Healthy.Together.Markham.Stouffville. Fall 2018 Edition

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Superhero: saved

The incredible story of Ashlin Peaker pg.16

Combating cancer pg.22

Mind matters pg.13







Ione Hardcastle Herman Grad & Family

Vivian Risi






Cesaroni + Son

Markham Radiologists

Citywide Locksmiths Ltd.

Markham Stouffville OBS/OBGYN Associates

Henry’s Photo-Video-Digital Liberty Development Corporation Lynde Institute for Dermatology

Meridian Credit Union Tim Hortons – Markham & Stouffville Restaurant Owners

CaTECH Systems Ltd. Frank & Freda Spain Markham General Surgeons Markham Stouffville ProResp Inc. Stephen Tar, Century 21 Leading Edge



For photos of the luncheon visit

@MSHospital #CIBCCelebrationofHope

We thank our generous contributors who missed our print deadline. Your support is sincerely appreciated.


MSH NEWS What’s new at MSH and in our community


SIGNATURE EVENTS CIBC Celebration of Hope, MSH Leaders Night at the Races and the MSH Foundation Golf Tournament


COMMUNITY EVENTS Incredible fundraisers hosted by hospital supporters

10 UPCOMING EVENTS Events and fundraisers to add to your calendar 12 MSH HEROES: HONOURED TO CARE Recognizing the heroic accomplishments of our MSH Family

FEATURES 26 COMFORT AND JOY Buy a Bear campaign brings happiness, inspiration and impact 28 STRIDING FORWARD Same-day joint replacement surgery launches 30 BRAIN WAVES Innovative device-based treatment supports mental health patients

COVER FEATURE 16 A LIFE SAVED: ASHLIN’S STORY Meet Ashlin Peaker, a young woman who came to MSH and was diagnosed with a rare, debilitating disease



Newly named cancer clinic provides community with vital care

Shakir Rehmatullah


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

On the cover: Ashlin Peaker, who was treated at MSH, stands before her artwork at the Intensive Care Unit



SENIOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Kendra Schumacher SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Ryan Izokaitis CONTRIBUTORS: Vawn Himmelsbach, Jessica Lockhart, Jaclyn Tersigni, Maggie Welt EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: Sarah Moore DIRECTOR, CONTENT & ENGAGEMENT: Levon Stevenson PROJECT MANAGERS: Anne Cuiry Suntharalingam, Melanie Anderson PHOTOGRAPHERS: Tim Fraser, Della Rollins MARKHAM STOUFFVILLE HOSPITAL, EDITORIAL ADVISORS: Suzette Strong, Madeline Cuadra, Yeena Peng VICE PRESIDENT SALES, STAR METROLAND MEDIA: Steve Shrout PUBLISHER: Star Metroland Media PRINT & INSERTING SALES MANAGER, STAR METROLAND MEDIA: Robert Wildbore ADVERTISING SALES: Melanie Anderson, Star Metroland Media, Healthy.Together.Markham.Stouffville.™ is published twice a year by Star Metroland Media Content Solutions, in partnership with the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The material in this publication is intended for general

Dear Friends, It is an exciting time for Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) as we begin to implement a bold and innovative strategic plan and launch a new vision and mission for the hospital. This new plan did not come to fruition overnight. It was inspired by many conversations with our patients, families, donors, staff, physicians, volunteers and community. Your feedback was clear. Keep focusing on our commitment to patient-centred care, work towards improving connections with community care providers so that our care is coordinated better. Our bold new vision – Care beyond our walls: Connecting with our community – speaks to our commitment to serve our patients beyond the boundaries of our physical facilities. As we look to the future, our focus will be on strengthening our partnerships with community service organizations and primary care physicians, as well as integrating our care in the community to create a seamless and simple transition from MSH for our patients. Our inspirational new mission – Honoured to care – is an expression of our humble and compassionate attitude, and recognition of the respect

we have for the people who choose us for their care. At MSH, serving patients and their families is a privilege and our people – the MSH Family – work hard to demonstrate this every day in all we do. None of this can be possible without the incredible support and generosity of our community. In this magazine, you will read stories of extraordinary donors who make a tremendous impact on our hospital. A monumental seven-figure gift that named our cancer clinic will support the purchase of life-saving equipment and priority needs at the hospital that governments cannot fund. We also share the story of a grateful patient’s significant contribution enabling our mental health team to introduce innovative new treatment methods. We are constantly awestruck by the leadership, kindness and generosity of our donors, grateful patients and community. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey as we continue to provide high quality care for patients and their families in Markham, Stouffville, Uxbridge and beyond. It is you, our grateful patients and generous community who will help us become a provincial leader in healthcare.

information purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the material, it does not constitute advice or carry the specific endorsement of either Star Metroland Media or Markham Stouffville Hospital. Readers are encouraged to consult their doctor to discuss their health concerns.

Suzette Strong CEO, Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Jo-anne Marr President & CEO, Markham Stouffville Hospital

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018




WE’RE SOCIAL! We love hearing from our community. Tell us about your experience and why you love MSH. @MSHospital

CHARGING TOWARD TOMORROW MSH is definitely plugged-in to the future. Recently, a series of electric car charging stations were installed around the hospital and are now in full use. Find available charging stations by downloading the ChargePoint app. This is just one more way that MSH is showing its commitment to being an environmentally friendly and sustainable hospital. Eco-friendly charging stations

Roberta Lau accepts Accessibility Award on behalf of MSH.


TD Team

TD DONATES $500,000 You can take this to the bank. TD Bank donated a half-million dollars to MSH. With its support, TD Bank is inspiring MSH to continue to lead the way in healthcare greening, all the while helping to improve the health and wellbeing of MSH patients, staff, community and the environment. Committed to building stronger communities and better health, TD Bank was one of the first financial institutions to give to MSH’s Expansion Campaign. This contribution aligns with TD’s long-standing commitment 4

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

to environmental awareness promotion and greening, as the expansion project was part of the hospital’s sustainability vision and pledge to build a greener future. TD’s support is not only a welcome financial boost; it’s also an endorsement of the hospital’s environmental sustainability philosophy and culture of wellness. It’s a generous donation that will support many key priority needs at the hospital. In recognition of the contribution, MSH has named its green roof in TD Bank Group’s honour.

Earlier this year MSH received two awards in recognition for its greening initiatives at two different industry events. The first was the 2018 Energy and Sustainability Award, from the Canadian College of Healthcare Leaders. The second was the Greening Health Care 5% Club Award, presented by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. These honours are hard-earned and warmly received, and great examples of how the hospital continues to be a leader in green healthcare. MSH also received the 2018 Markham Accessibility Award, which is bestowed by the City of Markham. This is in recognition of all the ongoing work the hospital has undertaken to improve accessibility opportunities and remove barriers for persons with disabilities.


