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Timely gift of gratitude helps rejuvenate Aberdeen Hospital cafeteria

Mar 19, 2024

Home 5 News 5 Timely gift of gratitude helps rejuvenate Aberdeen Hospital cafeteria

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New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Tuesday, March 19, 2024

It’s difficult for Helen Scott-Davidson, former Director of Nutrition and Food Services for the Northern Zone, to speak about her last year in the role without becoming overwhelmed with gratitude.

Firstly, gratitude for a donation from a community member to help fund plans for much needed upgrades to the Aberdeen Hospital cafeteria space. Secondly, gratitude to the Nutrition and Food Services team whose dedication helped carry the department through a time she describes as challenging.

On Feb. 5, 2023, on one of the coldest days of the winter, staff at Aberdeen Hospital’s kitchen found their workplace had flooded. “The pipes above the walk-in fridge and freezer had frozen and ruptured, and our kitchen had extensive water damage,” describes Scott-Davidson. “We had to quickly jump into action, moving our workspace into the cafeteria. The staff were adaptable – because of them, we were able to maintain ongoing food service for patients without skipping a meal.”

The burst pipe occurred at a time when plans for cafeteria upgrades were well underway, thanks to a donation to the Aberdeen Health Foundation. The original plans for the project involved brightening the space with a fresh coat of paint, the addition of more modern furniture including sofas and armchairs, and some minor repairs and upgrades to improve functionality. With the pipe rupture, however, what would have initially been a two- or three-day closure to allow for painting and furniture assembly turned into an almost year-long ordeal, as the kitchen had to be remediated and rebuilt.

Photo caption: We commend Aberdeen Hospital Nutrition and Food Services staff for their adaptability and dedication during an unexpected ten-month renovation to repair water damage from a burst pipe. Staff continued to provide hospital inpatients with roughly 360 meals per day despite a significant impact to service. Staff are pictured in the new cafeteria space, made possible thanks to an Aberdeen Health Foundation Gift of Gratitude donation from community member Arnold Selway. Top row left to right: Susanne Lafferty, Corey Christopher, Josh Deal, Mary Anne Redmond, April Pellerine; Bottom: Priscella Stewart, Chelsea Parker, Tasha Short

In 2021, the Aberdeen Health Foundation received a donation from community member Arnold Selway. The donation came via the Gratitude program, a way to financially recognize hospital staff and physicians who have gone the extra mile and provide a meaningful gift of appreciation.


When asked why he chose Aberdeen Hospital for his gift, the donor was emphatic, “It’s just a friendly place. My friends, my family, we’ve all experienced it. There’s a sense of people working together.”


The donation was unrestricted, but Selway had one request: he would like his gift to be spent where it was most needed. The cafeteria was selected as the place with the ability to touch the broadest cross-section of staff while also benefitting patients and their families.

That skill of working together that inspired Selway’s donation was instrumental in maintaining services during the cafeteria closure, says Helen. “The staff were unbelievable,” she describes. “We had to do some menu modifications due to space issues. We were able to continue to provide the hospital’s 120 inpatients with three meals and snacks per day, approximately 360 meals per day in total, despite such a significant service impact.”

“Over the past 10 months, I cannot express enough gratitude for our staff. Despite numerous adaptations and hurdles, they consistently showed up and fulfilled every task asked of them. Their unwavering goal was to ensure patients had a pleasurable dining experience, even amidst the everyday challenges we faced,” said Alanna MacIntosh, Nutrition and Food Services Supervisor.

Amidst challenges posed by the closure of the cafeteria and limited retail options, the Nutrition and Food Services team pioneered innovative solutions to ensure staff and families continued to have access to food and beverages. The team introduced the GET app which allows staff to conveniently order custom sandwiches from their phone for easy pickup. Additionally, they started a snack cart which visited hospital floors to deliver food options to staff, patients, and families. “It was fulfilling to be out amongst the staff, even when our cafeteria was unavailable, providing coffee and snacks,” expressed Priscella Stewart, Cafeteria Worker.In October of 2023, the team welcomed Chelsea Parker into the role as Manager of Nutrition and Food Services, overseeing the food service and clinical nutrition operations. Helen worked closely with Chelsea to see the cafeteria project to fruition. The cafeteria reopened to the public on Dec. 15, 2023.

“While the cafeteria enhancement was already in the planning phase,” adds Parker, “The relocation of our food services due to the burst pipe provided an opportunity to perform some electrical and aesthetic repairs while the space was closed. The completion of the project has really allowed us to provide staff, patients and visitors with a place to rest, gather and nourish – a service that the site was deeply missing.”

“It’s incredibly moving that this donation came from a community member,” says Scott-Davidson. “It shows how close-knit our area is and how much our community members want to take care of each other.”


The Aberdeen Health Foundation is the leading charity for enhancing health care in Pictou County. In 2023 the Foundation invested over $2 million to fund medical equipment and enhance health programs at the Aberdeen Hospital and in our community.

Michelle Ferris
Executive Director
Aberdeen Health Foundation

902-752-7600 ext. 4442