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NoahStrong Foundation supports program that helps caregivers

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The NoahStrong Foundation is partnering with North Bay Regional Health Centre on an initiative to help people find affordable hotel rooms when their loved ones are unexpectedly hospitalized in the city.

Dave Dugas knows all too well about sudden, unexpected hospital visits. His 13-year-old son Noah suffered a stroke during a hockey game in February 2020.

Noah’s family immediately sought medical attention, but at first, they couldn’t find anything wrong. It wasn’t until March 13 that an optometrist appointment urgently led them to the emergency room for a CT scan. That’s when the stroke was discovered.

"When we were down there with Noah, it was during COVID,” Dugas said.

“So that made the accommodations a little bit more challenging.”

Noah had to go to SickKids Hospital and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto for treatment in the summer and fall of 2020. The family was forced to sleep there until they could get a room at the Ronald McDonald House.

"We actually found ourselves pretty much sleeping in the waiting room of the (critical care unit) for about two weeks. That was obviously quite the experience for us,” Dugas said.

After Noah’s death in November 2020, the NoahStrong Foundation started.

Knowing other families are facing similar situations, the organization is partnering with the NBRHC Foundation and four hotel chains in the city -- Best Western North Bay Hotel & Conference Centre, Fairfield by Marriott North Bay, Hampton Inn by Hilton North Bay and Homewood Suites by Hilton North Bay -- for short-term accommodations.

The NoahStrong Foundation is partnering with North Bay Regional Health Centre on an initiative to help people find affordable hotel rooms when their loved ones are unexpectedly hospitalized in the city. (Eric Taschner/CTV news)

The NoahStrong Accommodations Program is a tribute to the legacy of the young hockey player.

The program, which launches Jan. 1, will help caregivers and family members whose loved ones are unexpectedly hospitalized in North Bay. The program helps them find inexpensive hotel rooms to stay at while they wait.

“His humble ability to unite and inspire communities is a testament to the values that this program embodies,” said foundation president Tammy Morison.

“We are just so incredibly humbled by the generosity of NoahStrong as our community continues to honour his legacy.”

To be eligible, recipients must be direct caregivers, have a stay of up to seven day, and reside at a primary address no less than 50 km from the hospital.

In the event that a caregiver's stay extends beyond the initial seven-day period, a second application may be submitted.

HELPS REDUCE STRESS

"This has been an ongoing issue,” said Morison.

“Families have travelled out of town in on a daily basis. That in itself can be totally stressful."

Dugas said the program is designed to ease the financial burden on caregivers and reinforce to them that they're not alone in their journey.

It also contributes to the overall well-being of patients by ensuring they have the support of their loved ones nearby.

The NoahStrong Foundation has been working on the program since the foundation launched.

"We wanted to just be able to help those people out,” he said.

“Through our experience, we were quite fortunate and had tremendous support from our family and our community."

The Dugas family says it’s proud to partner with the hospital in providing health care help in Noah’s name.

For further inquiries or information, please contact foundation@nbrhc.on.ca.

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