Your Health Matters spring 2022

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Your Health Matters SPRING/SUMMER 2022 EDITION


+ THE ROLLOUT Royal Columbian and its donors help immunize British Columbians during the pandemic

+ COVID CARE SARS-CoV-2 has hospitalized hundreds at Royal Columbian since the start of the pandemic

+ TRANSFORMATION What to expect in the new Acute Care Tower scheduled for 2025

+ A LONG JOURNEY Mother of micro preemie shares story as encouragement to other NICU parents





efore the calendar once again officially turns to spring, the world will have marked two years since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Many have compared the pandemic to a marathon, and that sounds about right. Over the last year, as our caregivers managed third, fourth, and fifth waves of infections, they have grown increasingly fatigued. With your help, the Foundation has introduced a number of wellness initiatives to help encourage and support our healthcare professionals. We also know your messages of appreciation, thoughtful donations, and other acts of kindness have helped. While we have continued to manage the challenges of the pandemic, Royal Columbian Hospital has also taken another major step in its redevelopment. Work on the new Acute Care Tower is well underway as we build the future of exceptional care for British Columbians. Over the coming months, the construction will increasingly take shape


as the centrepiece of redevelopment moves towards its completion date in 2025. In this edition of Your Health Matters, we continue to share stories of those who are grateful for their care at Royal Columbian. This includes a heartfelt account from a patient in the hospital’s COVID-19 ward. We also hear from a stroke survivor as well as from a family whose newborn spent months inside the Variety Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In addition, we preview how the Acute Care Tower will revolutionize patient care for British Columbians. We speak with Dr. Ken Atkinson, who has been with Royal Columbian for more than two decades as a gastroenterologist and last fall became its site medical director. And our cover story documents the hospital’s role in BC’s COVID-19 immunization campaign, including how donors helped Royal Columbian receive and distribute some of the first vaccines.

Cameron Belsher

Jeff Norris

Chair, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation

President & CEO, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation



Your Health Matters





PUBLISHED BY New Westminster Record

ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair Cameron Belsher Vice Chair Norm Taylor Treasurer Catherine Ruby Secretary Jennifer Podmore Russell



President and CEO Jeff Norris Directors Hema Bhatt, Dr.Sukh Brar, John Clinton, Tom Corsie, Farid Rohani, Dr.William Siu, Emily Taylor, Rana Vig, Fred Withers




Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation Chair Cameron Belsher and Foundation President and CEO Jeff Norris 4

Inspired giving

Rushed to Royal Columbian, a New Yorker is forever grateful 12

Your Legacy Matters


A long journey

Behind-the-scenes briefs 5

We welcome your comments on Your Health Matters magazine. Please email or write to us c/o Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, 330 East Columbia St, New Westminster, B.C. V3L 3W7. Established in 1978, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation raises millions of dollars annually to purchase medical equipment, fund innovative programs, and support training and research. To donate, please visit or call 604-520-4438.


The rollout

Royal Columbian and its donors help immunize British Columbians during the pandemic

Travel emergency

A Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation special feature on future giving Mother of micro preemie shares story as encouragement to other NICU parents

COVID care SARS CoV-2 has hospitalized hundreds at Royal Columbian since the start of the pandemic


Self improvement




19: Leadership expansion


Close shave

What to expect in the new Acute Care Tower scheduled for 2025

Hospital earns international recognition for surgical patient care Q&A with Royal Columbian Hospital site medical director Dr. Ken Atkinson

Grateful barber back at work after stroke




Sincere thanks to Royal Columbian Hospital Anesthesiologists who contributed towards their collective leadership gift of $121,400 to the Anesthesiology Innovation Fund. The fund supports professional development opportunities for anesthesiologists and department staff, and clinical and research efforts of the Department of Anesthesiology and Peri-Operative Medicine. This fund also encourages and supports quality improvement projects.

Seren Williams spent five days in the NICU when she was born. She’s been giving in each of the past four years, and her younger brother Rhodri has joined the cause these past two years. The brother and sister have raised money through birthday donations and collecting bottles and cans for recycling.

Dr. Wilfred Wong served as a valued member of the Royal Columbian Hospital medical staff from 1974 to 1994. Along with his wife Amy, he is furthering his legacy of care at Royal Columbian with a transformational gift of $100,000 towards stroke care in the new Acute Care Tower. Students from Taylor Park Elementary are among those who have sent encouragement to the hospital over the past couple of years. Students delivered handmade cards with messages of support, which were distributed around Royal Columbian.