CDP Team

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, CDP! The York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program (YRPSLP), administered by MSH’s Child Development Program (CDP), is celebrating 20 years of providing services to families in the community. The program launched in 1998 with eight locations and approximately 14 staff. It’s been an incredible two decades: serving thousands of children from birth to age four who have difficulty learning to communicate or to interact. The program focuses on the early identification, prevention and treatment of speech and language difficulties. YRPSLP is a dynamic program,

which partners with parents and resources in the community to provide speech and language therapy for children close to home. Over the years, it has been streamlined and co-located with community partners. CDP also added, the Tri-Regional Infant Hearing Program in 2001, and the Tri-Regional Blind-Low Vision Program in 2007 to help support children who are identified as having hearing or vision loss. Providing this support early in a child’s life is essential to their development — get them the help they need as soon as a delay is perceived. Learn more:

REACHING FOR THE TOP The results are in! MSH has received “accreditation with exemplary standing” from Accreditation Canada. What does this mean, exactly? Well, it means MSH has achieved 99 per cent of the required organizational practices with meticulous attention to detail. This achievement is a testament to the commitment and courage of everyone involved in helping the hospital achieve our vision to provide care beyond

our walls — connecting with the community and providing them with safe high quality care. Preparing for accreditation is a rigorous ongoing process.

EXPANDING EMERGENCY CARE No one likes waiting in the emergency department (ED) – especially during the holidays. To better serve our ever-growing community, our ED is being enhanced. This means that staff and physicians will have more assessment rooms in which to provide more timely care for patients with less complex conditions such as cuts, sprains, minor head injuries or cold and flu symptoms. This will help address wait times throughout the busy holiday season and beyond. As always, for less serious conditions, check our waittime clock at for real-time updates on the estimated wait time to see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018


Jim Cochrane, Betty Bell, Bonnie Cochrane, Allan Bell, Mike Cooper

Jessica Holmes

Suzette Strong, Shakir Rehmatullah, Jo-anne Marr, Brad Morris

Erin Davis and Santa

MSH SIGNATURE EVENTS 29TH CIBC CELEBRATION OF HOPE The CIBC Celebration of Hope, now in its 29th year, is a luncheon on a massive scale hosted by the MSH Foundation – and always a must-attend event on the community calendar. Canadian radio personality, Erin Davis returned to host this beloved event for the 25th time. This year’s luncheon, an event which has raised more than $2.8 million over the past 11 years to support cancer care at MSH was held in November at the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites. It brought together the community to celebrate, educate and elevate awareness about cancer and the people who are impacted by it. 6

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

The event attracted Canadian celebrities including CTV’s Lloyd Robertson and 98.1 CHFI’s Mike Cooper whose late wife, Deborah, was remembered along with others who lost their battle to cancer. With the festive season fast approaching, nearly 1,000 guests came together to enjoy an elegant afternoon filled with on-site boutique shopping, amazing auction prizes, and inspiring speeches, all under the fitting theme of “Even Santa Loves Pink.” New this year, Canadian comedian, author and actress Jessica Holmes – who has opened for Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey, and well-known for her role on Royal Canadian Air Farce – took the stage with her interactive mix of stand-up comedy, music and impressions. The event reinforced the belief in supporting one another through all of the emotions

that cancer brings to the people it affects. The ultimate financial goal: to support the growing needs of cancer care. In order to keep up with the increasing demand, more space is needed at MSH, which will help improve the overall patient experience, efficiency and patient flow. The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic – which now includes the breast health centre, chemotherapy clinic, pain and symptom management clinic, colon health services, clinical trials and radiation consultative services – was created in response to demand from residents who wanted cancer treatment within their own community. CIBC returned for the seventh year as the Title Sponsor. The afternoon was capped off with the Raffle of Hope draw; John Guerrera of Richmond Hill won the grand prize, a 2019 Jetta generously donated by Town+Country Volkswagen.


L-R: David Milovanovic, Dr. Taslim Dawood and Jim Cochrane

34TH ANNUAL MSH FOUNDATION GOLF TOURNAMENT On August 13, more than 160 golfers hit the links at the prestigious York Downs Golf & Country Club, all in support of MSH. The 34th Annual MSH Foundation Golf Tournament, always a testament to the generous spirit of our community, was a full day of activities, complete with live entertainment, a delicious dinner,

L-R: Michelle Cowan, Brad Morris, Board Chair, MSHF, Peter Zukow, Bill Bachra, Board Director, MSHF, Patrick O’Hanlon, Chair, Golf Committee, David Hill, Kathy Crupi, Mary Evelyn, Jo-anne Marr, President & CEO, MSH, and Suzette Strong, CEO, MSHF (Missing: Michael Froggatt, Shaun Sauve)

prizes and auctions. This tournament marked the 13th consecutive year for Presenting Sponsor, Honeywell, it is also the 20th year with York Downs Golf & Country Club as Venue Sponsor, part of their extraordinary ongoing commitment to our community’s healthcare. One poignant highlight of the evening was an extremely successful equipment appeal led by Dr. Taslim Dawood. Her powerful story helped raise more than $70,000 that will enable the purchase of two incubators and life-saving equipment to take care

of the hospital’s tiniest of patients. Longtime MSH donors Jim Cochrane and David Milovanovic split the purchase of the first machine, while a number of generous individuals supported the purchase of the second. Overall, this year’s event raised an outstanding $233,000. The hospital is so grateful to all the generous sponsors, auction donors, committee members and volunteers for making the event such a success. Book ahead to sponsor the 35th annual tournament on August 12. View photos from the event at

8TH ANNUAL MSH LEADERS NIGHT AT THE RACES Each year, the Night at the Races gives guests a spectacular evening at Woodbine Racetrack, cheering for the winning horses while fundraising for MSH. This year, 98.1 CHFI Toronto’s Michelle Butterly was delighted to return as emcee of the event, as 200 attendees enjoyed dinner and cocktails and the rush of live horse racing. The night would not have been made possible without the support of the sponsors, especially, Harrison Financial Group – CIBC Wood Gundy. As always, it was a great opportunity for guests to mingle with business and like-minded leaders and enjoy the sport of kings – all while supporting extraordinary healthcare close to home.

L-R: Jack Ungar, Mary Evelyn, Amrithal Bachra, Eddie Mariani, Chair, MSH Leaders, Astrid Schyvenaars, Lee Harrison (Missing: Salmaan Alvi, Board Director, Moe Anwar, Aurelia Fernandez, Monika Jazyk, Vaughan Jazyk, Aaron Madar, Carol Milroy, Joane Mui, Meg Stokes, Rachna Uberoi, Aly Virji, Xylia Yuen)

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018




Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation













SPRING-SUMMER COMMUNITY EVENT HIGHLIGHTS It takes our entire community to support MSH. We gratefully acknowledge the generous fundraising efforts of our many supporters. Every dollar raised offers life-changing and life-saving potential for a family member, friend or neighbour. Thank you! 1.


