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When Jim couldn't visit his horse friends, Surrey Memorial Hospital staff helped get the horses to visit him.

Whoa, there. Horses were spotted at Surrey Memorial Hospital? Yes, if you happened to be passing by the north parking lot on Tuesday you would have seen Jim Clarkson in his hospital bed enjoying a visit with his equine friends Alex and Dodger. A volunteer with Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities for over 20 years, Jim helped provide therapeutic horseback riding to people with disabilities. When he couldn’t come to them, Pacific Riding brought the horses to him, at the request of the wish-granting genies at Surrey Memorial.

June 6 was “What Matters to You?” Day, when health care providers across the province were encouraged to start asking that question with the simple goal of encouraging meaningful conversations between patients, caregivers and families and their health care providers. Rehab assistant ShelleyLynn Gardner helped take the idea one step further by fulfilling patient wishes.

The first wish granted during the campaign shows how a small gesture can have a profound impact. 91-year-old Avtar expressed to her nurse that she had one craving: fish and chips. The “What Matters to You” team walked into her room with a brown takeout bag, and her joy was obvious, from her expression to her attempts to share the meal with them.

After being tube fed in the Intensive Care Unit for six weeks, when 19-year-old Mitch could finally talk the first thing he asked for was a slush drink. As soon as he could swallow it safely, the team brought him and his mom the biggest available slush. Other patients craved small comforts such as chow mein and reading materials, and their wishes came true as well. (See our Facebook album for more.)

ShelleyLynn was inspired to use “What Matters to You?” Day to find ways to strengthen the connection between health care providers and patient. “The human connection is so important, and it’s often the small things that mean a lot to people. Granting their wish shows that we’re taking time to listen.”

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