By Courtney Steen Recreation Therapist, VGH
Many patients this year have either been quite unwell or had unique circumstances that required them to stay at the TB Unit for a long period of time for treatment.
For example, one patient came after being diagnosed with TB while working on a freighter from the Philippines. With nowhere to go to isolate, and no family to stay with, this patient was in the TB Unit until he could be off isolation and safely travel home by air. It was a long stay for him, made even longer with knowing his wife was expected to deliver their baby soon. Fortunately, he was able to make it home before the baby arrived!
Another memorable patient was an older woman of South Asian heritage. Her family realized that she had moderate dementia only after the death of her husband in July 2022. She loved to cook, and as part of her recreation therapy while in the TB Unit, she was able to make samosas, all from a recipe in her head, giving her a sense of normalcy and engaging her mentally and emotionally.
Robert was a patient who told staff that at home in the BC Interior he would spend most of his days outside, so to be inside the TB Unit all the time was incredibly difficult for him. With changes to the policy on outdoor access allowing some patients to go outside with a friend or a family member, Robert and his twin sister Patricia went out most days starting in late January until he was discharged in May.
As the person who initiated this policy, I find it very rewarding to see patients directly benefiting from the work I put in and I’m appreciative to be working with a team of physicians who see the value of making changes in the name of improved patient care.
Many patients this year also joined the TB Vets Get Up and Breathe online fitness program. Feedback from everyone who has participated has been positive, and some patients continue to follow these workouts at home on YouTube. And it’s not just TB patients – one patient who is currently in the TB Unit waiting for a lung transplant is using those YouTube videos daily to help maintain his physical fitness as best he can, leading up to his transplant.
As always, a heartfelt thank you to TB Vets for continuing to support recreation therapy at VGH. I hope you see the impact your support makes as much as I do.