For the latest Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation news, follow us:


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Dr. Carolyn Shiau has been a physician lead for the vaccine rollout in our health region.



f the priority in 2020 was to bend the curve, the focus in 2021 was to get shots into arms. Dr. Carolyn Shiau was on the frontline of the monumental task of distributing COVID-19 vaccines to as many British Columbians as possible. “It starts with the questions ‘Can you store the vaccine safely, and can you move it around to all those locations safely,” says Dr. Shiau, an anatomic pathologist who helped Royal Columbian Hospital become among the first places in the province to receive and distribute the vaccines in December 2020. With the first mRNA vaccines needing to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, Dr. Shiau recognized that Royal Columbian’s lab had the right infrastructure. “A minus 70 freezer is not easy to

come by, unless you work in the lab, where we store a lot of our product in temperature-controlled refrigerators,” she notes. With the help of donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, Dr. Shiau secured an extra fridge and freezer to ensure there were backups in place for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. After figuring out storage and transportation issues, Dr. Shiau then became involved in the vaccine clinics that were in place in communities in 2021. Taking on the challenge of ensuring vaccination clinics ran as efficiently as possible, Dr. Shiau helped develop strategies around extracting extra doses out of vials and a system for pre-drawing doses. Other clinics soon adopted these approaches used at

Royal Columbian. The next phase to occur was the general community rollout, and Dr. Shiau applied her quality improvement training to make the large-scale clinics as efficient as possible. On our peak days, we were doing over 25-thousand shots a day throughout Fraser Health, which I think is an amazing thing if you think of how many people, bodies, and logistics it takes in order to do that,” she says. As the immunization program progressed through the spring and summer, some of the large vaccination clinics eventually wound down their operations. By mid-December, 88% of eligible British Columbians 12 and older had received two doses. “Helping with the vaccine rollout is kind of like the medical field’s version of the Olympics,” says Dr. Shiau. “It was this massive undertaking where all of a sudden everybody had to come together and focus on one task.” •



Royal Columbian Hospital patient care coordinator Ushma Maghera works on a unit that cares for hospitalized COVID-19 patients




t started with mild flu-like symptoms, and Marisa Sitter was surprised that her COVID-19 test came back positive. Over the next few days, the Coquitlam resident’s condition progressively grew worse. In addition to a fever, she was getting dizzy, weak, and eventually had difficulty breathing. Feeling like she was drowning, Marisa made her way to Royal Columbian Hospital, where she spent close to a week in the care of a team that has looked after hundreds of COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic. “My breathing was very laboured, and that caused me to feel quite panicky,” recalls Marisa, who became ill in early February 2021 before vaccines were available to her. “I purchased a pulse oximeter, and I kept


testing my oxygen levels. I could see the number dropping, and when the number went down to about 81 or 82, I called 811 and was told to call 911 and go to the hospital.” In the emergency department, Marisa underwent some tests and was given oxygen. She was then transferred to a COVID-19 unit that opened at the start of the pandemic for patients who need to be hospitalized because of the virus but are not yet critically ill. Ushma Maghera, a nurse and patient care coordinator on that unit, says her team tries to do what they can to help their patients stay out of the intensive care unit. “There is a trajectory that we see often with our patients. There is some shortness of breath,” she explains. “We monitor them frequently, check


their vitals, and review their oxygen saturations. Their respiratory status can change quickly. We also give them IV medications and supplementary oxygen sometimes. We support them as best we can through the next few days.”

COMPASSION AND RESPECT Marisa was on oxygen and intravenous therapies and stayed connected to loved ones by phone while hoping she would get better soon. “The first three days were very difficult, and I was scared,” she says. “It was terrifying, and I just felt so bad for the other patients as well. I just see all the different ways that people were suffering with COVID. The person next to me was affected with blood

Members of the team from Royal Columbian Hospital’s COVID-19 unit.