TIM HORTONS MARKHAM AND STOUFFVILLE SMILE COOKIE CAMPAIGN Markham and Stouffville Tim Hortons owners present a cheque for $53,500 to Allan Bell, MSHF.

2. Z103.5 FM MORNING SHOW LIVE AT MSH Grateful patient, Emma (centre), Markham Thunder players, Alexis Woloschuk (left) and Victoria Bach (right) and Suzette Strong, CEO, MSHF, join radio hosts Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan during their live broadcast.


3. ALEX CHIU ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT Allan presents the Alex Chiu golf committee with a gift of appreciation for raising $25,000 for MSH.

4. KATHLEEN DILKAS KANETOS MEMORIAL GOLF TOURNAMENT Dr. Mano Kanetos and Dr. Steven Dilkas organized a golf tournament in honour of Kathleen Dilkas Kanetos and raised over $18,000 to advance medicine, drive innovation and support continuing education opportunities at MSH.


Dave and Sharon Howcroft pose with their guests at their WrestleMania themed golf tournament.

9. PETERSEN FAMILY CHRISTMAS RECITAL Petersen family presents the proceeds from the 5th Annual Family Recital to Joyce So, MSHF.

10. COMPASS HILL GOLF TOURNAMENT Generous participants at this inaugural tournament raised $45,000.

11. STOUFFVILLE PHARMASAVE CHARITY BBQ Owner Nayan Patel accepts a token of appreciation for raising $5,000.

12. WEINS CANADA GOLF TOURNAMENT Weins Canada staff with Allan at their inaugural golf tournament.

13. ST. BROTHER ANDRÉ CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL MARKETING FAIR Mrs. Osawe’s Grade 10 marketing class receives a recognition plaque for raising $755.

5. DARYN’S MACARON SALE Dylan, Asha, Daryn and Akshayan proudly showing gifts of recognition for raising $835 to support critical care.

6. 3RD ANNUAL SCOTIAMCLEOD NIGHT AT THE RACES Colin, Jan, Chelsea and Jackson at this annual ScotiaMcLeod event at Woodbine Racetrack raising $15,000.




14. VANSPALL’S NO FRILLS SAVE IT FORWARD Sean VanSpall and his staff present a cheque for $2,050.

15. NS DENTAL GIVES BACK NS Dental’s Dr. Nalini Sutharsan receives a gift of recognition for raising over $10,500.

ROTARY CLUB OF MARKHAM SUNRISE RIBFEST Rotary Club of Markham receives an appreciation plaque from Allan for raising $10,000 to benefit the Dr. Bear program.

#MSHCOMMUNITY Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018




CALENDAR These fundraising events, organized and supported by our friends in the community, demonstrate a strong belief in our hospital’s services and programs. Visit for full details.


Shoppers. LOVE. YOU. Run for Women Unionville Benefiting women’s mental health, participate as a team or as an individual for this 5K or 10K walk/run or the Little Steps 1K. Register now at

Sat. Dec. 1, 2018

Mike’s Love Lemonade Markham Mike from Mike’s Love Lemonade is trading up lemonade for hot chocolate. His holiday sale features warm sweet treats, festive decorative items and a Santa to take photos with! Contact

Sat. Jan. 26

Fête Chinoise: The Language of Legacy The Art Gallery of Ontario A spectacular showcase and cocktail gala celebrating Chinese New Year. For details visit

Sat. Feb. 23

Annual Amici Breast Cancer Fundraising Gala Terrace Banquet Centre Benefiting cancer care, guests enjoy an antipasto bar, dinner, open bar, auction, gifts and entertainment. For details visit or call 905-307-4141 10

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Sun. Jun. 2

6th Annual Unionville Festival Funky 5K

Sun. Apr. 6

Angus Glen Spring Ten Miler Angus Glen Golf Club The final opportunity to run on the golf cart paths this spring. This race sells out! Register at

Fri. Apr. 12

MSH Foundation’s Gala Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa Sponsorship opportunities available for this biennial event, contact Allan at or 905-472-7395 or visit

Main Street Unionville This race is bringing back tie-dye and all things groovy! Don’t miss this timed 5K run/walk and family 2K walk around Toogood Pond Park. Register at

Mon. Aug. 12

35th Annual MSH Golf Tournament York Downs Golf & Country Club Enjoy a day of golf, auctions and great food. Sponsorship opportunities available, contact 905-472-7395 or Allan at or visit HOST A FUNDRAISING EVENT! Whether it’s a family skate, holiday dance or winter carnival — no event is too big or too small. EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS! Contact Joyce So at or 905-472-7373 ext. 6229.

Let’s make tomorrow healthier and brighter.

Maintaining the health and wellness of the communities we live and work in, is essential to shaping a better tomorrow. That’s why we are proud to support Markham Stouffville Hospital. Learn more at

CIBC Cube Design & “Banking that fits your life.” are trademarks of CIBC.


“THE PHILOSOPHER” Hem Jha CT technologist


em Jha is a thinker. He explains his job as a CT technologist as threefold; helping doctors diagnose illnesses, symptoms or injuries. Hem will often chat with patients, prioritize needs and ultimately maximize efficiencies in a very hectic and busy environment. Hem arrived in Canada from Nepal in 2010, and the transition was hardly smooth. He had worked as a CT technologist in Nepal for over seven years. After obtaining a licence to practise as a medical radiation technologist in Canada, he initially struggled to find work. “I didn’t even know how to start looking for a job here,” he says. But he did secure employment. After a period of time working at a clinic, he made his way to MSH in 2013. And he’s never looked back. Hem characterizes the staff at MSH as “a great team, who are always very supportive of each other.” 12

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

He says he has always been “very conscious of patients and their needs,” and having experienced his own struggles has only deepened his empathetic stance. He is always looking for, “the patient who needs more care,” so that he can provide that extra little bit. He feels strongly about providing individualized care — no one is to feel rushed and all patients and families should have an exceptional experience. That meticulous care certainly pays dividends. Hem recounts talking to one elderly patient, in particular, who was claustrophobic and about to receive a CT scan. “I was talking and distracting her so she had no fear.” When the scan was done the woman said, “I wish every healthcare provider was like you.” Hem says he hears that fairly often and it keeps him motivated to do even better. “I am really proud of what I do,” he says. “And blessed to work at this hospital.”


