ALTON — Dorothy “Sissy” Milnor passed away on Aug. 15, 2015, at the age of 95. She was a longtime supporter of Alton Memorial Hospital and a personal friend of founder Eunice Smith.
Years ago, Smith asked Milnor if she had sweet-smelling violets growing in her garden. When Milnor replied that she wasn’t sure, Smith assured her that if she had them, she would know it. The next day Smith arrived at the Milnor home with a huge basket of violets to plant in the garden. The flowers thrived and for many years the Milnors enjoyed spring breezes tinged with the sweet smell.
In addition to their charm and pleasing scent, violets are known for their healing powers. They are believed to reduce grief and stress and help alleviate feelings of loneliness and heartache.
When Milnor passed away, Alton Memorial Health Services Foundation was designated as a memorial. Her children chose to augment the donated funds and create the Family Room as a lasting memorial to their mother.
The room, constructed near the Emergency Room entrance, will be used as a place for families to gather when a loved one is nearing the end of life.
“It’s a room we would prefer not being in, but it’s a room that addresses the reality of what we deal with in here,” AMH Chaplain Bruce Baumberger said. “The Family Room will be a designated area for families of patients who have been brought to the ER and are in very serious condition. The family can meet with the doctor to receive news on their loved one’s condition. And, yes, in many cases, the news will not be good.”
The room — located where the triage room was located just inside the Emergency Department doors — will be remodeled to reflect a warmer, soothing atmosphere. It will have color and furnishing to help provide a tranquil environment when a family is dealing with difficult times.
“On very rare occasions, the news will not be as severe, but we will address the questionable survivability of the loved one,” Baumberger said. “In other words, the Family Room will be a place where Alton Memorial can provide the best care possible for families in the worst moments of their lives.”