Nova Scotia nurses send ComFORT and healing to Fort McMurray peers

As Marjorie Neill, registered nurse, watched TV coverage of the Fort McMurray wild fires, she thought of the nurses caring for and evacuating patients in the area. She was inspired to create ComFORT Quilts: The Tie that Binds, to let her Alberta nursing peers know they weren’t alone.

She remembers thinking, “Nurses have this important job to protect their patients, but who is looking after the nurses and their families?” The fact that the fires happened during National Nurses Week, when other nurses across the country were celebrating, made her feel even more strongly about the need to support her colleagues in Western Canada.

“I wanted to channel some healing vibes to the nurses in Fort McMurray,” she says.

Marjorie, who works for Dalhousie Family Medicine and Restorative Care at the QEII’s Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building, grew up with quilts. “My grandmother taught me to quilt and my mother made beautiful quilts too.”

Marjorie spread the word among her nursing colleagues that she was looking for gently used scrubs and uniforms to make quilts. Donations quickly started coming in.

Every quilt is different, made with scrubs or uniforms from many different nurses. The one common feature is a strip of Nova Scotia tartan fabric. Attached to each quilt is a tag with a handwritten note that reads, “A ComFORT Quilt: Made for you with uniforms from Nova Scotia nurses.”

Because it may take many months for Fort McMurray residents to return to a home, Marjorie aims – with some help – to make 100 quilts over the fall and winter. Her plan is to send or deliver them to Fort McMurray for Nurses Week 2017.

One patient was so moved by hearing of the project that she wrote this poem:

Nova Scotia beams its love
Across the miles to you,
With hopes for health and happiness
And peace and solace too

The miles between are many
That keep us far apart
Yet we are one, beneath the sun
We’re all linked heart to heart

So Nova Scotian nurses
Have crafted quilts for you
With goodwill sewn in every stitch,
To warm your hearts anew!

If you’d like to support Marjorie’s ComFORT Quilts project, you can. Marjorie will happily accept gently used scrubs/uniforms and quilting supplies, as well as helping hands.

“I would like to invite all nurses in the Halifax area to join me for get-togethers to cut the material and assemble the quilts,” she says. “I am also putting out a province-wide challenge to other groups of nurses to make quilts for the project. Let's see how many we can create!"

You can contact Marjorie at marjorie.neill@nshealth.ca or 902-876-1766.