“THE PEOPLE PERSON” Christine McGilvray Clinical leader

hristine McGilvray always knew she’d go into nursing. A self-described “people person,” Christine says she has a, “passion for caregiving,” and is often told she’s a nurturer. Christine spent her early career at a hospital in Toronto, and was looking to move her job closer to home. While her mother-in-law was a palliative patient at MSH, Christine got chatting with a patient flow coordinator and was excited to learn that they had a job posting. Now, after eight years at MSH as a patient flow coordinator, Christine is a full year into a new position as clinical leader at the Uxbridge site, a position she helped establish. She has hit the ground running in her new role, managing everything from day-today activities, the movement of patients between the Uxbridge and Markham sites, scheduling, facilitating family meetings, and working through changes in the way health services are delivered at the hospital through a new model of care. Every day is a busy day and Christine loves it. She thrives

on being involved in everything and strives to be, “visible on the floor, with her door always open.” Christine couldn’t be happier with her “work family,” saying the whole staff is very collaborative and kind, and the hospital is homey. She is thoroughly enjoying the move to Uxbridge, which is a smaller facility. “The community here is closely linked to the hospital,” she says. Christine is sensitive to patients and families who are struggling, and is invariably “the first to go to them.” Families often tell her she is very sincere, welcoming and available — and that feedback is encouraging to her. She adds that her personal experience with her own father’s illness and passing have helped her grow as a nurse, heightening her awareness of what patients and their families are going through, having been there herself. Meeting each patient in their time of need and helping them through their circumstances is vital to her role. “Understanding is big,” says Christine. Fortunately, for MSH patients she seems to have an infinite supply.

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018



“THE ENERGIZER” Dr. Simon Yang General and oncologic surgeon


r. Simon Yang has no shortage of energy. He thrives on being busy and as a surgeon, loves that he, “never has a typical day.” He chose general surgery because he relishes the variety, and feels that the opportunity to get to know patients is as unparalleled as it is rewarding. In short, he’s busy and that makes him feel fortunate. Dr. Yang has been on staff at MSH for five years, after a temporary position and residency at the hospital. For him, MSH is a family affair — in more ways than one. His wife was already at the hospital, practising as a family doctor. And since Dr. Yang’s arrival two of his three children were born at MSH, which makes him feel even more a part of the community. Dr. Yang deeply appreciates the diversity of the community — one that’s in constant flux. He sees a mix of older residents and newcomers to


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

the area, noting that, “the patient demographic is shifting.” As a first-generation Canadian, Dr. Yang can readily relate to recent immigrants because he has a firsthand understanding of what many of them might be experiencing. It’s all about building a new life. “Markham is a vibrant and young community,” he says, “with many young families looking to put down roots and establish themselves.” He speaks passionately of past and current patients, and the lengths he and the team go to ensure they get the highest quality care. Dr. Yang initially came to MSH, he says, because of the staff and their culture here. His instincts have been proven right on a daily basis. It is an environment where team members truly embrace diversity, demonstrate compassion and mutually support one another and that is why he has happily stayed.


“THE MAN ON THE MOVE” Shafic Kara Volunteer


ou can’t work here without a big smile.” That’s the advice veteran volunteer Shafic Kara first imparts to every new volunteer he trains. Shafic speaks from experience. Since 2010 he has been working two six-hour volunteer shifts a week at MSH. He says one of his main jobs is to welcome patients. And that requires some serious focus. “You have to leave your personal life [at home].” Shafic has done countless community volunteering since 1979, and is a long-time blood donor. Upon retiring in 2010 he suddenly found he had much more time to give. It was his daughter, an occupational therapist, who helped launch his MSH volunteer career: she signed him up to serve without telling him — and he just knew he couldn’t say ‘no.’ He certainly has no regrets about the surprise sign-up. “I’m still young and blessed to have my health,” says the 76-yearold, “so I will keep serving as long as my two feet move.” He divides his time at the

hospital between the outpatient clinics and Emergency Department. Shafic spends his days greeting patients and ensuring they are being taken care of. He approaches each patient with empathy, senstitiviy and understanding. Shafic says a big part of his day is, “making sure everyone is OK, and keeping the atmosphere a bit lively.” Shafic says the satisfaction he gets from volunteering at MSH is more than he ever experienced during his career because he loves serving the community. And serve he does. He says he walks more than three kilometres in an average shift — he’s clocked it. “It’s never the same day,” he says. “There is always something new.” A resident of Markham since 1982, Shafic remembers the smaller hospital pre-expansion, and is, “an ardent supporter,” of the new one. “The whole hospital has a culture of welcoming patients,” he says. So he has made it his personal mission to make every patient comfortable. Every step of the way.

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018


a life saved | VAWN HIMMELSBACH


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

The journey of a young woman cured of a rare, debilitating disease


he was the rarest of the rare and the worst of the worst. It’s every mother’s nightmare to hear those words about her child. Halloween of 2016 is a memorable one for Meredith MacNaughton. It was the night her then-20-year-old daughter, Ashlin, was admitted to MSH with undiagnosed — and terrifying — symptoms. It all started a few weeks earlier, in late September. Ashlin was in her fourth year at the University of Waterloo, when she started to experience confusion, dizziness and numbness. “I didn’t know what was going on, which was not normal for me at all — to not even know how to use a bus route,” says Ashlin. At first she attributed it to midterm stress, and then she started getting lost around campus. One day she became so disoriented she called her mom in tears because she couldn’t remember how to get home. Meredith rushed her to MSH where they ran test after test, including full blood work, an MRI scan, a CT scan and even a lumbar puncture, but nothing was out of the ordinary. Meanwhile, Ashlin’s symptoms worsened. She started showing signs of psychosis and losing the ability to speak, slurring her words and saying things that didn’t make sense.

Meredith urged Emergency Department staff to have Ashlin admitted on that fateful Halloween day. Within the first 72 hours of being hospitalized, Ashlin deteriorated rapidly, experiencing a code blue cardiac arrest, so she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while her doctors continued to search for a diagnosis. “She was tested for everything you can possibly think of under the sun,” says Meredith. And, after 12 excruciating days, Ashlin’s care team finally had a diagnosis. Dr. David Kim had never seen a case like this. Her symptoms led him to believe she had Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis, a rare neurological auto-immune disease often associated with non-cancerous tumours on the ovaries. The tests (done in an experimental lab downtown) came back positive — it was the first case ever diagnosed at MSH, which Dr. Kim attributes to the efforts of Ashlin’s entire care team. “The body is producing antibodies against itself,” says Dr. Kim. “Your immune system is supposed to be protecting you, and normally it does a good job, [but in this case] it turns on itself by mistake.” He compares the body’s immune system to a country’s police or military: “If they’re corrupt, if there’s a sleeper agent, there’s chaos within the country.” That’s what was happening in Ashlin’s

Ashlin Peaker, grateful patient Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018



They were incredible because they treated us like family

brain and body. “The symptoms unfortunately can start insidiously and mimic a lot more common conditions initially, so it’s usually misdiagnosed,” he says. It may start with flu-like symptoms, which — as antibodies attack the brain — turn into cognitive problems and psychosis, hallucinations and delirium. The patient starts to lose motor abilities and speech, as receptors key for learning and memory are attacked. Since the brain is overstimulated, this leads to seizures, and eventually the patient goes into a comatose state. As Ashlin continued to deteriorate, Dr. Kim and the ICU team made the tough decision to have Ashlin air-lifted to a downtown hospital. “The doctor [there] said she’s the rarest of the rare and the worst of the worst,” says Meredith. “We were told to prepare for Ashlin to not make it, that she’s not responding to any of the treatments.” The disease is often linked to a tumour in the ovaries, and though they couldn’t find any indication of a tumour, they re-

