Your Health Matters spring 2017

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Your Health Matters SPRING/SUMMER 2017 EDITION



Trauma care program recognized nationally

+ PATIENT-CENTRED DESIGN Inside the thought process behind the new Mental Health and Substance Use Centre

+ EXTREME INTERVENTION Royal Columbian’s hour-long effort to restore a Coquitlam principal’s heartbeat

+ FROM APPREHENSION TO AWE North Vancouver physicians praise Royal Columbian’s NICU

A new look for the next evolution Royal Columbian Hospital’s story is one of many transformations since it first opened in 1862 with capacity for 30 patients. To help meet the needs of a growing region, the hospital has expanded numerous times. Today, significant hospital redevelopment plans are taking shape, and Royal Columbian is on the cusp of its next major evolution. For Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, the time is right to take our next step forward too. With this edition of Your Health Matters, we are pleased to introduce a new look for the Foundation. From the colours we use, to the imagery we share and the logo that announces who we are, we wish to honour Royal Columbian Hospital’s role as a major critical care centre with a highly skilled team that is determined to save the lives of some of the province’s most seriously ill and injured patients. If you or a loved one has come through the doors of the hospital, you already know why a third of British Columbians rely on Royal Columbian for critical care. We are the only hospital in the province with trauma, cardiac, neurosciences, high-risk maternity and neonatal intensive care all on one site, with the expertise to deliver that care at its highest level. As a charitable organization that was created to support the needs of the hospital, we take our responsibility seriously. Time and time again, we see the difference our donors make in helping give patients their greatest chance at life. We are proud to unveil a new look for the Foundation, and we hope you will join us as hospital redevelopment takes shape.

Doug Eveneshen

Chair, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation



Jeff Norris

President & CEO, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation



We welcome your comments on Your Health Matters magazine. Please email or write to us c/o Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, 330 East Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC 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.


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Inspired giving

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Extreme intervention


From apprehension to awe

Inside the thought process behind the new Mental Health and Substance Use Wellness Centre


Abnormal protein

Excellence and leadership


Behind-the-scenes briefs


Cherished hearts

If you’ve been given one of these pillows, you’ve earned membership to an exclusive club



Centre of the brain

Neurosurgeon works to save young woman, with only minutes to spare

Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation Chair Doug Eveneshen and Foundation President and CEO Jeff Norris

Patient-centred design

Trauma care program recognized nationally

Royal Columbian’s hour-long effort to restore a Coquitlam principal’s heartbeat North Vancouver physicians praise Royal Columbian’s NICU after premature birth of daughter Bright space, attentive staff help ease anxieties during cancer treatments

Life support

Unique Royal Columbian team travels to other hospitals in life-and-death moments ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION I YOUR HEALTH MATTERS



Keeping your children entertained while visiting Royal Columbian Hospital is easier to do courtesy of two local groups. The Group of Five and Friends Benevolent Society along with the Rotary Club of New Westminster provided just over $7,500 to fund a children’s play area and mural next to Royal Columbian Hospital’s Ambulatory Care department.

Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation has recognized its inaugural Champions of Philanthropy from the hospital. Chair Doug Eveneshen presented the award to Queenie Lai, Dr. Feisal Mohamedali, Dr. Joelle Bradley, Dr. Laurence Turner and Dianne Laird.

Ed Les, with gastroenterologist Dr. Ken Atkinson, poses with one of the new

The Westminster Shrine Club #8 has been giving generously to the hospital in support of newborns and children since the 1980s. For the latest Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation news, follow us:




By subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter at

scopes purchased with his latest generous contribution. Over the years, the Les family has helped make significant equipment purchases in the GI Clinic and other hospital departments.


On Facebook: RoyalColumbian


On Twitter: @RoyalColumbian

“I’m not rich, and I’m not poor, but I have the time and the want to be in the hospital.” – Diane Falk

Cherished hearts If you’ve been given one of these pillows, you’ve earned membership to an exclusive club It’s a club with more than 17,000 reluctant members, and you can identify them by the heart-shaped pillows they clutch as they leave Royal Columbian Hospital. They are the patients who have had open-heart surgery at BC’s busiest cardiac care centre, and those pillows are created by a small team of volunteers led by an 80-year-old former nurse who has been giving her time to the hospital for four decades. “I’m not rich, and I’m not poor, but I have the time and the want to be in the hospital,” says Diane Falk about her start with Royal Columbian Hospital’s Auxiliary in 1977. “I just like people, and I like helping them.” It was in 1991 that Royal Columbian Hospital launched its open-heart surgery program. Diane was part of the volunteer planning committee and soon adopted an

idea presented by Dr. Dave Hilton. She would oversee the supply of heart pillows to be used to support the chest and provide comfort as cardiac patients perform respiratory exercises following surgery. “I call it a security blanket,” Diane says.