Marisa Sitter was hospitalized at Royal Columbian Hospital with COVID-19 in February 2021.

clots. The woman across from me could not eat at all.” There have been a lot of learnings and adjustments to protocols since the start of the pandemic. One strategy for care that has become common is to get patients on their stomachs. “If they're proning, they're opening up their lungs and they're getting the oxygen they need,’ Ushma explains. “If they can't do their stomach, then we have them slightly proned, or we're having them sit basically upright, 90 degrees.” Marisa, who had previously been impressed with the care her father had received at Royal Columbian a few years before, was comforted by knowing she was in good hands. “I could tell how busy they were, and no matter how busy they were, they still took the time to answer questions and provide the best care that they could,” she says. “I have so much compassion and respect for the healthcare workers in the past couple of years. They really are heroes. There is no other word.” “I haven't seen a team like this ever,” adds Ushma about her colleagues.

Signage identifies the rooms reserved for COVID-19 patients.

“I've never had a team that's so dedicated and so passionate and so flexible with the amount of change and the influx that has come through. Now, as strong and as comfortable as they are, they're also now tired. There is definitely fatigue kicking in.”

HIGHS AND LOWS Just about a week after being admitted to the COVID unit, Marisa was feeling well enough to go back home. Eight months later, she reports still feeling quite a bit of fatigue. An elementary school teacher, she has been seeing an occupational therapist to build her stamina and work towards returning to her classroom full-time.

“I’m still recovering and still have lung damage,” she says. “I had mild asthma and that was exacerbated over the course of a few months after I had COVID.” Marisa is one of close to 400 patients discharged from Royal Columbian’s COVID-19 unit during the pandemic’s first 20 months. Whenever someone is sent home, Ushma says the unit will cheer as the patient leaves. She says there have been many highs and lows. “And the lows are always difficult,” says Ushma. “The staff are always affected by those ones, because you think you've done everything that you possibly can to support this patient, and unfortunately their journey is much different than anticipated.” •




Artist rendering of the new Acute Care Tower, scheduled to be complete in 2025.



he ‘crown jewel’ of Royal Columbian Hospital’s $1.49 billion redevelopment – a new Acute Care Tower – is increasingly taking shape since construction started in 2021. Our vision is to create a world-class hospital: a state-of-the art facility that provides uncompromising care and remarkable patient experiences. With a larger footprint and the introduction of cutting-edge technology, Royal Columbian will continue to respond to the needs of patients in their most urgent, life-altering moments.


of BC’s busiest and most specialized critical care hospitals. Royal Columbian’s redevelopment will create a 60-bed Critical Care Unit on the fourth floor of the new Acute Care Tower to increase capacity. This unit will serve all of Fraser Health and at the moment includes 28 Intensive Care Unit beds, 17 High Acuity Unit beds, and 15 Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit beds. Additionally, the fourth floor will include a 17-bed Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, which will care for critically ill non-surgical cardiac patients, and seven additional medical surgical beds.

Caring for some of the province’s most seriously ill and injured patients, Royal Columbian Hospital is in many ways defined by its critical care services. With a range of services that include trauma care, heart and lung life support, comprehensive stroke care, and most recently in its role as a primary COVID-19 site during the pandemic, Royal Columbian is one 8


A TRANSFORMATION IN EMERGENCY AND TRAUMA CARE The Emergency Department, one of the most highly utilized in the province with over 75,000 visits a year, is the entry point to trauma care, and both services will receive significant additions during phase 2 of its massive hospital redevelopment. The new Acute Care Tower will house a larger Emergency department with 75 stateof-the-art treatment bays – increasing total space by more than half. It will include four trauma bays and a new Imaging Unit, strategically placed within the Emergency Department to drastically speed up access to diagnostic procedures. Also, one operating room will be purpose-built and always available for trauma patients, to help avoid interrupting scheduled surgeries.

A TRANSFORMATION IN INTERVENTIONAL CARE Artist rendering, operating room.

Intervention is at the core of modern health care. Every day,

Four cranes adorn the skyline, in this view of the Acute Care Tower construction site from mid-September 2021.

interventional specialists at Royal Columbian Hospital step forward to turn the tide for their patients – often with minimally-invasive procedures including heart and stroke emergencies. The creation of an interventional super floor in the Acute Care Tower with multiple interventional suites will equip the hospital with advanced, state-of-the art imaging technology that allows for absolute precision. This floor will house eight interventional suites that will be universal, meaning that if needed, any suite could be used for either interventional cardiology or radiology. At opening, three suites will be used for interventional cardiac procedures and five suites for interventional radiology.

