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Gratitude is fuelling family-centred care in Aberdeen Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit

Jun 7, 2024

Home 5 News 5 Gratitude is fuelling family-centred care in Aberdeen Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit

New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Friday, June 7, 2024

What started as an act of appreciation has led to improved patient and family-centred care in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Aberdeen Hospital, thanks to the generosity of Bert and Louise MacNabb.

In 2018, Bert suffered from a serious infection, a complication caused by his diabetes, that led to a four-week stay at Aberdeen Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and the amputation of one of his legs below the knee. “They saved his life,” Louise says emphatically, when asked about Bert’s time in the ICU. “The staff were amazing. They were doing everything they could for Bert but were also taking time to focus on my wellbeing and helping to reassure me as best they could.”

Bert’s road to recovery was long. In total, he spent six weeks at Aberdeen Hospital, two weeks at Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital, and another four weeks at Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre in Halifax, NS. At each point in their journey, the care and compassion the MacNabb’s received left them feeling incredibly thankful.

“When Bert eventually got home, he really wanted to do something to give back,” explains Louise. “We approached the Aberdeen Health Foundation about a possible donation and that’s when they introduced us to the idea of the Gratitude Program.”

Photo caption: Melanie Hill (left), a Registered Nurse in the Aberdeen Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), remembers Louise MacNabb (right) well. Louise’s husband Bert spent four weeks in the ICU in 2018 following a diabetes complication, and the MacNabbs credit the care they received at Aberdeen Hospital for saving Bert’s life. They showed their appreciation with a financial donation to the Aberdeen Health Foundation through the Gratitude Program. Their Gift has since been used to fund the purchase of a recliner bed chair for the ICU (pictured). The chair will allow patients’ families to rest comfortably near their loved ones in the ICU.

The Gratitude Program is an easy way for patients and their families to recognize medical staff for the care they’ve received, with the ability to make a tribute gift in their honour.

For the MacNabbs, the Gratitude Program felt like a meaningful way of thanking the ICU for the care and compassion they were shown during Bert’s stay. “These are the people at the heart of our health care system, the doctors and nurses who never let us give up hope.”

The MacNabb’s gift was used to fund the purchase of a specialized recliner bed chair for the ICU, which will allow patients’ loved ones to sleep comfortably at their bedside – something that carries a special meaning for Louise. “When Bert was in the ICU, I wanted to be there with him every single day and seeing me there helped him feel more calm.” Spending that much time in the hospital took a toll on Louise though. “Being there for 8-12 hours a day became really hard physically, which you wouldn’t really think about, but these new chairs are so comfortable for the family members. I hope it’s going to help people get through those long days.”

In addition to the recliner chair, the Aberdeen Health Foundation provided funding for several specialized patient chairs to enhance patient care. “With the focus on patient and family-centred care, these chairs will add comfort to our ICU, not only for patients’ families but for patients themselves,” adds Lindsey Patterson, Health Services Manager for Critical Care Service at Aberdeen Hospital. “If they are able to sit upright and get out of their beds for a time, it’s actually much better for their health outcomes and helps prevent the development of pneumonia. It’s very rewarding for staff to know that the family of a patient was so grateful and appreciative of the care received that they’re willing to donate to help have a positive impact on others in the ICU.”

Bert MacNabb passed away in December of 2022, but Louise says he would be thrilled to know the impact of their Gratitude Gift. “I’m so pleased to be able to carry this story on. I know Bert would be too, if he knew,” she says, before pausing in thought. “In fact, I think he does know, and he is happy.”


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 Aberdeen Hospital and in our community.

Michelle Ferris
Executive Director
Aberdeen Health Foundation

902-752-7600 ext. 4442