Ashlin Peaker and Norma Clarke, Unit Secretary, ICU

moved her ovaries as a precaution. In less than 48 hours, Ashlin started to respond, and by Dec. 13 she was stable enough to return to the ICU at MSH. But she still had a long and painful road ahead of her. She was being fed through a tube, still having seizures, and had to relearn everything: “She was like an infant, she couldn’t walk, talk, eat, shower,” says Meredith. Ashlin spent more than six months in hospital, close to half that in the ICU at MSH under the care of what Meredith describes as “the most incredible medical team who ultimately became family.” There were 85 MSH staff mem-

THE ART OF LIFE This illustration, which prominently adorns the Intensive Care Unit’s entrance, is the creation of Ashlin Peaker, a visual artist who survived a rare neurological auto-immune disease. It’s the perfect reminder that heroes pass by each and every day.


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

bers — from nurses and therapists to social workers and support staff — who touched Ashlin’s life. Though Ashlin was discharged on March 3, 2017, it took until March 2018 to be given the all-clear; she regained her memory, shortly after leaving MSH. She’s now working as a supervisor at Tim Horton’s and returning to university to study accounting so she can work alongside her mom, who has her own accounting practice. Ashlin has no memory of her time at MSH, but she’s incredibly grateful to everyone there who helped her. In fact, she returned with her mother to thank everyone personally and present them with a superhero collage she had drawn. It now hangs in the front entrance of the ICU. “They were incredible because they treated us like family,” says Meredith. “They always had a bed set up for me if I wanted to stay overnight. They were so accommodating, going above and beyond what I would have ever expected.” The silver lining in all of this? “If our story can help one person,” she says, “it puts a purpose behind it.”

Enjoy life. Bring your best smile with you! Retirement used to mean rocking on the porch and counting away the years…but not anymore! Seniors today are enjoying healthy, active lifestyles that their ancestors would envy. Baby Boomers are traveling far and wide and loving all that life has to offer. Hiking, biking, camping, traveling; a life spent eating well and exercising means that the new senior can participate in all these things. In order to get the most out of this golden time it is critical that the healthy senior get

modern dentistry that supports their lifestyle. Old school dentures and bridges don’t hold up to an active lifestyle and longer lives mean teeth can often use a little help. Dental technology has changed to offer permanent, strong, beautiful solutions to removable partials and dentures. Teeth that can bite and chew and are ready in a day. When choosing a dental office, seniors should look for one that is using cutting edge technologies such as 3D imaging and CBCT scans. Having all

dental services available in one place saves time and money to spend on the better things in life. If dentures suit your budget and lifestyle, remember that times have changed. Find a denturist who uses modern techniques and materials; one who takes the time to do a full smile assessment and who stands behind their work. You will love what they can do for your smile! These are the good years. Smile! Enjoy them!

WE SPEAK English, Chinese, Arabic, French, Hindi, Punjabi Dr. James Ko

Dr. Rob Eisen

Dr. Amir Guorgui

Dr. Yara Aldabbagh

Dr. Amit Makkar

At the SMILE CENTRE, we are dedicated to helping our patients look and feel their absolute best. We provide the most advanced family, cosmetic and implant dentistry in a relaxed and comfortable environment. We are pleased to offer two locations to serve you in the Markham area.

Costa Nassar, DD


WE PROVIDE • Dentistry for all ages • Sleep dentistry



377 Church St., Markham

1 Raymerville Dr., Markham

• Same day dental implants • Cosmetic dentistry • Invisalign • Tooth whitening • Wisdom teeth extraction • Dentures & implant dentures We bill directly to your insurance! Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018


SYLVIA MORRIS Sales Representative & Heritage Home Specialist

#14 Team in Canada for Century 21 Canada for 2017


60 Main Street N, Unit #9 | Markham, ON

Our orthopaedic surgical program is expanding to provide world-class surgical care right here in your community: total joint surgery same-day joint surgery (knees and hips) back and spine surgery

YOGA & MEDITATION OASIS YOGA & MEDITATION York Region’s smallest yoga OASIS studio YOGA & MEDITATION York Region’s smallest yoga OASIS studio York Region’s smallest yoga studio YOGA & MEDITATION OASIS Region’s•smallest studio CherylYork Ward Maximum yoga 9 students per class Cheryl Ward • Maximum 9 students class • Care and attention toper individual Cheryl Ward Maximum 9 students class • needs Care and attention toper individual


Care and attention to individual • needs Serene studio setting • Maximum 9 students per class • Serene setting • needs Servingstudio Markham Village since 2006 PRIMORDIAL SOUND • Care and attention to individual • Serving Serene studio Markham setting Village since 2006 MEDITATION INSTRUCTOR needs • Serving Markham Village since 2006 Mention this ad and your• first class is onsetting the house! Serene studio Mention ad and your• first classMarkham is on theVillage house!since 2006 (Class must this be pre-booked) Serving (Class must this be pre-booked) Mention ad and your first class is on the house! MEDITATIONWard INSTRUCTOR Cheryl E-RYT,

(Class must be pre-booked) 905-294-1813 • 905-294-1813 • Mention this ad and your first class is on the house! (Class must be pre-booked) 905-294-1813 •

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We have some of the lowest surgical wait times in Ontario Talk to your family doctor for a referral, visit or contact our orthopaedic patient navigator at 905-472-7373 ext. 6105 or




TRUST YOUR HEARING TO US At Markham Hearing Centre, we help protect the sounds that matter most to you! Why Choose Us? • Hearing Assessment for All Ages • 90 Day FREE Hearing Aid Trial • Ear, nose and throat doctor on-site • Newest Technology from all manufacturers • Patient Satisfaction Guarantee

Premium Product Promotion on Now • Discreet hearing aids with clearer, rich sound • Easy connection to all Bluetooth devices • Automatic adjustment to your environment • Rechargeable options available Located just south of the Hospital with Free Parking.

Call and Schedule your Appointment Today!