Happy heart

Remarkably, while the hospital’s cardiac program has grown substantially over the years, the group of volunteers that manages the heart pillows has remained small. “When we first started open-heart surgery, we didn’t do more than five in a week,” recalls Diane. “They didn’t have to make too many pillows. Of course, that’s grown now. We do 25 in a week, and then we have the emergencies.” Diane keeps track of the supply and distribution, while Cathie Kabool stitches them together, a role she took over from her mother

many years ago. Meantime, fellow Auxiliary member Lorraine Black stuffs the pillows and helps Diane prepare the packages that are given to patients. “It goes so well, just with the same people; it goes like clockwork,” says Diane. “I am very proud to say if something happened to any of us, they would not have to worry about pillows, because we have at least two weeks done up, three weeks sometimes, ahead.” Diane hears from many patients who appreciate the pillow, which are regularly signed with notes of encouragement by the cardiac team, while the doctor can sketch out the procedure for reference. “It makes me feel good,” says Diane. “I don’t get paid for what I do, but I do get paid. I have a happy heart when I go home at night.”



Redevelopment feature

PatienTcentred design Inside the thought process behind the new Mental Health and Substance Use Centre

for almost five of his 35 years in mental Sherbrooke served its purpose rather “Decisions we’re making right now health care. “We plan to remedy that well,” says Mark. “But as a place for will impact mental health care at with our new Centre.” mental health patients — well, it has its our hospital for decades to come,” To get the new building’s design limitations.” says Mark Welch, Royal Columbian just right, the team tapped into “Sherbrooke doesn’t have enough Hospital’s Redevelopment’s Project their collective wisdom. “Nurses, beds or space, and the facility is very Planning Leader for Clinical Programs. psychiatrists, therapists, hospital outdated,” says Mark, “It’s a huge leaders, and support staff have all who has worked there responsibility, Overview of but also a wonderful plans to redevelop opportunity Royal Columbian Phase 1 Phase 1 Phase 2 to improve INTERIM HELIPORT REPLACEMENT PARKING PERMANENT HELIPORT our patients’ Hospital. experience and SITE FOR outcomes.” SITE FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT FUTURE DEVELOPMENT A new 75-bed Mental Health and Substance Use Centre is what Mark’s Phase 3 Phase 2 referring to. It’s the centrepiece of HOSPITAL RENOVATIONS NEW ACUTE CARE TOWER, EMERGENCY & PARKADE Phase One of hospital redevelopment Phase 1 Phase 1 and will replace the aging 30NEW MENTAL HEALTH AND NEW ENERGY CENTRE SUBSTANCE USE, & PARKADE bed Sherbrooke Centre by 2020. Sherbrooke was originally built as a Brunette Avenue nurses’ residence over 60 years ago but has been used for mental health patients since 1981. “As a nurses’ dorm,



and healing so people feel safe and able to express their true feelings was a top priority for everyone.” “We want our new space to be inviting, soothing, and spacious — like a beautiful, healing sanctuary with lots of light, art, and even access to nature,” says Mark. “When you first walk through the door you should feel safe and like you’re going to get better.” We want to create a beautiful healing sanctuary for mental health patients

Outdoor spaces like this one at Royal Columbian Hospital are being planned for the new Mental Health and Substance Use Centre. The Foundation is raising $9.1 million for the new centre. provided input into how we can integrate best practices and modern standards in order to elevate patientcentred care,” says Mark. “We started by asking what kind of care have we always wanted to give and what environment have we wanted to create, but Sherbrooke wouldn’t let us.” People who’ve experienced mental illness, and their families, were also asked for their input. They helped validate the long list of requirements that had been developed. “We want the building’s design, and even its décor, to be part of the therapy toolkit we use to positively affect people’s moods,” says Mark. “Creating an ambience of well-being, positivity,

The design and layout will give patients more control of their environment, too. This can support a sense of autonomy and wellbeing, and even their engagement in therapy. Every floor will have spaces that allow for all levels of interaction, from very personal and private conversations, to larger group and social gatherings, to alone time outdoors, or workout time in exercise rooms. The new Older Adult Psychiatric Unit, Fraser Health’s first, will also have a walking loop to help elderly patients walk off anxiety and improve mobility. Every patient will have their own private room and ensuite bathroom that feels like a personal retreat. “Our goal is to create a more home-like environment that feels much less institutional,” says Mark. Having a space like this will go a long way to helping recovery. “Our patients come to us in crisis, and it’s our job to show them humanity, soothe their anxiety, and enhance their self-worth while they’re in our care. When they leave us, we want it to be with a sense of growth and personal insight, and renewed strength and resilience that helps them cope better with life and any future crisis,” emphasizes Mark. “Improving the patients’ experience has a positive effect on nurses, care staff and psychiatrists too,” adds Mark. “When our patients do better it makes our work more fulfilling and keeps us


There’s a lot for patients and their families to like about our future Mental Health and Substance Use Centre.