A TRANSFORMATION IN CARE FOR FAMILIES With an entire floor devoted to both maternity and neonatal intensive care, along with a new pediatric department, there will be a significant emphasis on family-centered care in the Acute Care Tower. It will house a new 48-bed Maternity department, with most rooms slated to be single-patient rooms to allow families the opportunity to bond in a private and dignified setting. The new NICU will feature 24 singlepatient rooms designed to support babies who require specialized one-to-one care. Most notably, these private rooms, with direct access to natural light, will provide the space

Artist rendering, patient room

Artist rendering, emergency department triage

and furnishings for families to stay with their baby overnight and develop long-term bonds. The NICU will also include respite space for families to gather, prepare snacks and participate in education sessions. The new pediatric unit will provide every child and family with their own private room with an ensuite washroom and a sleeping area. These changes are not only designed to increase capacity and efficiency; they will also allow for increased privacy, patient dignity, and family bonding.

A TRANSFORMATION IN SURGICAL CARE Royal Columbian Hospital’s Surgical Program provides the highest level of care in surgical services to a wide variety of programs including: cardiac, trauma, high risk maternity, vascular, neuroscience, plastics and orthopedics. Close to 10,000 surgical procedures are performed each

year at Royal Columbian Hospital. Almost 50% of these patients are unscheduled, emergency procedures – the highest proportion in the province. This means that staff must be able to adapt to a constantly changing work environment at a moment’s notice. Royal Columbian’s surgical program will benefit from the addition of eight operating rooms in the Acute Care Tower, with three more outfitted for future use. Three ‘hybrid’ operating rooms of more than 860 net square feet will be equipped with state-of-the-art imaging technologies — allowing surgeons to use real-time imaging to diagnose, treat, and evaluate patients quickly, improving the speed and quality of care for complex cases and trauma patients. In addition, three cardiac ORs will open as part of Royal Columbian’s role as the health region’s emergency room for the heart. •



Dave Castle takes care of a client at the barbershop where he suffered a stroke four months earlier.



ave Castle had just wrapped up with a client at his barbershop in Delta when a colleague asked him if something was wrong. Feeling wobbly on his feet, everything around the 73-year-old suddenly went blurry. He slipped in and out of consciousness as the ambulance rushed him to Royal Columbian Hospital and its 24/7 acute stroke

team. “I really had no prior feeling or any indicator,” says Dave. “I remember just kind of coasting, floating backwards. Another barber jumped in and helped me get down to the floor.” At Royal Columbian, a CT scan helped confirm a stroke. Dave was taken to one of the hospital’s angio suites to undergo an emergency


thrombectomy, where the medical team at Royal Columbian would slide a thin catheter from a leg artery right up into the head to grab or suction the clot out. Adding to the challenge, one of Dave’s blood vessels had narrowed, which means interventional radiologist Robert van Wiltenburg first had to open it up with a balloon angioplasty of his carotid artery. “The narrowing is contributing to the stroke, so we have to open up the vessel at the bottom in the neck,” explains Dr. van Wiltenburg. “We put a balloon across, we open up the vessel, then we can get our catheters in there to pull the clot out that’s further down stream in the brain.” Dave spent several days recovering in hospital before returning home. A few weeks later, he returned to Royal Columbian for the next phase in his treatment. This step involved putting a metal stent in the part of the blood vessel that had narrowed. Royal Columbian is one of only a small number of hospitals in the province with the capability of treating strokes with thrombectomy as well as managing narrowed blood vessels with stents. Donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation have since added to the hospital’s technology, by funding some artificial intelligence software that assists the medical team in the patient’s initial diagnosis. “Once the CT scan gets performed, this software will do a preliminary assessment of the brain,” explains interventional radiologist Dr. William Siu. “It will instantaneously notify the physician team of the patient’s status while the patient is still on the CT scanner. A program like this saves us valuable minutes.” Weeks after his stroke, Dave was already back at work and says he feels great. “I have always loved my barbershop. I’ve got customers who came in with their fathers and went in booster chairs. Now they are married with kids, and I’m doing their kids now.” •

