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Injured BMX star resumes flight pg.16

Rewards of giving back


Stroke care, close to home pg.24

Power of community pg.13

Skin deep pg.26

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

CONTENTS NEWS & COMMUNITY 4  M  SH NEWS What’s new at MSH and in our community 8  M  SH HEROES Recognizing the heroic accomplishments of our MSH family 29 MARK  YOUR CALENDAR Upcoming events and fundraisers to add to your schedule 30 COMMUNITY  EVENTS Your community, your hospital, your support 32 A  LASTING IMPACT The meaning of becoming a legacy donor at MSH

FEATURES 13 T  HE POWER OF YOUR GENEROSITY A glimpse of the incredible impact donations make 21 THE GREATEST GIFT How a grateful patient continues to give back 24 B  ACK TO LIFE Integrated Stroke Unit brings care close to home 26 SAVING SKIN The multidisciplinary skin cancer clinic launches



16 ON TRACK After a career-threatening injury, Colson Bates, a local BMX star gets back on his bike – with help from MSH


MAMMA MIA! The Gala and the SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women Nancy and Lloyd Robertson, Canadian Broadcast Journalist at MAMMA MIA! The Gala Photo: Tim Fraser


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Cover photo: Tim Fraser





CONTRIBUTORS Vawn Himmelsbach, Dick Snyder EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Sarah Moore MANAGING DIRECTOR CONTENT SOLUTIONS + STRATEGY Marcus Strong PROJECT MANAGERS Cheryl Andrews, Olya Lawryshyn, Caitlin Moorcroft PHOTOGRAPHER Tim Fraser MARKHAM STOUFFVILLE HOSPITAL, EDITORIAL ADVISORS Madeline Cuadra, Yeena Peng, Suzette Strong VICE PRESIDENT SALES, STAR METROLAND MEDIA Steve Shrout PUBLISHER Star Metroland Media PRINT & INSERTING SALES MANAGER, STAR METROLAND MEDIA Robert Wildbore ADVERTISING SALES Madeline Cuadra, 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 2019. 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 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.

Dear Friends, Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) is much more than a world-class healthcare facility. It’s a dynamic community. And it simply could not exist without its staff, physicians and volunteers – the dedicated people who work every day to provide an extraordinary patient experience. Our bold, new Strategic Plan Care beyond our walls focuses on extending that vision outside the physical hospital and into the broader community. The plan will see us strengthen our partnerships with community service organizations and primary care physicians to create a seamless and simple transition from hospital to home. And central to that plan – and indeed our overall vision – is our people. After all, healthcare is an industry focused on people. Providing an extraordinary patient experience means that our people must live by our core values of respect, trust, commitment, compassion and courage. These values are embodied in the work of our people as well as embedded in the way they approach their work: it’s what our Mission is all about – ensuring an ‘honoured to care’ culture at MSH. As leaders, we are proud to work at MSH and inspired by our people every day. We are grateful they choose to work here and honoured to work alongside them. At the core of our community, of course, is generosity – donations of time and dollars. At the MSH Foundation, we believe that expressing gratitude by making monetary donations is a very tangible and meaningful way for patients and their families to give back. And that generosity is needed more than ever. Healthcare philanthropy is one of the largest sources of funding for Ontario hospitals. Hospitals increasingly rely on their foundation partners to raise funds to support life-saving equipment, cutting-edge medical tech­nologies and strategic priorities that enable growth and innovation. Fundraising is a high-touch business about human interaction rooted in trust and respect. People give to people. Bringing these themes together is the primary purpose of the MSH Foundation. In fact, our vision is to earn the generous support of every member of our community. We do this through such initiatives as the MSH Heroes – our grateful patient program, which provides our patients with a meaningful way to express gratitude to their caregivers for what they do every single day. It’s that spirit of caring that we seek to capture in the pages of Healthy.Together. Markham.StouffvilleTM. And we hope you’re inspired by what our patients, donors, doctors, staff and volunteers share in this edition. This is our community, and these are our stories.

Suzette Strong, CEO, Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Jo-anne Marr, President & CEO, Markham Stouffville Hospital Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019





We love hearing from our community. Tell us about your experience and why you love MSH. @MSHospital

MSH TURNS 29! It was March 5, 1990 when MSH first opened its doors to the community and a lot has changed in the 29 years since. We’ve grown from a one site hospital to two sites, opened the Reactivation Care Centre, and we completed a major expansion and renovation project at our Markham site. Our team has also grown to over 2,300 staff, more than 500 physicians, 1,200 volunteers and 25 midwives. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the generous support from the community – started by Art Latcham’s donation of land to build the original hospital – that continues to enable the exceptional care our patients and their families count on us for. Bring on the next 29 years!

Staff from The Stollery Family Centre for Childbirth & Children

FORTUNE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL RAISES $500,000 In February, MSH Foundation’s Fortune Leadership Council (FLC) announced its $500,000 gift at its annual Chinese New Year luncheon. In recognition of this generosity, MSH proudly unveiled the outpatient paediatric clinic waiting room in honour of FLC. Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti is the Honourary Chair for this network of Chinese business and community leaders, and under the leadership of Co-Chairs, Alan Kwong and Kenny Wan, they achieved this goal in three years thanks to the generosity of 25 donors. “We came together for a common mission – to give back to the


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

MSH’s Fortune Leadership Council

community and to sustain quality healthcare at MSH,” says Kenny, Board Director, MSH Foundation. “We achieved our goal because of the generosity of many in our business community. I challenge other business and community leaders to join us in expanding our fundraising efforts.” FLC’s commitment will not end with this gift. The next $500,000 pledge has already been confirmed to continue its support of the hospital and to help purchase life-saving medical

equipment and critical technology to enable exceptional patient care, close to home. “My family and I know from personal experience how important MSH is for our community and the compassionate care the doctors and nurses provide every day,” says Alan, Board Director, MSH Foundation. “I hope that the FLC initiative is an inspiration to others in the Chinese community to support MSH, so we can continue to make a lasting impact.”



