Normally tucked away in a small, quiet and dark break room on Providence Portland’s 7N—the perfect place for hardworking nurses to get a few minutes of rest—the Elsie chair looks fairly ordinary when it’s moved into a light-filled hallway for a photo shoot.
The small cream-colored recliner belonged to the late Elsie Franz Finley. It was her favorite chair at home and, during her final weeks of life, Elsie asked that it be brought into her hospital room. From this chair, she got to know the nurses who cared for her.
Shortly before Elsie passed away in August 2018, she said she wanted to give the chair to the oncology unit—so that nurses and other members of the care team could enjoy it as much as she did. Nurses walk an average of 4 to 5 miles per shift, and she knew they needed a comfortable place to rest.
“I sit in it every day at lunch, and sometimes I take a nap in it,” says Sara Olsen, RN. “It’s the most comfortable thing I can sit in. It’s magical.”
Kaitlin Harger, RN, describes Elsie as private and reserved. “But she always wanted to hear about our kids and our dogs,” she says.
“Elsie was a part of us, and our group mattered to her,” says Eva Bock, RN. “She cared about us.”
The unit can be a busy, high-stress environment, and the Elsie chair provides an important respite. “It’s a nice way to refuel and re-energize,” says Jerome DeLuz, RN. “I find it very relaxing and peaceful – almost meditative.”
So while Elsie’s legacy is honored every day at Providence Cancer Institute, a small group of dedicated nurses in the oncology unit knows there is no more special gift than a small, cream-colored chair.
Elsie was a part of us, and our group mattered to her. She cared about us.”