Kootenay native Aaron Banfield is transforming the former chapel at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital into a “sacred space” where patients can focus on their emotional well-being and find support from their peers.
The project is deeply personal, as Banfield lives with terminal colorectal cancer.
When he returned to Rossland three years ago he developed a strange pain in his abdomen – his diagnosis set off a long emotional journey of treatment and personal growth.
“It kicked off a whole chunk of my new chapter in life that I didn’t expect, and it’s been pretty comprehensive.”
After a year of remission, her cancer returned and grew rapidly. “I don’t expect to see the end of the year, and maybe not even the end of the season,” he said.
A trained acupuncturist and longtime community organizer, he was thrilled when a nurse mentioned an unused space in the hospital.
“I was just sitting there and the nurse came in and said, ‘Hey, you like to meditate and stuff, don’t you? Well, there’s this old chapel, and it hasn’t been used for a lot in recent years,” he said.
The space needs loving care, but according to him, the feel of the room is “immaculate”. A beautiful non-denominational stained glass window provides natural light, while several side rooms provide spaces for people to practice their respective religions.
Banfield spent time in a similar room at the Kelowna hospital, and it benefited his mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
“Anyone who has spent time in a hospital knows that you enter a state of uncertainty. You forget what day it is, who you are and what life is all about,” he said.
Banfield used this experience to create his vision for a ‘dedicated’ and ‘active’ space in the old chapel. Words he chose with great care.
Dedicated in that it is designed solely to support connectivity and mindfulness. “The space is totally neutral, everyone is welcome,” he said.
Active in the sense that there are activities that promote psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being. Yoga, meditation, support groups, prayer spaces and a place for medical assistance in dying are all part of her vision.
The project goes beyond the physical needs of patients and focuses on the inside, which he says is often overlooked in end-of-life care.
“I really hope that the basic philosophy emanates from this and brings more care and attention to the subtle aspects of the hospital experience,” he said.
“Everything to take people away from the TV towards an easier connection.”
Banfield works with an interior designer to furnish the space. Once the physical space is designed, he plans to engage his community to see what types of services to offer.
Although the space is far from complete, he uses the room to practice his yoga, and he suspects others have started doing the same. “A lot of times when I come in the chairs have been moved, so I know other people are doing their business there too.”
For Banfield, the experience was meaningful and the support he received is indicative of a much needed addition to the hospital.
“Having a space that facilitated discussion and offered activities designed for people to know where their minds are is great,” he said.
Although he fortunately does not suffer much, he lives with important daily medical interventions. During his final months, he makes sure to appreciate the family and friends by his side – the “less tangible” ones who enrich his life.
“There’s been a lot of growth, a lot of healing, a lot of things to find within ourselves as my community and I really understood that I’m definitely going to leave,” he said.
Banfield is hoping for donations to fund and furnish the space.
He looks for lightweight, sanitizable furniture, including chairs, a loveseat, and a wooden bench. They are also looking for lighting, decorative plants and supports, a projector and roll-up screen, a fountain, yoga equipment, artwork (especially 24″ x 36″ nature scenes), large crystals or stone and a cupboard to store cultural and religious objects. objects.
To donate items, call the foundation at 250.364.3424 and be directed.
To make a cash donation, visit their website and in the section called “I want to support”, select “Other” and write sacred space.
CancerCity of TrailHealthKootenay Boundary Regional Hospital