MRI technician Maria Delchev with patient Marlene Galloway

REDUCING MRI WAIT TIMES Thanks to the generosity of our community, we upgraded one of our MRI magnets in February 2019. While this MRI unit was out of service, we used a MRI mobile unit to provide continuous service for our patients. We continued to use the MRI mobile unit until May 2019 and extended operating hours to reduce the overall wait times for our growing community. As a result of these efforts, MSH reduced MRI wait times by 50 per cent and we currently have the lowest wait times for an MRI in the region!

It’s been said that “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” At MSH, we’re fortunate to have an incredible team of staff, volunteers, and professional staff – our doctors, midwives, and dentists – who all deliver an extraordinary patient experience. On March 20, five of these team members were recognized at our inaugural Honoured to Care Awards. From going above and beyond, to the many little things done each and every day, the Honoured to Care Awards were created to celebrate how our people are living our values – demonstrating respect, trust, commitment, compassion, and courage across our hospital.

Respect – Len Pierce, crisis worker Commitment – Neil Sweeney, volunteer Trust – Kristi Lipton, unit secretary Courage - Carol Cameron, executive director, Alongside Midwifery Unit Compassion - Dr. Christyne Peters, obstetrician/gynaecologist

(L-R) Len Pierce, Neil Sweeney, Kristi Lipton, Carol Cameron and Dr. Christyne Peters

Registered nurse Maxine Palmer with Chief of Paediatrics, Dr. Deepa Grewal

BEDSIDE PEWS LEADS THE WAY It’s something no parent wants to imagine, let alone have happen – their child is in hospital and suddenly they get worse. Unfortunately, it’s a situation that

More than 80 nominations were received this year with 13 per cent coming from members of our community who wanted to recognize the outstanding care they had received. Congratulations to the following inaugural recipients. And stay tuned for more information about how you can nominate someone for next year’s awards!

does routinely occur. And in many cases, the nurse or another member of the care team must contact the doctor and they hurriedly return to the

bedside. However, a new digital system introduced at MSH will help prevent these types of critical situations. Known as the Bedside Paediatric Early Warning System, or Bedside PEWS, the technology helps healthcare professionals identify children whose condition may suddenly worsen to react in a faster, more coordinated way. MSH has used a paper-based version of the Bedside PEWS tool on its paediatric inpatient unit since July 2017 and is the first hospital in Canada to implement the electronic version. Doctors, nurses and other members of a patient’s care team can now remotely monitor their patient’s status and access their electronic medical record from anywhere in the hospital. MSH is also expanding the system within the hospital, introducing the paper-based Bedside PEWS tool in the Emergency Department with the aim to improving the care experience for our paediatric patients there. Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019




Friday night and the lights are low…

ABBA Revisited – North America’s #1 ABBA tribute band

MSH orthopaedic surgeons (L-R): Dr. David Santone, Dr. Syed Haider, Dr. Stephen McMahon, Dr. Evan Watts and Dr. Kevin Koo

MSH Foundation’s Allan Bell with gala Co-Chairs, Lina Ronco and Kathy Crupi


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

On a recent Friday evening, the sights, sounds and flavours of Greece were irresistible for the more than 650 guests who danced, jived and had the time of their lives at Mamma Mia! The Gala presented by the MSH Foundation. Held at the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre, the 27th edition of this gala was generously sponsored by Shakir Rehmatullah and Flato Developments Inc. in support of the expansion of MSH’s orthopaedic surgical program. Canadian television and media personality Kevin Frankish emceed the evening that included a delicious Mediterraneanstyle dinner, silent auction, inspirational speeches and everyone’s favourite ABBA hits performed by Canada’s very own ABBA Revisited. Inspiration was on poignant display when 16-year-old BMX rider Colson Bates took the stage with MSH orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Koo. Colson recounted how Dr. Koo repaired his broken shin, keeping his dream of competing in the Olympics alive. The generous spirit of the community was also alive, culminating with the successful live auction-style fundraising appeal that will see the operating rooms at MSH equipped with four precision power saws and other cutting-edge surgical equipment. Kick-started by a donation from Colson’s dad, Colin Bates (JAN-PRO), the equipment appeal raised $138,000 thanks to contributions from Tony and Suzanne Cesaroni (Cesaroni Management Ltd.), Carlo DeGasperis (TACC Construction Ltd.), John Gibson (E.E.S. Financial) and, Frank Spaziani and Cailey Stollery (Kylemore Communities). “At MSH we rely on the community’s support through events like Mamma Mia! The Gala to ensure we have the equipment and technology needed to optimize patient outcomes and facilitate our same-day joint surgery program,” says Dr. Stephen McMahon, MSH orthopaedic surgeon.



Grateful patient Colson Bates with parents Colin and Karen Bates PHOTO: ONE TREE STUDIO INC.

