Palliative care garden refurbished

Palliative care garden refurbished with donation in memory of Ron Opheim.

Lush greenery and a serene fountain are giving comfort to patients at the palliative care unit of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

The garden was refurbished, with work completed in early June, thanks to a donation in the memory of Ron Opheim, who lost his battle with cancer June 15, 2011.

Last year family, friends and co-workers participated in the Ron Opheim Memorial Golf Tournament Sept. 24, raising $12,295 to help bring some life back to the garden outside the palliative unit.

Terry Opheim, Ron’s widow, said Ron spent a lot of time in the garden area while he stayed in palliative care.

“It’s a place that people can go that are at the end of their lifetime that feels like home,” said Opheim. “It’s a beautiful place to go.”

New improvements include a 2.4-metre fountain. There is also a plaque recognizing the improvements in Ron’s memory.

“He would just love that, that nice sound of water,” she said. “It’s honouring my husband and what he stood for and the love we had for him and that he’s not been forgotten.”

Brenda Rositano, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation spokeswoman, said the garden previously comprised various walkways, but is now a patio area surrounded by a container garden. The patio makes the garden more accessible for wheelchairs and for palliative beds to be rolled onto.

“It’s looking beautiful and calming and welcoming,” said Rositano.

Opheim said she expresses her “sincerest gratitude” to everyone who made the garden project possible.

Ron Opheim had a 20-year career in the newspaper business with Black Press, including the Nanaimo News Bulletin. Prior to that he managed managed a Shoppers Drug Mart store in Terminal Park shopping centre. He also played and coached hockey in Nanaimo for many years.

The garden project is complete; however, people can donate to the palliative care unit to purchase equipment and other items for the unit. To donate please go to or call 250-755-7690.