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150% MORE BEDS With 45 more beds, for a total of 75, and with 4½ times more space, we’ll be able to treat 800 more inpatients each year.

PATIENT-CENTRED DESIGN Our new Centre will be designed specifically for mental health and be a welcoming, beautiful space to help patients feel better, faster, and for longer.

SPECIAL UNIT FOR OLDER ADULTS One entire floor will house Fraser Health’s first Older Adult Psychiatric Unit with 20 beds to care for seniors dealing with acute depression, anxiety or psychosis.

PRIVATE PATIENT ROOMS For improved privacy each patient will have their own room and ensuite bathroom with some of the comforts of home in a personal retreat.

OUTDOOR PATIOS If people want to enjoy the morning sun there will be an outdoor patio on every inpatient floor, that’s safe and secure, to allow them to connect with nature.

SPACE TO BE SOCIAL OR ALONE Every inpatient unit will have a lounge to visit with family, friends, and other patients, plus a comfort room for solitude or quiet time.

LOTS OF NATURAL LIGHTING Windows, natural lighting, and art will all help to create a mood of sanctuary, well-being, and positivity to help patients know they’re valued and respected.

A PLACE TO EXERCISE Patients will be able to use an exercise room and life skills assessment room on each floor to help them get into shape for life, work, and the road to recovery.

Coming by early 2020 to Royal Columbian Hospital

engaged and motivated...and that in turn affects our patients, creating a nice positive cycle.” “We expect our new state-of-theart building will help more of those positive human connections to happen,” ends Mark. “After all, human connection is such a big part of the hospital experience, especially in mental health care.” ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION I YOUR HEALTH MATTERS


More people who have suffered a traumatic injury are flown directly to Royal Columbian Hospital than any other hospital in the province.

Excellence and leadership Trauma care program recognized nationally

Tom Leggett with his son.


Five years later, Tom Leggett seems comfortable talking about the fall that left him with a traumatic brain injury. What’s more painful is thinking about who found him laying on the concrete driveway of his Coquitlam home, his skull fractured, several broken ribs, and struggling unsuccessfully to get back up. Before his teenage son discovered him on the ground, Tom had been on a ladder, working on his home. He was rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital, one of the province’s two major adult trauma centres. “The toughest part was that my son had to see that,” says Tom, who spent close to two weeks in hospital and many months recovering enough to return to work and resume some of his previous activities. Falls account for more than half of the traumatic injuries that send people to the hospital. Of those, almost a third involve a


ladder. Men make up most of these cases. And the number is highest in certain months: June through September, when a lot of house work gets done outside; and then again in December, when people hang lights and ornaments, both inside and outside the home.

Team effort

In 2016, Royal Columbian Hospital and the rest of Fraser Health were recognized nationally for clinical excellence and an outstanding commitment to leadership in trauma services. Fraser Health is the second health authority in Canada to have successfully undergone Accreditation Canada’s evaluation process. Royal Columbian’s trauma program is one of the busiest in the country and involves a team made up of emergency physicians, surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and social workers. They are ready 24/7 to respond as some of the most seriously injured patients in the province are rushed here by ambulance or helicopter. “I really am, and will remain, indebted to the care that I received,” says Tom, who shared his story with donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation during an event close to the fifth anniversary of his traumatic injury. “If it wasn’t for the care, I wouldn’t be here.”

Centre of the brain Neurosurgeon works to save young woman, with only minutes to spare Darby Hamilton had learned to live with the headaches that had plagued her for the past couple of years. But this time was unlike anything she had ever felt before. The pain left the 26-yearold Mission resident screaming in agony. She eventually would be transported to Royal Columbian Hospital – the region’s brain and spine centre – where she soon slipped into a coma and, according to her neurosurgeon, was minutes away from death. “It was on the left side of my head, just an agonizing pain,” recalls Darby. “It was incomparable to a normal headache.” Unbeknownst to her, Darby had a colloid cyst, a benign tumour that was located right in the geographic centre of her brain. It was blocking the regular flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a condition called hydrocephalus, causing immense pressure in her head. “The day that Darby presented, she came closer to death than anyone that I have ever looked after,” says neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Nikolakis. Upon arrival, both of Darby’s pupils

Darby Hamilton and husband Scott Mitchell. dilated and no longer reacted to light. “To have both pupils dilated and non-reactive in a patient that is comatose usually indicates they are well on their way to brain death,” says Dr. Nikolakis. Darby was rushed into the operating room for an emergency procedure to ease the pressure in her head. Dr. Nikolakis inserted two catheters to drain the fluid. Darby was stabilized.