Top Row, (L-R): Shahid Amlani, Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation, Suzette Strong, CEO, MSH Foundation, Deborah Rotta-Loria, grateful MSH patient, Jo-anne Marr, President & CEO, MSH, Natasha Nanji, Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation Bottom Row, (L-R): Shoppers Drug Mart team - Genaia Darragh, District Manager, Rahim Ismail, Pharmacist Owner, and Beth Li, Pharmacist Owner with Nimi Nanji Simard, Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation


Tom Barlow, Board Chair, MSH, Jo-anne Marr, CEO, MSH, Shakir Rehmatullah, Flato Developments, Lead Sponsor, Suzette Strong, CEO, MSH Foundation and Brad Morris, Board Chair, MSH Foundation

Kevin Frankish, TV and media personality, gala emcee

Suzette Strong, CEO, MSH Foundation, Seiji Ichii, President and CEO, Weins Canada, Amin Tejani, VP Operations, Weins Canada and Brad Morris, Board Chair, MSH Foundation – Recognizing Weins Canada as 10-year Automobile Sponsor

On a brisk Sunday morning in late April upwards of 2,100 participants – including 12 MSH department teams and over 15 high schools – hit the streets of Unionville, running and walking so others can take that next step to recovery. The SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women brings together women, men, family members, colleagues and friends to complete 10K, 5K and 1K walk/runs. Grateful MSH patient, Deborah Rotta-Loria took to the stage to share her journey. “I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder which I have been battling for years. With the support of many professionals at MSH and particularly my psychiatrist, Dr. Rus Sethna, I was able to walk out of my dark tunnel and into the light.” Mental illness affects one in five Canadians – making it the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide. Mental health is a priority, yet often overlooked and misunderstood. Entirely too common an illness, depression and anxiety affects one in three women; twice as many women as men. Thanks to lead donors and long-time MSH supporters the Gulshan and Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation and Deborah Rotta-Loria, donations made to the Run for Women Unionville were matched $1 for $1*. Thanks to their generosity, leadership from Shoppers Drug Mart and all the participants — $250,000 was raised this year, bringing the total contributions to nearly $650,000 over the past four years to benefit women’s mental health care at MSH. “Proceeds have enabled the development of a women’s wellness program that addresses the unique obstacles that women in our increasingly diverse community face and supports them on the path to mental health wellness,” explains Suzette Strong, CEO, MSH Foundation. “I think that women tend to put everyone else’s needs before their own,” says Deborah. “And it’s really crucial for women to have programs that are specifically geared to them and their needs. So this is a really important event.” Get involved at *up to $100,000 Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019



MSH Heroes make a difference. You won’t see MSH Heroes in capes or costumes but you will see them walking the halls of the hospital every day. Our heroes save lives, combat illness and go above and beyond to provide compassionate care to our patients. MSH Heroes have been recognized by a grateful patient, family, peer or community supporter and honoured with a donation to support exceptional patient care close to home.

“THE FIXER” Carissa Surujpaul Emergency Department nurse


It’s a rare person who, when asked to name the best thing about their job, enthuses without a pause: “I’m going to say everything!” Carissa Surujpaul, who works as a nurse in the Emergency Department (ED), is that rare person. She joined MSH in 2009, fresh from school. “I think nursing is truly a passion,” she says. “There are good days and bad days, but just providing care and seeing smiles on people’s faces is very rewarding. In the ED, people come there because they aren’t feeling well or their loved ones aren’t feeling well. So the interaction and problem solving makes it a challenging environment. It’s kind of like a big puzzle.” Carissa truly likes to figure things out. On her own initiative, she launched the Hospital Identification Project. “We work with so many people in the ED, and everyone’s IDs are not always displayed well… some of us wear scrubs, some wear T-shirts and scrub pants, or whatever. And I noted that patients would 8

look at us and not be able to tell who we are or what our jobs are. So I wanted to create an easier identification system.” Carissa did some research, and then mocked up ID badges that clearly and creatively denote a per­son’s name and position. She presented her designs and a report to senior management. They loved it, and she received a Quality in Action award for her contribution. And the accolades Carissa has received for her work do not end there. She was recognized as an MSH Hero for going above and beyond to provide enhanced care to our patients. As well, she has been nominated twice for the Robert J. Gall Nursing Award of Excellence and once for the Toronto Star Nightingale Nursing Award. “I think every day is a learning experience. I like to make things better. It’s part of our job. We’re always trying to improve upon things. Some things don’t need improvement, but if there’s a way to make it easier, why not?”

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation


“THE VOICE” Len Pierce Crisis worker


t’s the voice that stands out first. Mellow, deep, soothing… like the confident and assuring tones of a late-night radio host. It’s a voice you’d imagine a man in Len Pierce’s position would possess. Len is a crisis worker in the Mental Health Department at MSH. One of his duties — among many — is to handle code white incidents which involve de-escalating situations where people are behaving in an aggressive or violent manner. And that’s when his voice comes in handy. “People say, ‘Oh, you have a really nice soothing voice!’ And kids love me.” He has that East Coast lilt, a mellow cadence shared by many folks who hail from the East Coast. Len has a master’s degree in social work, along with certificates in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and trauma therapy. He joined MSH part-time in 2004, moving to full-time in 2006. He was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, renowned for its hospitable charm. In fact, one of the things he loves about MSH is its neighbourhood com­ munity feeling. “This is the closest I’ve found to the feeling of an East Coast

hospital,” he says. Len has worked in inner-city hospitals, which he says are more of a revolving door by nature. “So it’s more rewarding to work in a hospital where you can see people get better.” In addition to being recognized as an MSH Hero, Len is also the inaugural recipient of MSH’s Hon­oured to Care: Respect award for consistently demonstrating inclusiveness with everyone — patients and staff alike. Len works in the crisis clinic where he applies such techniques as CBT, motivational interviewing, narrative therapy and trauma counselling, among others. In his role, he interacts with just about every area of MSH, conducting assessments and providing mental health support on all medical floors and clinics. He also counsels and supports hospital staff who have experienced trauma. Sound demanding? It sure is. But Len says it’s a team effort. “We have a very supportive environment at MSH. Everyone has your back when you’re trying to help,” he says. “It’s really quite a nice place to work. I’ve been doing this for 28 years, and still look forward to coming to work every day.”

