New NRGH Emergency Department outreach program makes life a little easier for homeless population

July 27, 2016
New Hope Centre partnership

NANAIMO—When you don’t have much, a little bit of kindness can mean the world.

Salvation Army New Hope Centre Director of Community Ministries Rob Anderson had his day brightened on July 27, when Nanaimo Regional General Hospital Emergency Department staff dropped off backpack care packages as gifts for the centre’s shelter clients. The packs contain items such as socks, hats, toiletries and community resource information.

“It’s our way to say ‘we care about you,’” said NRGH Emergency Department Manager Trapper Edison. “I’d like to deliver a bunch of backpacks every month, so people know we are here for them if they need support.”

The New Hope Centre offers 23 emergency shelter beds for homeless males 19 years of age and over. Anderson said it means a lot to his clients that the NRGH Emergency team wants to help make their lives easier.

“We have men who come into our shelter who have nothing but the clothes on their backs, and maybe a plastic bag to put them in. So to be able to provide them with something like this – a few things they need and a backpack to put their things in, is amazing.”

This partnership is the latest component of the Emergency Department’s Discharged With Dignity project. Since May 2016, care team members have been collecting gently-used backpacks, filling them and giving them to vulnerable patients who need them.

When the Emergency team asked for help with the backpack project, word spread quickly. Island Health employees from NRGH and many other sites sent hundreds of donations. Supplies now fill a storage room in the Emergency Department, and backpacks are assembled daily.

“The response has been wonderful,” said Edison. “It’s a good feeling.”

Edison said the Emergency Department team has set a goal to give away 250 backpacks by the end of the summer, and 500 by the end of 2016.

Photo: Salvation Army New Hope Centre Director of Community Ministries Rob Anderson, NRGH Clinical Nurse Leader Val Gfrerer and NRGH Emergency Department Manager Trapper Edison drop off backpack care packages donated by the Emergency Department for the New Hope Centre's shelter clients. View high resolution image at: https://flic.kr/p/KphhTN

Central/North Island media inquiries

Valerie Wilson
A/Director, Communications and Engagement
North and Central Island
Island Health