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Bears and blankets program continues in honour of beloved colleague

Posted Apr 22nd, 2016

It was Marianne de Prinse’s nature to give to others. During her time as a nurse and Manager of Clinical Services at Niagara Health’s Douglas Memorial Site in Fort Erie, Ms. de Prinse worked with a group of volunteers to distribute handmade teddy bears and quilts to patients as a gesture of comfort during difficult times.

Hundreds of these items created and donated by the volunteer group Burden Bear Ladies of Black Creek offered warmth and a sense of home to patients, especially those who had been admitted long-term in the Complex Care Unit.

It was a project Ms. de Prinse was passionate about, but one that came to a sudden halt when Ms. de Prinse herself became ill.

“She was compassionate, she was jovial, she was loving, and she was caring,” says Douglas Memorial Charge Nurse Denise Kipling. “I was with her in her office shortly after she learned she had cancer.”

When Ms. de Prinse was admitted to the same unit she once worked in, Mrs. Kipling was assigned to be her charge nurse.

“It was an honour to take care of her,” said Mrs. Kipling. “She was gracious and she was kind because she now knew both sides.” 

Under the care of her former staff, Ms. de Prinse passed away April 22, 2015 at the age of 56. Her daughter Michelle de Prinse didn’t know about her mother’s work with the bears and blankets project until recently, but she wasn’t surprised.

“It sounds like exactly the kind of thing she would do,” said Michelle de Prinse. “She would want to make sure that people who are scared or sick or whatever they’re going through have some kind of comfort.”

In Ms. de Prinse’s memory, staff at Douglas Memorial’s Complex Care Unit are once again distributing these items to patients in need. Ms. De Prinse’s sister Irene Hooton says it is a perfect way to remember her.

“It’s just so nice to know that her work is recognized as more than just a job,” says Ms. Hooton. “It was part of her life.”

For many patients who need it most, Ms. de Prinse’s caring heart and kind spirit will live on in the warmth of a blanket or the comfort of a bear.

Niagara Health System