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Comfort carts continue legacy of giving by Vince Westwick

Vince Westwick, a former hospital board member

Vince Westwick, who served on The Ottawa Hospital’s Board of Governors, founded the comfort cart program to offer patients warmth and solace while in the Emergency Department.

Former RCMP officer, lawyer, member of The Ottawa Hospital’s Board of Governors, community advocate, loving husband and father.

There are many words to describe the many ways that Vince Westwick helped people during his life. The comfort cart program he founded in the Emergency Department at The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus continues to help people after his death.

Comfort carts are large carts filled with clean blankets. Patients and families in the Emergency Department are welcome to use them as they wait.

The idea behind the comfort cart program began when the Westwick family visited a hospital in another province.

“We experienced excellent doctors and compassionate nurses there, one of whom offered us a cup of tea and a sandwich,” said Barbara Westwick, Vince’s wife. “It was a small gesture, but it meant so much to us.”

The comfort cart is stocked with clean blankets

The comfort cart at the Civic Campus Emergency Department is stocked with clean blankets for patients to use.

The couple came home knowing they wanted to do something to provide comfort and compassion to patients at The Ottawa Hospital, but didn’t yet know what shape it would take.

A few years later, Vince became a frequent patient in the Emergency Department.

“He was in the hospital a lot,” explained Barbara. “Vince was met with so much compassion and so many wonderful people at The Ottawa Hospital, including one caretaker who gave him a hug. That contact was so helpful. It helped Vince get through some really rough times.”

Vince’s experience of physical comfort as part of compassionate care sparked the idea for comfort carts.

“He knew that when people arrive at the Emergency Department, they and their families are not at their very best,” said Barbara. “Vince felt that surely little things could comfort and give solace to people while they were waiting in the Emergency Department. He wanted to help people feel a little bit better.”

The comfort cart was created four years ago and has been part of the Civic Campus Emergency Department ever since. It allows patients and families to enjoy a small sense of comfort by wrapping themselves in a warm blanket during what might be a very dark time in their lives.

Sadly, Vince died in May 2017, but it was clear that he had touched many lives.

“The hospital staff were his second family. When he died, we were so moved by the cards and condolences that we received. I think the staff viewed him as part of the family too,” said Barbara.

And, in a small but important way, Vince’s compassion for people lives on. The comfort cart program will continue to provide comfort and warmth to the people who need it.


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