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019



“THE COMEDIENNE” Sonita Arcinas Volunteer, retired nurse


here’s something about the culture of MSH that attracts dedicated staff like Sonita Arcinas. The registered nurse, who retired last year after 29 years, returns every Wednesday to volunteer. She leads a weekly Dr. Bear tour for children to help familiarize them with their upcoming surgical procedure and teach them about what to expect while they are in the hospital. “It reduces their anxiety,” says Sonita. “And they know what to expect. These children are very smart and they ask a lot of questions. I see the difference in the kids who have been on the tour with me, they smile and their families are more at ease. That’s what gives me satisfaction.” Sonita tells patients to call her Sony. “When they can’t remember my name, I tell them it’s like the TV brand, and for the kids I say, ‘PlayStation.’” It’s that kind of good humour that makes her a lot of friends. Sony knew she wanted to be a nurse from her elementary school days in the Philippines. She moved to Ontario in 1974 at age 18 and joined MSH when it opened in the spring of 1990.


Caregiving runs in Sony’s family. Her sister is a volunteer at MSH, and her son and daughter volunteered at MSH during their high school years, her aunt is a retired nurse and she has two cousins working as nurses. Sony loves the vibe at MSH. “Everybody knows everybody, from the housekeeping to the kitchen staff, to the unit secretaries, the nurses and the doctors. The CEO and senior leadership are very vis­ible. You see them walking around and they chat with you. This is very different from huge hospitals where you only know the people in your department.” Sony exemplifies the ‘hero in all of us’ idea. Not only does she volunteer her time but she also gives generously to support the highest priority needs of the hospital. Needless to say, Sony keeps active in retirement. She baby­ ­­sits her grandson and takes care of her 88-year-old mother. She and her husband, who retired from Bom­bardier last year, love to ballroom dance and go for walks, spending as much time as they can together. “We’re attached at the hip,” she says.

Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation


“THE FAMILY MAKER” Dr. Mike Virro Obstetrician / gynaecologist and fertility specialist


t the Markham Fer­ti­lity Centre at MSH, Dr. Mike Virro runs one of the five lar­gest fertility clinics in Canada. Help­ing patients get pregnant is his passion, even though he fell into it by happenstance. Back in 1987, his medical school curriculum required students be paired with a practicing doctor for mentorship. “It could have been a general practitioner, or any number of specialists… and who did Mike Virro get? He got a fertility specialist.” He was intrigued, and he dove right in. Dr. Virro has experienced exciting times in the field of fertility technology — over the past 25 years, success rates have grown from 10 to 15 per cent to about 65 per cent today. But Dr. Virro, ever focused on betterment says, “So we’ve got 35 per cent room for improvement, which is a lot.” The Markham Fertility Centre works within a specialized niche for patients who have experienced multiple in vitro fertilization failures. “So we’re the last stop when people have not succeeded elsewhere.” With the latest science and technologies backing them up, Dr. Virro’s team of three doctors — with a new one

joining this summer — works extremely hard to help wouldbe parents attain their dreams. Dr. Virro has helped many families and one of those fam­ ilies showed their gratitude by honouring him as an MSH Hero saying, “thank you for helping us build our family, and for the endless dedication and commit­ ment to ensure we had siblings for our son. Without Dr. Virro, we wouldn’t have three beautiful kids.” Looking back over his years at MSH, Dr. Virro estimates the centre has helped bring 11,000 babies into the world, however, he can’t help ponder the “what ifs.” He’s obviously thrilled about his successes, but states: “I would have loved to have helped the people who weren’t successful.” When asked about his accom­ plishments, he is somewhat reti­ cent. After some probing — he says: “What do I find rewarding? I can’t walk anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area without someone who has their kid (or kids) with them walking up to me and they say ‘thank you.’” If there is a special doctor, nurse, volunteer, hospital staff or the everyday hero who made a difference in your life, give a gift of gratitude at

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support of our generous sponsors










Herman & Marya Grad














Markham Stouffville Hospital Franchisees Russ and Wendy Brown






2018 -2019 RAISED

Mike Assinck


MSH was built on decades of philanthropy. Generous com­ mun­ity support is the reason that our patients and families can count on MSH for excep­ tional care, close to home. From baby’s first breaths to compassionate end-oflife care, MSH is there, caring for its vibrant commun­ ity. Whether a $50 teddy bear or a seven-figure trans­ for­ma­­tional gift, every penny counts towards enabling the growth of MSH through the funding of its ongoing pri­or­ i­­ties and needs that govern­ ment money doesn’t cover. This year, the power of giv­ ing has led to the purchase of thousands of pieces of cri­­­t ical, life- saving equipment and health tech­­­­­­nology, and has touched thou­sands of lives.


Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019




$525,345 SURGERY




$566,280 CANCER














HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR GENEROSITY •M  SH proudly named and officially unveiled — The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic. •A  dedicated team of 25 MSH physicians, clinicians and hospital supporters took on an expedition to Mount Everest Base Camp through the Himalayan region of Nepal and successfully conquered it, all in support of world-class surgical care at MSH. • Introduced Transesophageal Echo­­cardio­g raphy (TEE) Services. This cardiac diagnostic equipment enables two new types of cardiac tests at MSH, vital to ensuring exceptional care close to home.

As at March 31, 2019, $5.4 million was given to MSH. * Our audited financial statements are available at and also by contacting Tracy Clegg, Vice President, Donor Engagement & Operations at 905-472-7057 or


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation







UP TO 250








BORN 2,000




18,197 2,306















358 265




Statistics reflective of Markham site for year ending March 31, 2019.

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019




Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Technology and optimum treatment at MSH help get local BMX star back on his bike – in record time

Y Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Koo with grateful patient Colson Bates

ou know a star when you see one in action. Watching Colson Bates soar over the ramps on his BMX bike, you know you’re watching an elite athlete in the making. “I was always drawn to bikes,” says the 16-year-old, recalling when he was a little boy watching the neighbourhood kids on their bikes. “When I got my first BMX bike, I just took to it and I was hooked.” It’s the freedom, the creativity of free­ style and racing that appeal to him. That, of course, and the challenge. “I’d conquer one jump and then go to the next, then the next. I started at the bottom and worked my way up.” He has raced in provincial and national competitions, and now has his eye on the next level. “It was really interesting to see his biking develop from the time he was six,” says his mom Karen Bates. His parents are avid supporters of his interest in biking and say that as long as he conti­ nues to have fun with it and main­tains that commitment, they’ll support him all the way. Colson is at the critical juncture where an activity he does for fun could morph into a lifelong career. “Everybody wants to go to the Olympics. I think if I set that as my goal I could definitely achieve it. I want to keep doing it, keep enjoying it and see where it takes me.”