905.471.4479 110 Copper Creek Dr., Suite 105, Markham, Ontario

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Shakir Rehmatullah

Shakir Rehmatullah and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Suzette Strong, CEO, MSHF and Allan Bell, VP Community Relations & Corporate Partnerships, MSHF

Shakir Rehmatullah with children Usman, Eshal and Ayana

Shakir Rehmatullah

(L-R) Suzette Strong, CEO, MSHF, Jo-anne Marr, CEO MSH, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Shakir Rehmatullah, President & Founder of Flato Developments Inc. with children Ayana, Usman, and Eshal, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Samir Dossal, President, Canada Pakistan Business Council, Khalid Usman, Ward 7 Councillor, City of Markham

Local cancer care gets a generous boost Newly named clinic will support growing need in the community


During medical school, Dr. Leena Hajra had no interest in oncology. It wasn’t until she started her mandatory oncology rotation that everything changed. “I was instantaneously turned around. It was like a calling,” she says. “The patients exuded an inner strength and courage that was truly inspiring. It was a symbiotic relationship — as I treated patients, I was learning from them how to live better.” When Dr. Hajra graduated in 2010, MSH was a natural fit for her, with its emphasis on patient care rather than research. As soon as she walked through the doors and met Dr. Henry Solow, the only on-staff oncologist at the time, she knew she was home. “As cliché as it sounds, I immediately felt like I was part of a bigger family. Everybody was striving for excellence in individualized patient care and really treating the patient as a person,” says Dr. Hajra. With a chemotherapy clinic, breast

health centre, colon health services and radiation consultation services, as well as an interdisciplinary team of medical practitioners, MSH focuses on providing patients with the care that they need, close to home. Dr. Mateya Trinkaus says its size is part of what allows MSH to excel in a discipline of medicine that increasingly emphasizes practising personalized care. “It’s a smaller cancer centre by today’s standards, but that’s also our strength. At MSH, we know our patients by their names, their stories and their families. It’s really individualized care, which is what you need in oncology these days,” says Dr. Trinkaus, who joined the team in 2011. “Anybody can prescribe a drug, but it’s finding the best fit for each patient, and prescribing it so the patient has a good quality of life.” However, as our community continues to grow rapidly, so too do the demands on MSH’s oncology department. Each year, the hospital experiences a 12 per cent increase in new oncology consults, while the chemotherapy chairs are full, treating up to 50 patients daily. Already,

the program is beginning to outgrow its new expanded space from 2014. “We are somewhat overloaded with referrals. We’re struggling to provide the same level of care to each patient in an individualized manner with a comprehensive approach and to give patients the time they need,” says Dr. Hajra. It’s been donor support that has allowed MSH to keep up with the demands. In 2017-18, $162,000 was raised for cancer care, supporting the development of a pain and symptom management clinic, as well as the purchase of 14 oncology chairs. Now, a seven-figure donation by Shakir Rehmatullah will help to enhance the oncology department, while supporting many priority needs across the hospital. The founder and president of Flato Developments Inc., a builder and land developer of commercial and residential communities, Shakir understands firsthand the need for personalized care during cancer treatment. About 18 years ago, while he was a studying architectural engineering at the University of Miami, he received a call — his father had been diagnosed

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018


Shakir Rehmatullah unveils exterior recognition signage with dignitaries, family and friends

with cancer. Shakir flew home to Toronto and a month later his father passed away. But in his loss, Shakir gained perspective. “Growing up, I had always watched my father contributing to and supporting local charities and hospitals. This was his passion. So I said, ‘One of these days, I want to support a hospital by contributing in some way,’” he recalls. Since then, Shakir has also donated to the Flato Markham Theatre, the Varley Art Gallery of Markham and sports teams such as Markham Thunder. “When I build a community, I don’t just believe in buying a piece of property and putting 500 homes on it and my job is done. Our corporate mandate is to be thinking about building a community which includes providing theatres, parks and hospitals,” he says. This fall, MSH hosted a celebration to recognize this monumental donation, and proudly unveiled The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic. Ontario Premier Doug Ford along with many national, provincial and municipal dignitaries, including Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, were present to honour Shakir’s tremendous generosity. Hospital staff, physicians and patients were also onhand to celebrate the extraordinary gift. While the money will support the hospital as a whole — including the purchase of medical equipment, technology updates and development of patient care programs — it will also fund the oncology department’s patient care initiatives. The pain and symptom management clinic, 24

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

for example, provides support for patients who are living with cancer as a chronic disease. In its first year, 93 per cent of patients reported improved pain management thanks to the care they received.

We are truly honoured and proud to name the clinic in recognition of Shakir’s support

This innovative program is supported 100 per cent by donations and funding from the MSH Foundation. But there’s still plenty more work to be done. There’s a need for a peer-support program, better after-hours support services, dietitian services, enhanced

palliative care, an expanded clinical trials program, and even translation/ interpretation services for the diverse community that MSH serves. “Community donors like Shakir allow us to go that extra mile,” says Dr. Trinkaus. “It ensures we can continue to deliver above-standard care, whether that means ordering high-tech pathology machines, or even something as little as supporting a nurse going to a conference.” For Dr. Hajra’s part, she expects that MSH will continue to deliver the patient-based care it always has. Over the last nine years, she’s seen countless examples of staff and even patients going above and beyond for one another: The nurse who prepared take-home meals for a patient’s family for six months or the recovered patient who drives an hour, and volunteers to keep others company while undergoing chemo. “The patient care here is second-tonone. We really get to know the person’s hardships, barriers to care and fears of treatment, and really strive together to overcome these obstacles. The relationships that we build at MSH are really unique because they’re so personalized,” she says. “We are truly honoured and proud to name the clinic in recognition of Shakir’s support. He exemplifies giving back, making a difference and helping one another in your own community, which are the cornerstones on which MSH oncology is based.”


34th Annual

G LF Tournament

Thank You to our Supporters 13 YEARS PRESENTING SPONSOR


Gold Sponsors


Dinner Sponsor





Frank & Freda Spain






Bachra Insurance Agency Ltd.

Corporate Sponsors Agfa HealthCare Inc. All-Risks Insurance Brokers Limited Ben’s Pharmacy Cushman & Wakefield Ltd. Grote Industries Co. Ledgemark Homes Lifetime Developments Markham District Energy Inc. OHE Consultants Optimum Talent RBC Royal Bank TD Commercial Banking Teknicor Healthcare The Milestone Group Wilson Vukelich LLP

Wine Sponsor TACC Developments Volunteer Sponsor Tim Hortons Markham and Stouffville Restaurant Owners Event Sponsors Buckley Insurance Information Builders PAR-Med Property Services Inc. The Crupi Group Car Hole-in-One Sponsors Don Valley North Lexus Don Valley North Toyota Town+Country Volkswagen

$10,000 Hole-in-One Sponsor Bachra Insurance Agency Ltd. / The Co-operators Tournament Supporters ARG Bill Bachra Frances DiCarlo Frank & Freda Spain Industrial Alliance Insurance & Financial Services Inc. SDA Vanguard (Canada Cartage) Media Partners Markham Economist & Sun and Stouffville Sun-Tribune

Golf Ball Sponsor The Octagon Steakhouse Beverage Sponsors Coca-Cola Labatt Breweries of Canada Lifford Wine & Spirits Molson Coors Moosehead PepsiCo Profile Wine Group

...and a special thank you to all who contributed to our prizes, gifts, live and silent auctions.

