The Family Room that love built

With a broken yet gracious heart, Ann Roehl and her family stood – longing for one family member to remain with them, but ready to give hope and healing to other families that would have to endure what they just had. 

The Roehl family is a close one. Ann and her husband, Allan, had been married almost 37 years, and had grown their family to include two children, Scott Roehl and Katelyn Wideman.

Allan worked for Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors most of his career and took pride in his work as a purchaser. While he enjoyed what he did, Allan had been happily retired for almost four years when, as he put it, life threw him a speed bump. Many would see Allan’s newfound freedom from the nine-to-five grind as starting the next chapter, but his golden years were quickly and dramatically cut short after he got sick.

There were several dreaded days, and trips to St. Boniface Hospital. Allan had received an unfortunate diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer and he was being treated at the Hospital.

In late January 2018, Allan came to the Hospital for an outpatient surgical procedure to help relieve some of the complications of his cancer. After the procedure, Allan was sent home and was doing quite well. By the end of the week, however, it became clear that Allan’s health was deteriorating. Ann, Scott, and Katelyn decided he needed to go back to St. Boniface Hospital.

Allan was brought into the Emergency Department on Saturday, January 27 last year and the news was not good. The doctors said Allan had an infection in his body, and his kidneys were in distress. Ann recalls the Emergency Department was buzzing “with Code Blues”, making it difficult for her to absorb the information relating to Allan’s health.

When the family visited him in the Hospital the next day, Allan was having some trouble breathing. He asked them to go home, to take care of themselves and so he could also sleep. It would be the last time they spoke.

In the early morning hours of January 29, Ann received a call from an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) doctor explaining that Allan had been moved to the Hospital’s ICU, and that, while he was comfortable, it was time to call the family.

Allan spent twelve hours in ICU and throughout that day, Ann and her family spent time in the Intensive Care Medical/Surgery (ICMS) Family Room, during Allan’s final hours.

Even though the Family Room provided a place to rest and comfort each other, the family thought the area could be improved for visitors in the future.

Katelyn noticed there wasn’t a baby changing station nearby, for her newborn son, Ascher. There was one they knew of on the main floor, but the family was hesitant to leave even for a moment, as Allan was unstable.

Indeed, he lost his life that January day.

Overcome with grief, Ann and her children wanted to fill the emptiness they felt in their hearts, to honour Allan’s memory.

Members of their extended family and friends had started asking about donating in Allan’s name, so the family decided St. Boniface Hospital, specifically the ICMS Family Room they had used, would be the recipient of their own donations as well as gifts from family and friends.

Foundation helped find solutions
This family story continues in the spring 2019 issue of Believe.

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