This is the point in the young athlete’s life where skill, ambition, luck and perseverance all come into play. The support of the team at MSH has played a big role in his future too. Colson was born at MSH. And in February of this year, he returned — but not under the best of circumstances. He was warming up for a day of routine training with his coach Brendan Arnold, piloting his bike around the track, when he crashed. “As soon as I started to hit the ground I was thinking ‘I don’t think this is going to be good,’” he says. He broke his tibia (shin bone) and was rushed to MSH in excruciating pain. There he met orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Koo, who understood immediately the urgency of getting Colson treated and back to competing as soon as possible. “With high level athletes, I find they have a lot to lose,” Dr. Koo says. “We’re talking about someone’s livelihood here, and one wrong slip means the end of their dreams.” Dr. Koo wanted to understand everything about Colson’s sport and what his future looked like, so that he could develop the optimum treatment plan. His priority was to get Colson healed and back on his bike before the season kicked into high gear. “Dr. Koo made me feel good about the whole situation,” Colson says. Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019





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Colson back on his wheels thanks to Dr. Koo

“He said, ‘This has happened, we’re going to fix it, and we’re going to do it as soon as possible.’” It was important that Dr. Koo was able to treat Colson right away at MSH, rather than have him transferred to a different hospital, which could delay treatment. Having the right equipment and technology in the operating room allowed the surgical team to spring into action. “We’re going through a very exciting time right now especially in the orthopaedics program,” Dr. Koo says. “Surgeries are more elegant because of technical advances. Minimally invasive surgery, same-day surgery, small incision surgery — these are very important for patient outcomes as well as their function afterwards.” Dr. Koo says funding and support from the community is imperative. Donations mean the hospital can keep pace with medical advances, and provide the best possible care to patients like Colson. “We were able to get him into the operating room quickly because of the resources we have, which meant we were able to get him treated and walking relatively soon. These things can’t happen without the latest and best technology.” MSH is committed to expanding its suite of surgical services and increasing its surgical capacity, especially for orthopaedic procedures like Colson’s.

This includes creative partnerships for care beyond the hospital walls such as an innovative, new approach to home care services. Partnerships enable better patient outcomes and allow patients to recover in the comfort of their own home. Fifty per cent of MSH’s orthopaedic surgical patients now return home within the same day. In 2018-19, over 3,000 orthopaedic surgeries were performed at MSH, including more than 1,000 total hip and knee replacements. Last fall, the surgical team completed its first same-day total joint surgery: a knee-replacement procedure. The goal for these procedures is to minimize soft tissue and muscle damage, which equates to less pain and quicker recovery for the patient, while reducing wait times. “The most rewarding part of this job is seeing patients be able to return to what they love doing without limitations, restrictions or pain,” Dr. Koo says. “Seeing Colson riding at the level that he does and knowing that the work we do here at MSH helped him with his performance is a very rewarding experience for me as a surgeon.” Colson says that BMX has become an integral part of his daily life. He couldn’t imagine not riding every day. “The MSH team and Dr. Koo have kept my dreams alive in the sport of BMX racing and I am very grateful,” he says.

We were able to get him into the operating room quickly because of the resources we have here

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019


The greatest gift Grateful patient and MSH volunteer Norm Seidler kidding around with his biggest fan, Dr. Bear

MSH volunteer discovers that giving back is the most rewarding work of all


hen people ask Norm Seidler what he does for a living, he tells them: “I’m a professional hugger.” As a volunteer at MSH, Norm says he has the best job in the world. “The pay is terrific — I get a lot of smiles, hugs and thank-yous, and that’s wonderful currency. And I’m having fun, so it’s a win all around,” he says. Norm volunteers for MSH’s Dr. Bear program — a surgical pre-admissions program for children between the ages of four to 12. Children and their parents tour the operating and recovery rooms and learn about pre and post- surgical care. “The Dr. Bear program alleviates some

of the stress and anxiety children feel about going for surgery,” says Norm. “I always tell the kids we are going to have some fun today; I want them to leave with smiles on their faces.” Before Norm became a volunteer, he was a patient at MSH. Five years ago, he had a heart attack — a Code Blue, which means he required immediate medical attention and resuscitation. As a result, he spent a week recovering in the Intensive Care Unit, which gave him a lot of time to contemplate life. “Before my heart attack, volunteering was a passing thought,” says Norm. “I thought I didn’t have time to do it.” But as he lay recovering in hospital, grateful to be alive, he decided he would find a way to give back to the community — and to him there was no better place to start than at MSH. So Norm started volunteering in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), helping the hospital’s smallest and most vulnerable patients. Then, when the MSH Foundation launched its No Baby Unhugged program enabled by t


Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019



FOR E V E R UR BABY WALL ON OUR Celebrate milestones with a generous gift in your baby’s honour: 905-472-7373 ext. 6341


Saying “I do” to making a difference When Adam and Daniella said “I do”, they chose to support patient care at Markham Stouffville Hospital. In lieu of traditional wedding favours, the childhood sweethearts gave a gift to MSH in their guests’ honour.