Mark Your Calendar for 2019 • Monday, August 12

For photos visit

A new MSH arrival in a Bear Necessity soft sleep sack

COMFORT AND JOY Bear Necessities campaign brings happiness, inspiration and impact | JACLYN TERSIGNI


hen you’re spending time in a hospital bed, recovering from an illness or injury, it’s often the smallest gestures that can bring the most comfort. Like the gift of a teddy bear. At MSH, teddy bears are an impactful gift for patients — and for the hospital itself. In 2016, the hospital launched the Buy a Bear campaign. For $50, friends and family of MSH patients or caring hospital supporters can buy a stuffed toy for a patient, 26

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

and the funds are used to purchase life-saving equipment not covered by government funding. In its first year, the program raised $30,000. In 2017, 1,400 bears were purchased, generating a whopping $70,000 for equipment purchases. The campaign has evolved in 2018 to include additional “Bear Necessities” and now offers sleep sacks for newborns and cozy adult-sized blankets, along with the original teddy bears. The items can be purchased in the hospital’s gift shop or online at And these furry friends are making a real difference.






It was in the hospital lobby that Jacob Tzogas (pictured above) first caught wind of the program. He was there visiting his grandmother Maureen, who was receiving chemotherapy treatment. Jacob, just eight years old, wanted to do something nice for his Nanny. He asked his mother, Laura, if they could buy her a teddy bear . But Jacob didn’t stop there. He decided to raise money for the Buy a Bear campaign and enlisted the help of his grade-three friends at Markham’s Cornell Village Public School to design and sell friendship bracelets. Their efforts managed to raise $500. Sadly, Nanny Maureen passed away in March. Neither she nor her teddy will be forgotten. As a tribute to Maureen, Jacob and his family recently brought “Nanny Bear” on a road trip to one of Maureen’s favourite places: Disney World.

“Three years ago, Dylan experienced a severe asthma attack that hospitalized him overnight. Now he sees Dr. Bola, a paediatric respirologist, every three months. Dylan was overjoyed when he received a bear. Moments before he received it, he was upset because he had to stop playing in order for a nurse to examine him. His face lit up when presented with the stuffed animal. He still sleeps with his bear from time to time, and loves to tell the story of when he received it and how he got his picture taken by the hospital staff. Seeing your child’s face light up when receiving a stuffed animal at a place they find scary, such as a hospital, is priceless.” — Chantal Appleton

“I’m a little old for a teddy bear, but receiving one made my day a very happy one. My first visit to MSH was in 1998; I came with my mom when she had her knees replaced. This year it was my turn to get my knee replaced. From the time I walked through the doors, everyone I’ve dealt with was so friendly and accommodating. I felt I was past the teddy bear years, but everyone needs a bear hug once in a while! The people who buy these bears are very kind and loving folks to want to give joy to children and older patients. A big thank you. My new knee is ticking along beautifully.” — Maggie McDonald


30,000 raised


600 bears delivered


70,000 raised


1,400 bears delivered

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018



STRIDING FORWARD Same-day joint replacement surgery leading the way Dr. Evan Watts, orthopaedic surgeon


uestion: What costs more than $1 billion each year and requires about 594,000 days’ worth of hospital stays? Answer: Hip and knee replacement surgeries. More than 123,000 joint replacement surgeries took place in Canada in 2016 and 2017, at an average cost of $9,100 per surgery. Beyond the associated price tag, these inpatient surgeries come at a cost for patients, too: laying in a hospital bed, they’re more susceptible to infection and their return to everyday living is delayed. Things are beginning to change. Helping lead the charge is MSH and its newly instated same-day joint replacement program. Using minimally invasive techniques, new modes of ad28

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

ministering anaesthesia and a dedicated at-home recovery plan, the program will see patients return home within hours, not days, of having their knee or hip replacement procedures. “We have aspirations to offer more surgeries to more people, although our biggest goal is to try to improve the patient experience,” says Dr. Evan Watts, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in knee and hip replacement. He joined MSH in July, tasked with initiating the same-day surgery program. “In my opinion, people eat better, sleep better and they recover better at home. It also decreases the risks of complications associated with being in a hospital.” When a surgery that previously required a hospital stay of two or three days becomes an outpatient surgery, some skepticism — Is it safe? Is this simply a cost-reducing measure? — is

expected. But, Dr. Watts explains, the same-day model is simply an improvement upon previous methods, based on decades of research on operative techniques and pre- and postoperative care. Surgeons at MSH are trained in muscle-sparing techniques that reduce the amount of trauma to muscle and tissue, which helps aid patient recovery, especially early on in the postoperative period. Anaesthesiologists play a crucial role as well, meticulously planning the form and dosage of anaesthesia so that it offers an appropriate level of pain management without inducing high levels of nausea and immobility (often the cause of longer stays in hospital). “Historically, if we look back at the early days, people were admitted the night before and they were staying for a week in hospital,” Dr. Watts says. “Really what we’ve done is perfected that process.”


We have aspirations to offer more surgeries to more people

Potential patients are first seen at MSH’s Rapid Assessment Centre, where they receive a physician consultation within two weeks of getting a referral from their family doctor. Then comes an extensive assessment to establish whether they’re candidates for surgery, same-day or otherwise. Not every patient is eligible for same-day joint replacement; if an individual is elderly, has limited support at home and/ or additional health issues, a postsurgical hospital stay may be required. Ahead of their surgery, patients participate in an education class, where they learn about the hospital, the procedure, pain management and physiotherapy: this is an opportunity for patients to have their concerns and questions addressed. They’re also equipped with a comprehensive take-home guide about both the surgery and recovery. Once home, Dr. Watts checks in on the patient by phone. They also have access to an outpatient clinic, by phone or in-person visit, where a nurse practitioner can address any questions or concerns. Throughout the process, from preoperative through to postoperative, patients will have a dedicated ally to help guide them through their experience at MSH. That person is Maria Caruso, a nurse and MSH’s orthopaedic patient navigator. “My role is to give the patients the best possible experience through their surgical journey,” Maria says. “I become their

support and a constant point of contact throughout their experience with us. It’s to ensure that they have a seamless transition from the hospital back home once their surgery is done.” In an overburdened healthcare system, where patients may often feel isolated, Maria is a trusted confidante. The first patient in MSH’s same-day joint replacement surgery program underwent a successful total knee replacement on November 5. The hospital, which typically performs about 800 total joint surgeries annually and has the second lowest surgical wait time for knee replacements in Ontario, expects that the same-day model will help improve access for those needing surgeries and will enhance the overall experience. “We’re providing the best patient care and putting patients in a setting where we know that they’ll be

safe. We’re decreasing costs while still maintaining the safety of their care and most importantly, removing them from potential risk factors,” Maria says. “At the same time, the hospital is being more efficient…reducing wait times for patients.” For Dr. Watts, knowing that sameday surgeries can help expedite wait times for other patients who may be struggling with chronic pain and limited mobility is especially rewarding. “If we can decrease the costs associated with joint replacement, then we are able to offer more surgeries to more people within our community,” he says. “It’s fantastic.” Dr. Watts is currently accepting new patients for total joint replacement. To obtain a referral form for your family physician visit: and search ‘Watts.’

