New reclining chairs allow visitors to spend the night in comfort
125 hospital-grade recliners placed on various in-patient floors
As Norma Maege eases back contentedly in the cushioned reclining chair in her hospital room at the JGH, she winces at the memory of the aches and soreness she endured while recovering from her previous two cardiac procedures.
On both of those occasions, there was no way for her to turn comfortably onto either side, due to the intravenous tube attached to her right hand and the wires connecting the right side of her chest to the monitoring equipment.
Unable to lie in a position that normally helps her drift off to sleep, Ms. Maege had to remain on her back (her least favourite position) in a hospital bed, where she found it almost impossible to relax, let alone sleep.
But now, on this sunny mid-summer morning, with tube and wires in place once again, she smiles about the recovery from her latest procedure—transformed by one of the hospital’s newly acquired recliners, in which she spent the night.
“The padding was such a big improvement,” Ms. Maege says. “Unfortunately, I had to lie on my back again, which wasn’t as good as being on my side. But I was surprised how much better the chair made me feel. I was even able to sleep.”
This direct effect on patient care has come as a welcome benefit of the 125 custom-designed recliners, which were originally intended—and are still used most often—to help visitors relax in greater comfort while staying overnight in the hospital rooms of their loved ones.
Previously, visitors had no choice but to sleep upright in an office-type chair with little padding, or to move a pair of these chairs together and try to stretch out across the two seats. In some cases, cots were provided, but they were not very comfortable and could be an obstacle during an emergency.
Donated by Dorel Industries through the JGH Foundation, the chairs arrived late last spring and have been distributed throughout the JGH on floors where in‑patients receive care.
“I don’t know how I would have managed without it,” says Luciana Turchetta. For five evenings and nights, she has been sitting and sleeping in one of the new recliners to stay close to her husband, Renato, as he recovers from a heart attack.
She expects to spend at least another week in her chair at his bedside, keeping him company from about 5:00 p.m. to mid-morning.
“I can feel the support in my back and legs, and that’s important,” Mrs. Turchetta says. “I have high blood pressure, but there’s been no swelling in my legs. And when I’m comfortable, I can keep my mind on my husband.”
The medical-grade recliners, which Dorel arranged to have manufactured in China, meet precise specifications for hospital use. They also incorporate a number of features that were recommended by members of JGH staff.
Among the highlights:
- The amply padded chair can recline nearly horizontally for sleeping. In case of an emergency in the patient’s room, it can easily flip back to an upright position and be wheeled out of the way quickly.
- A metal bar at the rear of the backrest can be used to push the upright recliner like a wheelchair, whose wheels can be locked into place. If the patient is sitting in the recliner and wants to leave the room, she or he is spared the inconvenience of having to move to a wheelchair.
- The leather-like material is soft, non-porous and easy to clean, with no crevices, seams or stitching to trap dirt or bacteria. This is crucial in preventing the spread of infection.
John Marsala, a Nurse Manager in the hospital’s Azrieli Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and in the Cardiovascular Unit, says the recliners have also proved particularly useful for patients who have a respiratory illness and need to sit upright comfortably.
Mr. Marsala adds that being able to rest or eat meals in such a comfy chair helps motivate patients to get out of bed and move around, which is a significant aspect of their recovery.
In Palliative Care, Head Nurse Kathia Dorcelus has found that the recliner can yield significant emotional benefits for patients and visitors alike: The design and mobility of the chair allow it to be moved right up against the patient’s bed, enabling the visitor to get close enough to comfortably hold the loved one’s hand.
As well, she notes, the recliner can be pushed out of the way without a fuss and with a minimum of noise when nurses make their rounds to check on sleeping patients.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors would sometimes spend the night on a couch or chair in one of the hospital’s family rooms. However, Ms. Dorcelus says, these rooms have been closed since last year to prevent the spread of infection.
Alan Schwartz, Vice-President of Dorel, says he’s aware how much relief the chairs have provided, but in a broader sense, “it’s not about the chairs—it goes beyond that. It’s about identifying and meeting a need.
“Dorel has done very well over the years, and all of us—not just me, but all of us—feel a desire to give back and do anything we can, within our means.”
Your support helps improve care at the JGH
Your financial support is vital in ensuring that the JGH continues its decades-long tradition of delivering superior treatment and care.
To earmark your donation for one of the hospital’s many pace-setting programs and services, or to make a general contribution, contact the JGH Foundation at 514-340-8251.
Support for the hospital, through a donation to the Foundation, will also be gratefully accepted online.
The subject of the chairs arose last year in a casual conversation with Larry Sidel, Executive Vice-President of the Foundation, when overnight stays and the comfort of patients and visitors were discussed.
Since Dorel is one of North America’s largest furniture companies, it seemed more economical to have Dorel produce the recliners than for the Foundation to purchase them.
Mr. Schwartz explains that his desire to help is due, in large part, to his family’s deep, personal connection to the JGH, where he, his brothers and his children were born.
“The hospital has always been there for us when we needed it and we want to show our appreciation,” he says. “The chairs were required, and if it hadn’t been chairs, it would have been something else—and we would have been there for that, too.”