Kal Bachra with his baby granddaughter Neela and his daughter Sabrina outside the ICU waiting room

Waiting for news about a loved one’s surgery or health status can be very stressful. That is why Kal Bachra and his family donated $20,000 to the intensive care unit (ICU) waiting room at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

“We donated to the refurbishing of the ICU waiting room because my father was a patient there and we wanted to thank the doctors, nurses and staff for their care,” says Kal’s daughter, Sabrina. “We realized that the hospital allocates its resources to deliver the best possible patient care. We thought we could help make the waiting room a better space for families to gather and wait on news about their loved ones.”

The space got a fresh coat of paint as well as new, comfortable furniture and new art pieces, including calming abstract paintings by local artist, Camrose Ducote.

ICU social worker Hilda Nanning says the waiting room is a very important space for families.

“I really can’t stress enough the importance of sanctuaries like this around the hospital — away from the craziness and the hardship. It’s a place to catch up to oneself in the midst of the shock and feeling overwhelmed that can come with a medical crisis,” she says. “To have an environment that is peaceful, clean and supportive is very important. The waiting room is a warm place for families to meet, to talk, to mourn, and for people like myself to have therapeutic conversations with them.”

“So many people comment on how meaningful it is to have this kind of warm space in the hospital,” she adds. “Some of these people have been waiting for hours and sometimes for days.”

In 2016, Kal had emergency heart bypass surgery and was a patient of VGH’s Cardiac Surgery ICU. The operation saved his life.

“We always felt he was getting the best care possible, which is a testament to the people who work at VGH,” recalls Sabrina.

Sabrina says her family hopes the new room will be a comfort to the people spending long hours there.

“After spending days in the waiting room we noticed it was tired-looking and not the best space for families to spend hours waiting for news about their loved ones,” she says. “We hope that by improving the room, there will be a better experience for the families who use it.”