Stuart Kovensky (1st on right) with family



ravel is part of the job in the investment management business, and Stuart Kovensky of New York was at the tail end of a week-long trip across Canada when he landed in BC. It was mere days after the 2010 Winter Games, and Kovensky was at a client’s house in White Rock when the 42-year-old was jolted by a pain like nothing he had ever felt before. He would soon end up at Royal Columbian, facing emergency cardiac surgery to save his life. “I felt the pain as if someone had literally ripped open my chest, like if you had a piece of duct tape stuck inside your chest, and someone ripped it off,” Stuart recalls, 11 years later. “I knew immediately that something was wrong.” Less than a year before, Stuart had learned he had a genetic defect in his aortic valve. So, as he headed to

the nearby hospital, Stuart stayed on the phone with his New York-based cardiologist, who told Stuart to hand over the phone to the first health care worker he saw upon arrival. A CT scan at the local hospital revealed a dissecting aorta, which led Stuart to be rushed by ambulance to Royal Columbian, the health region’s emergency room for the heart.

SECOND CHANCE Royal Columbian cardiac surgeon Dr. Shahzad Karim says Stuart had a lifethreatening injury with a survival rate that decreased by the hour. “You have to replace that segment of that aorta, which is where the tear has occurred,” Dr. Karim explains. “We remove and replace the segment that is likely to rupture and could be lifethreatening.” As the OR team prepared for surgery, Dr. Karim briefed Stuart’s wife by

phone. The couple were able to have a brief conversation before Stuart went in for surgery. His valve was replaced with a mechanical valve, while a section of the aorta was replaced with a polyester composite material called Dacron, during a surgery that typically takes four to six hours. A week later, Stuart was able to fly back to New York to his family, which included, at the time, his three preteen children. Years later, he remains grateful for his care. “I know that I got a second chance in my life, and I did not want to give up the opportunity that it provided to spend time with my family and change my priorities,” says Stuart, who has also donated to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. “I can unequivocally say that Dr. Karim and the team there saved my life.” •




Catherine, Trevor and Jack Cornish at Dinosaur Provincial Park last summer.

Your Legacy Matters A New Life, a New Legacy


wasn’t familiar with Royal Columbian Hospital until my husband Trevor and I arrived there for the birth of our son on a January night in 2012. Like most parents, we expected a routine delivery. About three hours into labour, I sensed something wasn’t right. The faces of the nurses turned serious, and their light, easy banter stopped. The baby’s heartrate was dropping. Fast. In what seemed like seconds, the

Easy as Pie


room was full. It was as if everyone had dropped from the ceiling, Mission Impossible style. With military like precision, the team prepared me for an emergency C-section and put me out. There was no time for Trevor to get into scrubs, so he waited outside in the hallway. At 10:37 pm, Jack William Cornish was delivered by Dr. Jagdeep Ubhi. It was just in the nick of time. I learned that for his first few minutes in the outside world, Jack was blue and unresponsive. Under Royal Columbian Hospital neonatologist Dr.

Zenon Cieslak’s care, minutes later he was pink and wailing. About a month after we brought Jack home, Trevor and I realized that now we were parents, we needed to write our Wills. Who would look after Jack if something happened to us? Also, there was something else I felt compelled to do – include a gift in my Will to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. Some moments in life need to be marked, recognized and remembered. Leaving a future legacy gift to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation was my way of expressing my gratitude to Dr. Ubhi, Dr. Cieslak, and the nurses who attended Jack and me that January night, when minutes counted. Best of all, I know my gift will help future patients who come to Royal Columbian when minutes count for them. Today, almost 10 years after Jack was born, I feel fortunate to be part of RCHF’s team. My favourite part of my job is hearing other people’s stories about why our hospital means so much to them. I’d love to hear yours. • Have a story to share? Please reach out to: Catherine Cornish Director, Leadership and Legacy Giving 604 970 5931

Have certainty and control over who gets what after you pass

e often talk to donors eager to arrange a future gift to the Foundation, but who are concerned about leaving enough for their loved ones. They don’t know what their financial situation will be

at the time of their passing, and are mindful of their own financial needs later in life. Here’s how you can ensure your loved ones come first, and give a meaningful gift to support life-saving care at Royal Columbian.


Picture your estate as a pie. When you decide who you want to share it with, you can cut big slices, little slices or somewhere in between. CONTINUED ON PAGE 13

Legacy of Giving Back CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12 You dictate the serving sizes. You can ensure that your loved ones get the biggest portion of your estate. How? Instead of a fixed amount, consider leaving Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation a percentage of your estate. That way, your charitable gift will adjust according to future circumstances, and gifts to loved ones will remain proportional—no matter how your estate fluctuates. Here are three ways to do it: 1. Gift a percentage of your estate to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation in your Will 2. Leave Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation a percentage of your residual estate in your Will (the portion of your estate that remains

Giving is something I believe in. I’ve seen firsthand how funding from donors allows us to deliver excellent care to patients. DR. MARGARET BLACKWELL ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL CARDIOLOGIST

after all gifts and bequests have been made and all claims of the estate are satisfied). 3. Make Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation a partial beneficiary of your registered retirement accounts, tax free savings account, or life insurance policy.These can be divided up like a pie as well, and you choose

Royal Columbian Hospital Cardiologist and legacy gift donor Dr. Margaret Blackwell.

what percentage to give as your charitable gift. Whatever you decide, a gift to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation does not have to be large—every slice makes a difference. •

The Surprise Asset Smart Donors Use to Give

Four ways to use life insurance to make your impact at Royal Columbian


onating a life insurance policy can be an easy way to make a substantial contribution to life-saving care at Royal Columbian. By naming Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation as the beneficiary of your policy, your estate will receive tax benefits. If you designate Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation as the owner and beneficiary of the policy, you can realize those tax benefits today.

There are several ways to make a gift of life insurance. You can: • Name Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation as the beneficiary of your insurance policy. Upon passing, your estate will receive a donation receipt for the full amount that Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation receives under the terms of your policy. • Establish a new policy that designates Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation as the owner and beneficiary. You can then claim any and all premium payments as

I have a young family and of course they come first. When I did the planning, I saw that life insurance was the best way for me to make my legacy gift. COLIN GALINSKI LAWYER AND FORMER BOARD MEMBER, RCHF

a charitable donation on your tax return. • Transfer ownership of an existing policy with premiums still owing. The Foundation will issue a donation receipt for the cash surrender value of the policy. When you make further payments, the Foundation will issue additional annual donation receipts for the value of the premiums. • Donate a fully paid policy you no longer need. The Foundation will immediately issue a donation receipt for the policy’s cash surrender value, plus any accumulated dividends and interest.

Life insurance donor Colin Galinski and family

Why Give a Gift of Life Insurance? • There is no need to involve a lawyer and no legal fees. • It is private. • It cannot be contested. • It is easy to give. Just request a beneficiary designation form from your insurance broker. Whether you need the tax relief today or tomorrow, a gift of life insurance could be right for you. •



Gurcharan Singh Dhindsa underwent an emergency thrombectomy, performed by Dr. William Siu in our Multipurpose Interventional Suite, to remove a blood clot lodged in his carotid artery. Royal Columbian Hospital is one of only three hospitals in the province that can offer this procedure.

The Power of Your Gift With a gift in your Will, you have the power to make a significant impact for our future patients


ere a just a few major projects our legacy gift donors have helped to make possible.

Intensive Care Unit Expansion In 2007, we expanded our ICU from two private rooms and three bays each with four beds per bay to 16 private rooms which included two negative isolation pressure rooms. We also created three private family waiting rooms. This expansion is having a direct impact on our ability to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our healthcare providers have been on the front lines of this fight from the beginning. CONTINUED ON PAGE 15



33-year-old Bridget Colvin spent Christmas 2018 at Royal Columbian after suffering a cardiac arrest at home on Christmas Eve. Bridget had a 100% blockage in her right coronary artery. Interventional cardiologist Dr. Roger Philipp treated the occlusion with a single stent, and Bridget was able to go home just three-and-a-half days later.

The Power of Your Gift CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14

Multipurpose Interventional Suite In October of 2012 we celebrated the opening of our Multipurpose Interventional Suite (MPIS), featuring a first-in-the-region biplane angiography machine. Physicians use this imaging machine during thrombectomies to remove lifethreatening blood clots, neuro-coil procedures to treat brain aneurysms, and electrophysiology procedures to diagnose and correct potentially deadly arrhythmias. Cardiac Catheterization Labs Refurbishment 2016 saw the much-needed refurbishment of our two cardiac catheterization labs, including two new angiography (x-ray) systems for faster, safer procedures. Angiography systems are the backbone of interventional cardiac care. They are essential for the study of arteries and veins in the heart, as the images are the “road map” for lifesaving procedures done via cardiac catheterization, like angioplasty to open clogged arteries. Today, we are home to the busiest cardiac intervention unit in Canada. •

In March of 2020, Roger Pinette became among Royal Columbian’s first COVIDpositive critically ill patients to be ventilated in the ICU. The Langley resident’s lungs were badly inflamed and he was suffering from severe hypoxemic respiratory failure – not enough oxygen in his blood. Roger was finally able to go home in July, after additional stays at two other healthcare facilities four months after first becoming ill.

This document does not constitute legal or financial advice. We recommend that before making a decision on a significant gift to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, you seek independent professional advice to ensure your gift is structured in accordance with your personal circumstance and that the related tax implications have been thoroughly considered. Thank you for considering a gift to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation!

Considering a legacy gift to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation? Let’s chat.

Visit for more information.

CATHERINE CORNISH, CFRE Director, Leadership & Legacy Giving 604 970 5931 ASH HUNKIN Development Officer, Legacy Giving 236 632 2088 ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION | YOUR HEALTH MATTERS




akayla Burry did not expect to hear her newborn son cry right away, and the sound brought her and her husband to tears. In late January 2021, Marcus came into the world, extremely premature: 24 weeks and four days and weighing just 755 grams. After being delivered by emergency C-section and letting out his first cry, Marcus was quickly put under the care of Royal Columbian Hospital’s Variety Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he would spend more than four months, surviving a number of complications before heading home. “I was really sick the whole pregnancy,” recalls Makayla, who lives in Surrey. “I was in the hospital for a week because I just couldn’t keep anything down. They were just giving me IV nutrition and fluids.” Halfway through her second trimester, Makayla required a cervical cerclage, a procedure meant to reinforce the cervix that is at risk of opening early. Later in the same trimester, her water broke. “I was leaking fluid a little bit,” says Makayla. “Things didn’t seem right, and I started to have contractions.” Makayla’s suspicions were confirmed during a check-up in Surrey. Royal Columbian Hospital was notified she was on her way. “I wanted to deliver the baby before he became too sick,” says Royal Columbian obstetrician Dr. Douglas Waterman. “We can’t keep the baby safe once there is an intrauterine infection. The main thing is to deliver the baby in good condition.”

MICRO PREEMIE “We didn’t expect him to give us a cry,” says Makayla about the surprise of hearing her baby right after he was delivered in late January 2021. “It was honestly amazing. To this day, it always makes me so happy to be able to hear that.” 16


Marcus Burry spent 132 days in Royal Columbian Hospital’s Variety Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after being born at only 24 weeks and four days.

Marcus, his parents, and staff from the NICU.

While Makayla received follow-up care, Marcus was intubated and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit with dad in tow. For the next 132 days, the family’s world would revolve around the NICU, experiencing many ups and downs and developing a growing appreciation for the hospital’s neonatal team. “Micro preemies account for less than two-percent of preterm births,” notes Royal Columbian neonatologist Dr. Mudaffer Al-Mudaffer. “They need really special care from highly trained professionals. We have to manage a number of issues together.” During the first few days, Marcus required several blood transfusions and antibiotics. There was bleeding around the left side of his brain. “We didn’t know if he was going to make it or not,” says Makayla. Ten days into their stay, with Marcus still connected to a jet ventilator, Makayla was able to hold him for the first time. “At first, it was so scary because there’s so many people that need to help you get him into the right place,”

Makayla remembers. “Thankfully, the RTs (respiratory therapists) and the nurses were there to go through it with me. It made it a lot easier. It was amazing when I was actually sitting down with him.”

BREATHING PROGRESS Marcus remained on a ventilator for the first few weeks after he was born. His first attempt at getting off the ventilator lasted a half hour. But two days later, he made the transition to a less invasive form of breathing support. “I came into the NICU to the best surprise of seeing him off the ventilator and on CPAP,” says Makayla. “It was so amazing. I’m really glad they kept it as a surprise for me.” Nine weeks after his birth, Marcus moved from an incubator to a crib and was big enough to wear clothes. Slowly, Marcus was getting stronger and needing fewer medical supports. In May, Makayla’s grandfather passed away on Vancouver Island. By this point, she felt comfortable enough with the neonatal staff that she could

go mourn his loss. “They made everything so much easier and better to be able to leave my Marcus and go say goodbye to my grandfather,” she says. “The nurses sent pictures of Marcus every day.” Ten days before the start of summer, Marcus was finally healthy enough to go home. And five months after that, Makayla says her son is doing great. “He’s doing amazing,” she reports. “He has his G-tube (feeding tube), but he’s eating everything by mouth. Developmentally, he’s doing amazing. Everybody is so impressed with all his milestones.” After their lengthy stay, Makayla feels close to the neonatal team. She also hopes her story will provide support to other parents who may be in a similar situation. “Some days you feel like you’re going to be there forever, and it’s never going to end,” she says. “But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think that was the hardest part for me. I hope sharing my story will help other parents see what the journey is about.” •



