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Background Image: Good Sam Volunteer

When Sione Ofa, volunteer, pushes the activity cart down the hall to a patient’s room at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, he is acutely aware that he is delivering more than just crosswords, checkers or a deck of cards.

The hospital’s activity cart, known as the Pink Cart for its bright pink color, is a project that was created to help provide activities to patients who have been designated as needing one-to-one care. The activities aim to help with cognitive skills, keep patients engaged and provide social connection.

“We look at the patient’s chart and I talk with the nurses to figure out what types of activities would help them the most,” explained Ofa, who is also a pre-med student at Oregon State University. “I introduce myself, talk with the patient and let them choose an activity.”

The cart includes a wide variety of activities including cards, checkers, crosswords, puzzles, grooming items, magazines and pinwheels.

Tina Thurman, nursing manager, led the Pink Cart project with financial support from the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation in hopes of improving patient experiences.

“There are often IVs, noises and other medical things that can be confusing and unfamiliar to patients while they are here,” she said. “The activity cart helps us connect with patients to reduce stress and improve their experience.”

As a Pink Cart volunteer, Ofa has seen directly the positive impact the activity cart has made for patients he visits.

“People really do enjoy having a break from all the medical interactions,” he said. “I get a lot of thank-yous and requests for me to stay because they enjoy the social interaction it gives them. I love being able to brighten their day.”

New activities are always being added to the cart based on patient feedback.

“It helps build connections with our patients and that is really what our community is all about,” Thurman said.