Joint effort

Community members learn about the importance of joint health There’s no undervaluing the importance of good joint health. Although they’re not often a focal point when it comes to health and wellness, our joints play a crucial role in our overall well-being. Protecting joints helps them last longer and avoid problems such as arthritis, bursitis and possible dislocations. And, if not properly cared for, joints can become susceptible to inflammatory diseases as well as general dislocations. “We all need to keep our joints healthy because that’s what keeps us moving and allows us to do all those things in life we love to do. ” says Tracie Scott, Director of Surgical Services at MSH. To that end, an open-invitation event focusing on joint health was recently hosted by the hospital. The October event is part of an educational series designed to highlight different areas of care at MSH and engage the community to learn more about its

MSH surgical team

programs and services. With orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Koo as emcee, the evening was an opportunity for attendees to hear firsthand about joint health from several of the hospital’s physicians and specialists. Topics included general joint health and the orthopaedic surgical journey by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. J. Stephen McMahon; an interactive presentation of exercises by physiotherapist Wesley Wong; and insights into how to manage chronic joint pain by Kim Adel, an advanced practice nurse specializing in pain management. Also on hand was Dr. Evan Watts, who answered questions about MSH’s new, same-day joint replacement surgery. Guests were intrigued by an interactive Stryker table that featured sample implants they could see, touch and ask questions about. “These events are so impactful because they provide meaningful information to our community,” says Tracie. For more information on future events please visit

Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018


BRAIN WAVES Innovative device-based treatment at MSH aiding mental health | JESSICA WYNNE LOCKHART


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation



Deborah Rotta-Loria, grateful patient

or Deborah Rotta-Loria, sometimes even the simple act of making dinner for her family was too much to bear. “I remember sitting on the kitchen floor and I couldn’t stop crying,” she says. Yet, less than 24 hours later, she would be unstoppable. Her kids called it her “CEO mode”— one where she was articulate, energetic and capable of anything. For Deborah, her life was a constant battle between the two extremes. She describes it as “like living between the floor and the ceiling,” where she was constantly bouncing between the two. After 17 years of being misdiagnosed, it wasn’t until she was referred to Dr. Rus Sethna, MSH’s Chief of Psychiatry, that everything changed. It didn’t take long for him to diagnose her with rapid cycling bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by mood swings that are random and unpredictable, the cycling may occur monthly or weekly. With the proper medication and treatment, Deborah was finally able to close the amount of space between the “floor and ceiling.”

“It gave me a whole new life,” she says. Deborah is far from alone. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, as many as one in five Canadians will suffer from a mental health condition in 2019. At MSH alone, there’s an annual increase of 12 to 16 per cent in patient demand for inpatient and outpatient mental health programs, reflecting the needs of the rapidly growing community. However, too often a diagnosis isn’t always a cure. “There are many patients out there who are not living their optimal lives, partially because their medication or treatment therapies are not enough,” says Janet Wilson, Director of Mental Health Services. That’s why, with the philanthropic support of Deborah, MSH added one more treatment option to its services. Starting in early 2019, MSH will be the first community hospital in Ontario to offer Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), a non-invasive device-based treatment. During the outpatient procedure, patients sit in a recliner chair while wearing a custom-fit cap. Physicians direct a series of short magnetic pulses to localized areas of the brain to stimulate nerve cells. Healthy.Together. Fall/Winter 2018



L-R Samantha Rainbow, Child and Youth Counsellor, Deborah Rotta-Loria and Megan DeFinney, Child and Youth Counsellor

Each session lasts for 20 to 40 minutes, with approximately 30 sessions needed to treat conditions such as depression or auditory hallucinations (in individuals with schizophrenia). This can also be used to treat neurological conditions, such as migraines or Parkinson’s disease. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), no anaesthesia or recovery time is needed, and the treatment is not invasive. And unlike prescription medication, there are no unwanted side effects or risk of patient error. “It’s basically brain electrical stimulation without any electrodes attached to the brain,” explains Dr. Sethna. “We wanted to be ahead of the curve in providing patients with treatment options, especially when they’re not responding to antidepressants.” It’s not the first time that MSH has demonstrated leading care and innovation in mental health. With a focus on evidence-based therapy, educational events and community initiatives, Janet says, “MSH excels at providing individualized treatment plans.” In addition to a team of multi-disciplinary practitioners — including psychiatrists, child and youth counsellors and recreational therapists — the hospital offers holistic programs, such as yoga, music and art therapy. Under-served populations are also a focus, which is of particular importance for the diverse Markham commu32

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

nity. For example, through the ATLAS (Adolescent Treatment and Learning Alternative Service) program, teens struggling with depression or anxiety are able to receive classroom instruc-

It gave me a whole new life tion and therapy simultaneously. This program is expanding to offer classes all year long to help even more teens in our community. MSH also recently opened a women’s wellness clinic to support women’s health by providing adjunct therapies

to improve quality of life. Using different methods, the clinic aims to improve women’s sense of personal wellbeing, strengthen focus, calm and mental flexibility, manage difficult emotions, promote self-awareness and distinguish healthy from unhealthy coping. But while an increase in patient volume may indicate that people are becoming more open to discussing mental health, there’s still plenty of work to be done. “Stigma is still real and alive,” says Janet. That has been Deborah’s experience. “People think, ‘You have a great supportive family and you don’t have a lot of worries.’ But I may spend a week in bed and the one thing I get done is brush my teeth,” she says. “I didn’t really want anyone to know.” For Deborah, supporting the purchase of the rTMS wasn’t just about the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of people’s lives — it was also about reducing stigma and barriers to treatment. “If you have diabetes, then people know you take insulin. If you have a kidney condition, you go on dialysis. But with mental illness, it’s difficult to see,” Deborah says. “This machine is tangible and I think that’s something people can relate to.” For MSH, it’s a treatment that wouldn’t be possible without Deborah’s donation. “Things like rTMS, the ATLAS Program and the women’s wellness clinic would just be dreams for community hospitals if it wasn’t for donors,” says Dr. Sethna. “Donors make the lives of those in our local community that much more liveable. They’re an integral part of the care provided at the hospital.” For Deborah though, it was an obvious way to say thanks to the place that gave her back her life and express gratitude to her caregivers. “MSH, as a community hospital, is cutting-edge,” she says. “I would not have considered going anywhere else. Even during the very difficult times, I felt it was the place to be. When you have a mental illness, you need a place you feel safe when you feel out of control or alone. I’ve had that at Markham Stouffville Hospital.” “With mental illness, it isn’t a one-shot intervention,” says Dr. Sethna. “We’re there for both the good and bad times. These things aren’t things to be feared, but they are things to be conquered — and we’re part of that solution.”