Celebrate love by contacting: 905-472-7373 ext. 6341

Volunteers like Norm make a huge difference to MSH with the generous time they give to patients and their families

Norm provides comfort to children cared for at MSH through the No Baby Unhugged and Dr. Bear programs generously supported by the community

Huggies in November, he jumped at the opportunity. With the No Baby Unhugged program, MSH expanded its developmental services in the NICU. The purpose of the program is to provide hugs to our tiniest patients when parents and family members are unable to be present. The baby hugging program also brings awareness to the needs of premature babies — accounting for roughly eight per cent of all births in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. “We know the power of touch can help a baby grow and develop, which in turn helps them to achieve our most important goal of getting them home with their families,” says Julie Atkinson, child life specialist at MSH who works with volunteers like Norm. Typically, parents provide the hugs, but with babies in the NICU who face an extended period of time in hospital, parents may have to attend to other com­ mit­ments during the day, such as work or other children. With volunteers like Norm providing baby hugging on rotating three-hour shifts, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., this helps alleviate pressure on the NICU staff, and provides peace of mind for anxious parents who are unable to be with their baby in the hospital. Touch is one of the first senses that a baby develops, acting as a non-verbal form of communication that helps babies bond. Hugging has been proven to

benefit babies in a number of ways, from a more stable heart rate and faster weight gain, to shorter hospital stays and reduced pain. Hugging also boosts the immune system, releasing oxytocin and serotonin that helps to relieve stress. Norm quickly learned the beneficial effects that hugging has on NICU babies — and on himself. “Baby hugging is probably the best job in the world,” he says. “For me personally, it makes me feel peaceful when a baby settles down, knowing that I am accomplishing some­ thing to make the baby happy. A baby’s smile is an added bonus.” As he started to give back, his commitment grew. He now volunteers three days a week, from four to six hours per shift. Aside from hugging babies and the Dr. Bear program, he offers his time in other ways at MSH. “In line with the Grade 1 curriculum, Norm, along with a team of volunteers, helps lead tours that teach children about the hospital, healthy eating and lifestyle, as well as making the children hand-washing champions,” says Julie. “Many families have commented on how friendly and caring Norm is, and how great it is to have a male role model volunteering his time with the kids,” says Julie. These volunteer activities help sup­ port families and reduce the stress associated with hospitalization and surgery for children and babies. “Volunteers like Norm make a huge

difference to MSH with the generous time they give to patients and their fam­ ilies,” says Julie. “Our volunteers are part of the health­ care team and they are able to give our patients and families that extra bit of time, which contributes positively to the overall patient experience,” Julie says. “I am not sure how our hospital would work and have the ‘homey’ feeling it does without the wonderful group of volunteers we have.” “Volunteering is circular; whatever you give back comes back multiple folds,” says Norm. “There isn’t a day I don’t come home from a shift without a smile on my face.”

WATCH THIS VIDEO Want to see how our tiniest patients are cared for when their parents and family members are unable to be there? Visit our website for a short (but touching) video that offers a glimpse of the No Baby Unhugged program at MSH’s NICU.

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019



BACK TO LIFE New Integrated Stroke Unit provides stroke care close to home




Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Recovering stroke patient Frank Vajda shares a moment with his daughter, Kristine Vajda

rank Vajda was feeling nauseous and dizzy for a few days, so he called his doctor thinking he might have a bug. The doctor was concerned about Frank’s high blood pressure, fear­ ing he could be at risk for a stroke. So Frank made his way to MSH — not realizing he was already having a stroke. As it turned out, the 77-year-old retired architect was having a type of stroke that doesn’t present with typical symptoms. A cerebellar stroke affects the cerebellum in the brain, causing problems with balance and coordination. As swelling in Frank’s brain inten-

sified, he became almost delirious, and then drifted into unconsciousness. Frank was airlifted to a GTA hospital where his family was told he had probably suffered brain damage and would need a tracheotomy and feed­ ing tube, if he even survived. “It was the worst thing we could possibly hear,” says his daughter, Kristine Vajda. “He would not want this. It was very scary for my family trying to make these life-saving decisions for him.” But then Frank’s swelling peaked and fortunately his condition improved with­ ­out needing surgery. The family had him transferred to MSH’s new Integrated Stroke Unit (ISU), which opened in January. The new ISU is part of the


hospital’s overall strategy to deliver safe, and high quality care to our patients, their families and the community. The ISU provides both acute and rehabilitative care for stroke patients; they remain on the same unit, in the same bed, surrounded by the same interprofessional healthcare team through­­out their stay in hospital. In the ISU, Frank’s condition steadily improved. He then started rehabilitation, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy — with Kristine only a 20-minute drive away. The family went from planning Frank’s funeral to welcoming him back home. “It’s shocking that he’s now able to come home,” says Kristine. “I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that would have happened. He’s back to his usual self.” Stroke care is steadily becoming a priority need. Almost 80 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 45 have some chronic condition, and the rate of diabetes and obesity (precursors for stroke) is on the rise among younger Ontarians. There are an estimated 25,000 new stroke events in Ontario every year, which leads to more than 16,000 inpatient admissions to hospital. “At least every 30 minutes, there is one new stroke patient in Ontario,” says Nicole Di Paolo, patient care and ISU manager at MSH. “If we look at the impact of stroke, it’s the third-leading cause of death in Ontario and the third-­ leading cause of adult disability.” Stroke can affect anyone at any age. More women than men die from stroke

