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Local volunteers help meet patients’ basic needs


Local volunteers Pat Porter (left) and Doris Reed regularly donate clothing and toiletries for Emergency Department patients at the Civic Campus.

Rushing to the Emergency Department is a stressful experience for patients. In most cases, there isn’t time to consider what they’ll need while at the hospital or when they’re discharged.

Fortunately for patients in the Civic Campus Emergency Department, Pat Porter and Doris Reed are thinking about those needs for them. Over the past few years, the women have donated their time and money to deliver in-demand items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, underwear, socks and clean used clothing.

Their kind initiative began when Porter’s daughter-in-law, Civic Campus Emergency Room nurse Rebecca Briscoe, asked one year that, instead of giving her Christmas gifts, her family donate toiletries to the Emergency Department. Porter and her family happily obliged, but their charity didn’t end with the holiday season.

After several months of donating smaller items she bought on sale, using her own money, Porter found a way to expand her offerings.

“I was told that the hospital needed clean clothing for discharged patients,” said Porter. “Sometimes patients are flown in from elsewhere and don’t have family or friends to bring them a change of clothes. Or they’re discharged in the early hours of the morning, or they’re homeless and don’t have clean clothes.”

With that in mind, Porter asked Doris Reed, who volunteers as coordinator at the New-To-You Shop in Westboro’s All Saints’ Anglican Church, if the thrift store would consider donating surplus clothing to The Ottawa Hospital. Reed said it was “exactly the kind of fit we’re looking for” and gladly joined Porter in making monthly deliveries to the Civic Campus Emergency Department.

“We bring as much as the back seat and the trunk of the car will carry,” said Reed.

Briscoe praises the two women for their tireless work, including Porter’s long hours searching for sales and discounts on toiletries, and Reed’s endless efforts to sort, repair, clean and pack the clothing.

“I think it means a lot to our patients because they’ve already had a lot of stress to deal with, and then they discover that somebody has donated the things they need out of the goodness of their heart,” said Briscoe.

“We’re glad to do it,” said Porter, who also volunteers in the elementary school system. “But we can’t take all the credit. We’re meeting a need, but The Ottawa Hospital staff and volunteers look after collecting and distributing our donations. We’re all working together to fill the need.”


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