Superheroes descend on Kingston General Hospital

An annual tradition that is now seven years running returned to KGH on Thursday morning, with a team of superhero window cleaners using their day at work to help bring smiles to kids and staff in the hospital's pediatric unit.

On Thursday morning, several patients in KGH's inpatient pediatric unit and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit waited for their chance to see Batman, Spiderman, Star-Lord, the Hulk, Ironman, and Captain Marvel repel down for a not so ordinary day of window cleaning work.

Spiderman, who said he should be quoted as Spiderman, said it's an amazing opportunity for the team with a sole intention of bringing smiles to kids' faces.

He said it can be very touching to see the reactions of children in the hospital.

"It's awesome... it puts things in perspective on our jobs and our life and everything," Spidey said.

"A couple years ago I was able to go on the floor before the pandemic, and it gets a big lump in your throat."

The tradition, now in its seventh year, has become a day that Elite Window Cleaning and KGH look forward to yearly.

Elite Window Cleaning Founder and CEO Chris Stoness says without a doubt it's the best day of the year for the company, and an experience they're thrilled to provide.

"It's something we've been doing for seven years and has really kind of defined who we are as a company," Stoness said.

"This is the most important, certainly, day of the year for us... It's my favourite day of the year because it gives us an opportunity to use our trade, which is a pretty humble trade of being a window washer, and kind of give back to the community and back to the hospital and give something that's a little different for kids who are maybe spending weeks or months inside."

The tradition continued throughout the pandemic with some minor tweaks, with Stoness saying they were eager to make it work as they know it's appreciated by both the patients and staff.

Not only that, but it provides the hard working staff at KGH with a morale boosting day they can look forward to.

"It's something they can kind of rally around because they were through the last two years really the lifeline for our entire community," Stoness said.

"So it was important for us just to keep business as usual."

Laura Picardi, Child Life Assistant at KGH, said the day brings lots of smiles to nurses, patients, and their families alike.

She says especially with the last two years being so difficult on healthcare workers, the impact can't be overstated.

"It's incredibly needed right now," Picardi said.

"I think everybody has been at a long road with COVID. Patients, staff - everyone's looking for something to boost their spirit, something to look forward to, something to bring smiles to their faces."

Picardi says everyone in the hospital looks forward to this day, and it provides some fun and morale boosting that often get lost in the day to day shuffle.

"The importance of fun, I think we kind of forget sometimes just what a key part of our lives it is," Picardi said.

"And it's not easy to come by when you're in the hospital, so just a day like this where you get something out of the ordinary that wouldn't necessarily happen at home or at school, it just creates a lot of excitement and provides a really fun day for everyone."

In a news release from Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) Kerri-Lee Bisonette, Manager of Pediatrics, NICU and Child Life Services at KHSC says the KGH staff also tend to get involved on this day, dressing up as caped crusaders and decorating the units.

She says it's a much needed day that helps relieve stress from deserving patients who are often in distress, and acts as a reminder that anyone can be a hero.

“We know it can be stressful to be sick and in the hospital for both the kids and their parents,” said Bisonette.

“Having fun like this helps to ease that stress. We want our young patients to know that superheroes don’t just exist in the movies—there are real-life superheroes everywhere.”

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative