Quality health care close to home - why its important

by Al Roberts, Managing Director

Since I joined the AGH FVM Foundation two and a half years ago, I’ve met hundreds of wonderful, amazing people. Of all those people, I don’t think anyone that I’ve met quite represents the reason to support quality health care close to home as well as the late Rita Hickey, who passed away last month at the age of 93.

As Managing Director of the Foundation, my office sits just inside the Hospital’s front entrance. This allows me to meet and speak with dozens of people each day, some are patients, others are family members visiting patients, others are staff, volunteers, contractors, and delivery people.

I’m often asked if having my door so close to the entrance and usually left wide open doesn’t result in constant interruptions. I usually answer that the reward for those occasional interruptions is all of the interesting people that I get to meet, some of whom will share their hospital story with me.

 Mrs rita hickey

Mrs rita hickey

That’s how I first met Rita Hickey. A long-time resident on the Rosamond Unit, Mrs. Hickey was in the sitting area in the Hospital lobby, outside my door, almost every day around 3 p.m., visiting with one of her eight sons, daughters-in-law, or grandchildren. The 3 p.m. visit was just one of the times that her dedicated family checked in on “Grandma” every day. At 3 p.m. most often Greg, but sometimes Tony or Cheri, would bring her coffee and a brownie or cookie and sit and talk with her. If the weather was nice, they’d go outside so Mrs. Hickey could get some fresh air. It was a daily routine for her, and truth be told for me too. I tried never to miss an opportunity to say hi to Mrs. Hickey, sometimes complimenting her if she’d had her hair done, other times asking her about who was visiting with her that day or what she was having with her coffee.

According to son Des, “During our visits with Mom she never failed to mention how 'lucky she was'. Due to her health and constantly fighting infections in her legs she could have been upset, or have a negative outlook but she never complained and was always counting her blessings. I would ask her from time to time what she meant when she said how 'lucky she was'? Her response was that she was so lucky to have as many visits from family and friends and so lucky for the quality of care she was receiving. We were at ease knowing Mom was so close and being taken care of so well, It was quality healthcare close to home.”

I miss seeing Mrs. Hickey every day. Her smile, especially when surrounded by her family, reinforced to me every day that quality health care, close to home, is something to be cherished and nurtured by everyone in the Mississippi Mills family.

She deserved excellent care and we can all help contribute to that excellence.