(because they’re less likely to seek immediate treatment) and more women die of stroke than breast cancer. Time to treatment is critical; the more time that passes, the more likely the stroke will be higher in severity and require longer recovery. In the new ISU, care is provided by a team of healthcare professionals specially trained in stroke treatment. “There’s more timely assessment, seam­ less transitions and consistency of care throughout, and it’s based on best practices,” says Nicole. Research shows that patients who receive care in a dedicated stroke unit have some of the best outcomes. “Just by establishing this model of care, we see improvements in our patients,” says Dr. David Kim, stroke neurologist at MSH. With access to an ISU, those who experience a stroke are more likely to survive, maintain their independence and live at home one year post-stroke. Other benefits include a 30 per cent reduction in the likelihood of death and disability for men and women of any age with a mild, moderate or severe stroke. There are also fewer complications, earlier mobilization and earlier recognition of pneumonia in stroke survivors. “We have a growing community that’s having an increasing number of strokes and are repatriated here,” says Dr. Kim. “Overall, as the patient population ages and the boomer generation moves into the elderly part of their life, the incidence of stroke naturally rises to the top [of health concerns].” In 2016-17, 233 patients with a stroke

diagnosis were treated at MSH, with an average length of stay ranging from 2.8 to 20.4 days. Of those 233 patients, 80 required rehabilitation services, and 52 of those 80 were transferred to another rehabilitation facility. Many of those patients had to travel into Toronto for specialized stroke rehab­ ilitation services and frequently chose those alternate facilities for their continued care. With the ISU, MSH is now able to provide more timely care closer to home, and seamless access to rehabilitation services and follow-up care after discharge. “By providing the full spectrum of care in the ISU, we’re ensuring we don’t miss any aspect of a patient’s treatment plan,” says Liz Lalingo, director of medicine. “It gives people back a quality of life or as close as possible to that.” Each patient collaborates with the MSH team to create a customized rehabilitation program that can lead to expedited recovery and eventual return to the community — just like Frank. This includes rehabilitation activities that target mobility, balance and coordination, as well as speech and communication, strength and endurance, and memory and problem-solving. “Once they’ve completed the acute phase, rehabilitation can be a fairly lengthy stay — as long as six to eight weeks. By enabling services closer to home, it helps with family support,” says Liz. “The patient experience is really important. A stroke can be a life-altering event. We’re giving them the tools to best overcome it.”

Frank with rehabilitation assistant Nicole Turner

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019



MSH launches new multidisciplinary melanoma clinic Grateful patient Jennifer McLaughlin receives treatment from Dr. Tara Lynn Teshima, plastic surgeon


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation


ennifer McLaughlin first noticed a small, dry patch of skin on her upper left bicep six or seven years ago. At the time, her family doctor wasn’t concerned and diagnosed it as dermatitis. But last year she noticed a few bumps had appeared on the patch. While she wasn’t panicked, her family doctor referred her to a dermatologist. The dermatologist examined the lesion and, five weeks later, removed it. And a week after she had the lesion removed she got a call confirming it was melanoma — an aggressive form of cancer that develops from DNA damage to skin cells, leading to the formation of malignant tumours. “I went to my computer and started researching melanoma and became immediately overwhelmed and terrified, because this word ‘aggressive’ kept coming up,” says Jennifer, who spent the next day trying to process what that meant for her, her husband and their three children, aged 12 to 15. “For anybody who hears the word ‘cancer’ or ‘melanoma,’ every day feels like an eternity, so the faster they receive diagnosis and treatment, the better it is for positive outcomes,” says Tracie Scott, director of surgical services at MSH. Jennifer only had to wait two days for her first appointment at MSH’s new melanoma clinic. Officially opened in April 2019, the clinic brings together the hospital’s surgical, diagnostic and oncology expertise with the aim to reduce wait times for analyzing skin lesions and treatment of melanoma by improving access to specialists and surgeons. “There are very few options for treating melanoma in Ontario, which is why we decided this is an important service to offer. Sunnybrook has one of the only specialized melanoma clinics in the GTA, which leaves a huge gap,” says Tracie. “Our primary goal is to provide better access to care and reduce wait times.” If treated early enough, melanoma is almost always curable. The clinic takes a multidisciplinary approach, where a patient meets their entire care team — general surgeon, plastic surgeon, pathologist and oncologist — at

once, during the same appointment. “Patients receive a really robust care plan individualized for them,” says Tracie. The clinic is collaborating with Sunnybrook, and learning from the expertise of MSH’s Dr. Tara Lynn Teshima, a plastic surgeon specializing in adult craniofacial surgery. “Toronto is inundated and wait lists are going up [for skin cancer treatment],” says Dr. Teshima. “I realized we can help patients in Markham if we developed our own multidisciplinary clinic and offer all aspects of treatment, including complex head and neck skin cancer where reconstruction is required.” By reducing wait times, this could potentially result in expedited biopsies and earlier diagnoses. “Because our specialists and surgeons are seeing the patient at the same time, a plan is organized very quickly and that patient will often leave their first appointment knowing what needs to be done, with a surgery date scheduled faster than provincial guidelines,” says Dr. Teshima. The goal is for patients to be seen by all specialists in one appointment, followed by surgery within one to two weeks. “We’re hoping to be an example of what is possible and what should be done for patients with serious melanoma conditions,” says Dr. Teshima. “Our diagnostic specialists are pleased to collaborate as part of this dedicated interprofessional team and to see patients receive more timely treatment,” says Lynne Campkin, director of diagnostic and laboratory services at MSH. “This type of cancer can be effectively treated with access to the appropriate services.” The new melanoma clinic at MSH will incorporate a patient database to collect data on outcomes and rates of recurrence and could collaborate with Sunnybrook on clinical trials for related medications. The database will also keep track of patients for ongoing follow-up appointments. “It’s not just treating the immediate lesion; these patients often require longterm follow-up,” says Dr. Teshima. “We’re starting a patient database so we can capture patient information, so no matter what, the patient will always be called at the six to 12 month mark. The goal is

I felt very reassured and informed from my first appointment onward

that no patients are lost in follow-up.” In less than a month, Jennifer went from melanoma diagnosis to surgery to recovery. Less than two weeks after her surgery, she received another call: this time she was told the surgery removed all traces of cancer. “Before my diagnosis, I would have guessed that the process of navigating the healthcare system for a cancer patient is completely overwhelming and intimidating. My experience was not like that at all,” says Jennifer. “I felt very reassured and informed from my first appointment with Dr. Teshima onward. She and all the other doctors, nurses and hospital staff have been wonderful.” Jennifer will be part of the patient database, ensuring she receives ongoing follow-up care. “In the grand scheme of things I was so thankful that in a month’s time I was on the road to recovery,” she says. “I came out feeling very thankful that we now have this clinic in our community.” Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019





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.

