VIDEO: Creating Respite Space For Calgary’s Frontline Hospital Workers

Mario Toneguzzi’s guest on Business Insider: Mike Meldrum, President and CEO of the Calgary Health Foundation, discusses a new initiative to build respite areas for hospital workers.

Press Release

As Alberta endures the fourth wave of the pandemic, healthcare providers and hospital staff continue to work tirelessly to protect and care for patients, despite experiencing unprecedented mental, physical and emotional strain. Leading global real estate investor, asset manager and business builder Oxford Properties Group (“Oxford”), together with EllisDon Construction Services Inc (“EllisDon”) and the Calgary Health Foundation (“CHF”), have launched an important initiative to support hospital workers in each quadrant of the city through the installation of respite areas that will create dedicated spaces for physical and emotional rejuvenation. In addition to the first outdoor respite area, which opened at Foothills Medical Centre in September, three more spaces will be built at the Peter Lougheed Centre, South Health Campus and Rockyview General Hospital over the course of the next year.

Historically, enhancement efforts have focused on the healing environment of Calgary’s hospitals in support of patient and family wellness. However, this project aims to enrich the hospital workers’ environment while bringing deserved attention to their tireless efforts as they continue to face significant pandemic-related challenges. In Calgary and surrounding communities, these care providers are made up of more than 46,000 staff, AHS physicians and volunteers who have been at the forefront of Alberta’s tenacious pandemic response. Each of the new respite areas will focus on helping to restore balance and support recovery from the stressors experienced daily by any and all hospital workers, whether they be doctors, nurses, food services, janitorial workers, administrators or other support staff.

Oxford and EllisDon are also inviting the community to be part of these efforts to provide relief for healthcare workers. A fundraising campaign in support of the construction of the respite spaces is now open for Calgarians to contribute to and donations can be made online at All proceeds will benefit the Calgary Health Foundation and be put directly towards the development of the remaining respite areas, supplementing contributions from Oxford and EllisDon, who is overseeing the building of the sites.

“It is with deep gratitude for the care providers putting themselves at risk to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our community, that we announce this initiative and invite Calgarians to join us in giving back to our local healthcare heroes,” says David Routledge, Vice President and Head of Western Canada Office at Oxford Properties. “Frontline workers consistently put the needs of patients above their own and this is an opportunity for us to express our thanks by creating spaces where they can take time to also care for themselves.”

Research has demonstrated the many benefits of incorporating respite and rejuvenation spaces into environmental design. These include the reduction of stressors and improvement of overall mental health, increased mental sharpness and attentiveness, enhanced creativity and problem solving, and the opportunity to connect informally with multidisciplinary teams to create more collaborative environments, among others. Short breaks for those whose primary responsibility and focus is to care for others is especially critical, particularly given the fast-paced and high demand environments found in medical facilities.

“Over the past 18 months we have seen our healthcare teams continue to step forward and meet the demands and challenges that wave after wave of the pandemic has brought,” says Mike Meldrum, President and CEO of Calgary Health Foundation. “Aside from dealing with the increasing medical complexities in caring for patients, care providers have gone above and beyond to act as technology experts, friends and family members, grief counsellors, comforters and confidantes. For those Calgarians in search of a way to say thank you to our frontline workers for their heroic efforts, this dedicated space that fosters recouperation and rest is  truly an impactful way to show that gratitude.”

In support of pandemic response, Calgary’s four hospitals have cared for more patients in the ICU during the past year than usual. Providing hospital staff with the rejuvenating and relaxing environment they need to ensure continued provision of the highest quality care to their patients is more crucial now than ever before.

“EllisDon is proud to be working with Oxford Properties, the CHF and AHS to show our continued support for the dedicated service healthcare workers provide to the community,” says Chris Royer, Construction Manager at EllisDon. “Most everyone knows of someone, or have themselves, relied on our hospitals during this unprecedented time. It is our privilege and duty to give back to our health care community by teaming with these organizations, along with our trade partners, to bring the Respite Areas at each of these respite areas to fruition.”

About Oxford Properties Group

Oxford Properties Group (“Oxford”) is a leading global real estate investor, asset manager and business builder. It builds, buys and grows defined real estate operating business with world-class management teams. Established in 1960, Oxford and its portfolio companies manage approximately C$70 billion of assets across four continents on behalf of their investment partners. Oxford’s owned portfolio encompasses office, logistics, retail, multifamily residential, life sciences and hotels in global gateway cities and high-growth hubs. A thematic investor with a committed source of capital, Oxford invests in properties, portfolios, development sites, debt, securities and real estate businesses across the risk-reward spectrum. Together with its portfolio companies, Oxford is one of the world’s most active developers with over 100 projects currently underway globally across all major asset classes. Oxford is owned by OMERS, the Canadian defined benefit pension plan for Ontario’s municipal employees.  For more information on Oxford, visit

About EllisDon

EllisDon is an employee-owned, $5 billion-a-year construction services company that has grown exponentially beyond its modest origins in London, Ontario. With over 5,000 salaried and hourly employees across fifteen national and international offices, EllisDon has become a leader in every sector and nearly every facet of the construction industry. EllisDon has positioned itself as a ‘Cradle To Grave’ Services Provider with guaranteed performance outcomes through its Capital Services, Facilities Management, and Sustainable Buildings Divisions. EllisDon is determined to lead the coming disruption in the construction sector, having recently created pioneering initiatives in Energy Management, Smart Buildings Software and Data Analytics.

About The Calgary Health Foundation

The Calgary Health Foundation is a philanthropic organization uniting donors, hospitals, care providers and community partners with the ambitious aim of revolutionizing health outcomes. Through deep cooperation, unrelenting persistence and a sharp focus on care, wellness and research, CHF is unyielding in its efforts to ensure its community receives the most progressive care in the world.

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works as a freelance writer and editor as well as a consultant in communications and media relations/training.

He is VP of Content & Strategy for MegaPixx Media, which owns and operates YYC Business, and owner of Mario Toneguzzi Communications Inc. 

Mario is a regular contributor to various national and local publications including Retail Insider, RENX, Globe and Mail, The Star, National Post, Real Estate Magazine, Troy Media, YYC Business, Grocery Business Magazine and many others. He’s also a host for Calgary and Edmonton on Canada’s Podcast network. And he’s a regular contributor of content for companies and organizations to populate their websites.

Frequent commentator on television and radio on business news, issues and trends.

Named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list.

Part of the Herald’s National Newspaper Award winning newsroom for coverage of the June 2013 floods in Calgary.

If you would like to be interviewed by Mario for Five Questions or Business Insider, he can be reached at 

Mario can tell your story, share your message and amplify it to a wider audience through various digital channels.

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