The foundation-funded Quality Improvement program at Royal Columbian Hospital, including an annual QI Day, encourages clinical care staff to identify strategies and solutions for innovation and improvement. (photo from 2019)



uch like the way we have adjusted our lives throughout the pandemic to follow the latest COVID-19 public health guidelines, hospital caregivers revise their approach to patient care when they can identify an opportunity to improve. At Royal Columbian Hospital, there has been a focus during the last few years on fostering a culture of quality improvement, and their efforts have resulted in some recent international recognition. “We tend to have a good idea in healthcare what needs to happen to improve something like patient outcomes, infection levels, or length of stay,” says surgeon Dr. John Hwang, who helps lead quality improvement efforts at Royal Columbian. “But medicine and healthcare questions


are so complex, it’s often more complicated than it first appears. It’s helpful to have a certain culture and a certain technique to get there.” With support from donors and sponsors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, the hospital has launched dozens of initiatives in recent years to improve patient experiences, reduce hospital stays, lower infection rates, and decrease healthcare costs. “The Foundation has really focused on frontline engagement and events that promote a healthy provider population, promote professional development and learning how to do quality improvement,” notes Dr. Hwang. “It builds a culture where people feel safe and comfortable to suggest new things and to keep on improving their care.”


The efforts have recently resulted in some accolades for the hospital. The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) has recognized Royal Columbian as having achieved meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care in 2020. “It’s a pretty big deal,” says Dr. Hwang. “One of the benefits of the NSQIP database is that we can benchmark ourselves against comparable hospitals around the world. And we came out in the top 15%.” Dr. Hwang notes Royal Columbian signed up to the database 13 years ago, and there’s a lot of work that has gone into reaching this stage. “We are among the highest acuity hospitals, and we have among the best results in the world,” he adds. •

LEADERSHIP EXPANSION In September 2021, gastroenterologist Dr. Ken Atkinson became Royal Columbian Hospital’s site medical director amid an ongoing global pandemic and a major hospital redevelopment. Foundation: You became site medical director as the pandemic’s fourth wave was starting to pick up. What are you hearing from your colleagues about the ongoing strain of COVID-19? KA: There is fatigue for sure, and we are trying to support each other across the hospital. We have been through a number of ups and downs these last couple of years, and we all want this pandemic to come to an end. But we have also seen how the situation has brought us closer together as medical teams, and there’s something inspirational about that. We are also grateful whenever we hear about the community’s support. Foundation: In your role as gastroenterologist, how have donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation supported your work? KA: I arrived at Royal Columbian in 1998. I could tell we were building a GI program here, and it was a great hospital. We were looking for support to expand our services and create a program to serve the region. Thanks to the generosity and drive of one couple in particular, we were successful. I can honestly say it would not have happened without Diane and Ed Les. Foundation: You have taken an active role in research projects during your career. Why are you drawn to research? KA: Research is the foundation of innovation clinical practice. It is a privilege and responsibility to patients that I take very seriously. Without clinical research, we cannot improve patient care. Foundation: Construction of the new Acute Care Tower is moving along as part of the hospital’s redevelopment. What is it going to mean for Royal Columbian? KA: The building and expansion of the new tower for Royal Columbian will allow us to be at the forefront of patient care and continue to expand our role as leaders in tertiary care services. This includes all areas of tertiary care including emergency services, cardiac, neurosciences, interventional radiology and gastroenterology, renal and urological care, critical care, all surgical specialties and medical specialties, women and children’s care and mental health. • ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION | YOUR HEALTH MATTERS


Caring from Hospital to Home Getting a loved one home from the hospital isn’t just about arranging transportation. Choosing the right post-hospital care is essential for a full recovery. Our Talent is caring™, for you and the person you love.


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