July 5 to 7

Monday, Aug. 12

Downtown Markham 179 Enterprise Blvd Enjoy delicious food from top ribbers, local food trucks and more! With a kids zone and live entertainment, you don’t want to miss this event. For details visit

York Downs Golf & Country Club Enjoy a day of golf, auctions and great food at the prestigious York Downs Golf & Country Club. Sponsorship opportunities available. Contact Allan at 905-472-7395 or or visit

16th Annual Markham Rotary Ribfest

35th Annual MSH Foundation Golf Tournament

Sept. 16 to 22

Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Campaign Markham & Stouffville Tim Hortons Restaurants Purchase a Smile Cookie for only $1 (plus tax) from participating Markham and Stouffville locations to support The Stollery Family Centre for Childbirth & Children.

Monday, Sept. 16

Markham-Unionville Ladies Golf Tournament Upper Unionville Golf Club Ladies golf tournament benefiting The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic. Contact

Thursday, July 18

20th Annual Alex Chiu Golf Tournament Angus Glen Golf Club Alex Chiu’s Annual Golf Tournament is back to support MSH! Contact Alicia at or 905-475-2531

Sunday, Nov. 3

Angus Glen Fall Race

Friday, July 19

Angus Glen Summer Five Miler Angus Glen Golf Club Celebrate summer and the final year of the Angus Glen Running Series with a night time race featuring five or three miles of golf cart paths.

Wednesday, Sept. 11

Markham Professional Firefighters Association Memorial Golf Tournament Upper Unionville Golf Club Play a round of golf and enjoy lunch and prizes while supporting The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic. Contact Rob at 905-995-2535 or

Angus Glen Golf Club This is the final Angus Glen race! Participate in a 5K, 10K, 10 Miler or kids 1K. Check for early bird rates at

HOST A FUNDRAISING EVENT! No event is too big or too small. EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS! Find out more at or contact Joyce at or 905-472-7373 ext. 6229

Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019




Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation















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



9. A  VIVA INSURANCE QUOTE CAMPAIGN Joyce presents a plaque to Ian Foo of Aviva for its generous contributions

Suzette Strong, CEO and Brad Morris, Board Chair, MSH Foundation show their appreciation to COPO Chair, Khalid Usman and family for spearheading the raising of $200,000.

10. M  ARKHAM ROYALS SCHOOL DAY HOCKEY GAME Suzette drops the puck with Councillor Reid McAlpine, Markham Ward 3, for the inaugural game benefiting MSH’s Emergency Department.



Genaia Darragh, District Manager (centre) and local pharmacists/owners recognized for raising over $21,000.

Dr. Brown accepts a token of appreciation. Since 2008, Smiles for Life has raised over $39,000 to benefit children’s care.

3. M  IKE’S LOVE LEMONADE CHRISTMAS SALE Michael James and his family raise $7,340.



4. F  IGHT LIKE A SURVIVOR SELF DEFENSE CLASS Marina and Evan are thanked by Allan, and nurse Pamela Anderson, for raising $3,215 for The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic.

5. M  ARKHAM TAMIL SENIORS ASSOCIATION Members receive a plaque of appreciation for raising $1,200 from Joyce So, MSH Foundation.


Friends warming up together before the big race! Over the last 15 years this series has raised over $500,000 to support The Stollery Family Centre for Childbirth & Children.

13. FÊTE CHINOISE Event committee strikes a pose on the pink carpet and raises over $22,000 and counting!


6. DILLEY  CANCER HOCKEY TOURNAMENT Dave Dilley (left) presents proceeds from his annual hockey tournament to Allan.

Owner Keith Acton and Kitchen Manager Kesavan receive a recognition plaque for raising over $1,400.



The DiMartino family raises $10,000 at their annual gala.



Staff from The Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic with WhitchurchStouffville Firefighters sold exclusive pink awareness T-shirts to benefit cancer care.

Markham Firefighter, Leo Olivera presents Q107 contest winnings to Allan, with John Derringer, Jennifer Valentyne and Ryan Parker.

#MSHCOMMUNITY Healthy.Together. Spring/Summer 2019



BECOME AN MSH LEGACY DONOR Plan today to make a difference tomorrow.

In the Kapurs’ eyes – the community is an extension of their family. As long-time MSH volunteers and supporters, Yash and Prem Kapur are leaving a legacy gift in their will. To them, family is not only defined by their children and grandchildren but also by the community and, by extension the hospital - “we are all one family,” they say. “I know how it is, to live without having anything,” says Yash. “We have this world-class hospital in our community where we have been residents of Markham for the past 20 years and we feel it is our obligation to do something for MSH which is doing something for the community.” Leaving a gift in your will to the MSH Foundation is a powerful act of generosity. You can realize the dream of providing for the future of healthcare in a way that may not have been possible during your lifetime. “Providing for MSH in our will is an easy way to give back and make a difference, even as ordinary people,” adds Yash. “And we hope it inspires others to do the same.” 905-472-7373 ext. 6619


Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation


Profile for Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation

Healthy.Together.Markham.Stouffville. Spring/Summer 2019 Edition  

Read how our orthopaedic team got local BMX star back on track after an injury, our new melanoma clinic and how are we are bringing stroke c...

Healthy.Together.Markham.Stouffville. Spring/Summer 2019 Edition  

Read how our orthopaedic team got local BMX star back on track after an injury, our new melanoma clinic and how are we are bringing stroke c...


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