastry or coffee on top of it!"

Samantha Martell, Leasing Management Specialist with Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations, oversees retail services across UHN, including Danish Pastry House.

"I might be biased, but we truly have an incredible Retail Services team," says Samantha. "We are so lucky our hospital vendors employ staff like Beyza who put the needs of patients first."

For Beyza, what started out as a stressful morning, "ended as a good day" – and she's ready if it happens again.

"I know to go directly to a phone, dial 5555 and say someone fainted. That's what I learned."

Anne Cayley, a nurse practitioner in the UHN Stroke Program, with some of the boxes decorated and donated at Toronto Western Hospital in support of The Shoebox Project Canada. Staff at TWH and Toronto General Hospital donated more than 90 shoeboxes this holiday season. (Photo: UHN)

Thinking inside the box for women experiencing homelessness

This holiday season, staff at Toronto Western and Toronto General Hospitals came together to decorate and donate shoeboxes in support of The Shoebox Project Canada, a national charity that "collects and distributes gift-filled shoeboxes to local women impacted by homelessness across Canada."

Each shoebox contained items worth approximately $50, including hats, mittens, scarves, journals, chocolates, lotions, shampoos, soaps, as well as gift cards. Each box also included a hand-written note with well wishes to the recipient. One heartfelt card read, "Dear Friend, may this gift bring you warmth and happiness. Please know I am thinking of you and wishing you well."

According to The Shoebox Project website, over the past 10 years, the team has distributed approximately 242,150 shoeboxes across Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom, and donated $1.2 million worth of gift cards and essential products directly to local women accessing more than 510 shelters and community agencies.

Together, our generous UHN colleagues donated more than 90 shoeboxes, which were delivered to four shelters across the GTA. Thanks to Sasha Howell and Heather Sherman for coordinating at each site and delivering the shoeboxes!

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