Nfld. & Labrador

Daughter of former Waterford Hospital patient donating blankets to residents

A St. John's woman is helping patients at the Waterford Hospital by doing her best to make sure they've got a warm blanket to sleep with over the fall and winter months.

Wanda Walters says blankets provided by the hospital aren't warm enough

Wanda Walters is asking for the public's help to continue donating blankets to patients at the Waterford Hospital in St. John's. (Submitted)

A St. John's woman is helping to make sure patients at the Waterford Hospital have a warm blanket to sleep with during the fall and winter months. 

Wanda Walters told CBC's On The Go on Tuesday that it wasn't until her father was admitted to the hospital for dementia and she stayed overnight with him that she realized how cold it can get inside the building.

She said nurses frequently have to make do with limited resources, and the only blankets they offered her were standard-issue and very thin.

"The second night that I was there I believe I had like six blankets on me and I just couldn't get warm," she said.

While the staff will put the blankets in a warmer for a few minutes before giving them to patients, she said, after a short time they cool off.

"It dawned on me — there are some people here who have been here many, many years and have not known a blanket other than those thin blankets."

After her father died  in September, Walters decided to help some of the other patients at the hospital by delivering blankets directly to them. 

She's since delivered dozens of blankets with no plans to stop the donations any time soon. 

"I think it was probably the greatest feeling I've ever had," she said.

"Just seeing the faces, not only of the patients, but of the staff … they were just thrilled."

Challenging public to donate blankets

The Waterford Hospital building in St. John's is the oldest mental hospital in North America. (CBC)

It's not the first time Walters has decided to step in and provide services to patients at the Waterford.

Throughout the summer and into the fall, she's been delivering ice cream to help patients cool off.

"A lot of these people were just warm and sweating and I thought it would be a nice treat to bring them in sundaes," she said.

Walters said she's hoping to continue helping out at the Waterford in any way she can.

"When I first started going to the Waterford Hospital, like a lot of people, I had a really negative image of what the Waterford hospital was all about," she said.

But after getting to know the patients and staff inside, she said her perception of the Waterford has completely changed.

"It just kind of changed my whole outlook on the Waterford Hospital … getting to meet these people and seeing just how genuine and how grateful and how beautiful these people are," she said. 

She's looking for the public's help and asking them to donate a blanket to those in need. 

"I'm hoping that people will pick up on the challenge and will actually continue to fund the cause and donate a blanket," she said.

Walters said blankets can be delivered to her office at Freedom 55 Financial on the third floor of the terrace in Churchill Square.

With files from On The Go