Darby Hamilton Back to life

needed emergency neurosurgery

But the medical team still had to remove the tumour after a brain from its very difficult tumour caused and dangerous location. To give Darby her best life-threatening chance at a full recovery, pressure to build Royal Columbian Hospital ordered a new piece of in her head. equipment that had never been used before in its facilities. The NICO BrainPath allowed Dr. Nikolakis to slide a microcatheter right next to the tumour and gradually cut it off in pieces. The device arrived in just over a week, as Darby rested in hospital, and Dr. Nikolakis says the operation went smoothly. “It essentially caused no brain damage on our way in or out,” notes Dr. Nikolakis. “Darby woke up neurologically intact.” Now, four months later, Darby has not had a single headache. She’s returned to work and her only side-effect is a droop on one side of her face. “Every single nurse that I dealt with was so compassionate, and they clearly love what they do,” says Darby. “The doctors, they are just wonderful. Dr. Nikolakis, I mean, he saved my life. I couldn’t say more angelic things about the man. I just love this hospital.” ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION I YOUR HEALTH MATTERS


Extreme intervention

Como Lake Middle School principal Darren Stewart is back to work a few months after a near fatal cardiac arrest.

Royal Columbian’s hour-long effort to restore a Coquitlam principal’s heartbeat 10

As students enjoyed the first days of summer vacation, Darren Stewart was closing the books on another school year. The 49-yearold principal of Como Lake Middle School in Coquitlam was at home, winding down for the night, when he first grew uncomfortable. He thought it might be indigestion, but it eventually progressed to a cold and clammy feeling. By early next morning, Darren’s condition would dramatically deteriorate, necessitating a major lifesaving effort at Royal Columbian Hospital. “I would go to bed and try to fall asleep, but it wasn’t happening,” remembers Darren about a restless night trying to shake off his symptoms. “Eventually, I said to my wife we need to phone 911.” First responders confirmed Darren was having a heart attack, and he was sent by ambulance to Royal Columbian Hospital – the region’s emergency cardiac care centre and the busiest one in the province.


Cardiac emergencies The hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab diagnoses and treats thousands of people each year, using catheters, balloons and stents to quickly restore the blood flow in blocked arteries without the need for major surgery. In recent months, donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation have been helping to completely upgrade the equipment in both cath lab suites, ensuring the facility can continue to provide the highest level of care during cardiac emergencies. For Darren, his emergency took on a whole new level of intensity even before he was brought to the cath lab. Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, his heart completely stopped. “He had incessant cardiac arrests in the emergency room,” says interventional cardiologist Dr. Gerald Simkus. “He had to be defibrillated multiple, multiple times, every

Donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation have been funding a complete upgrade of the equipment inside the cardiac catheterization lab, where patients are diagnosed and treated without the need for open-heart surgery. minute or two.” As they tried repeatedly to restore a heartbeat, the medical team also turned to the Lucas 2, a donorfunded mechanical CPR system that delivers consistent and regular chest compressions to keep the blood flowing. “The Lucas gives us very supportable compressions without somebody getting fatigued,” explains Dr. Simkus. Despite numerous attempts to stabilize him, Darren wasn’t getting any better. In an extreme example of a cardiac intervention, the decision was made to rush him to the cath lab while still undergoing regular defibrillation and mechanical CPR. “We would clear, zap, and go back to work,” says Dr. Simkus.

Working around all of this activity, Dr. Simkus and the cath lab team managed to identify the problem artery and open it with a balloon and stent. Close to an hour after Darren first went into cardiac arrest, he finally stabilized.

Feeling fortunate “I just feel very lucky and fortunate,” says Darren about the medical efforts required to save his life. “Having the Lucas machine available and of course, an amazing ER team willing to keep working with me is very humbling. To think that this is my story is very surreal.” He’s equally impressed with the care he received during his recovery and the way his loved ones were treated. “I remember just watching the nurses care for my wife and kids and family and friends who were there,”

says Darren. “Not only are they treating me, but they are protecting them as well and just being super friendly.” Among his most memorable moments during his two weeks in hospital was encountering former students who were now working as nurses. “It was cool to see them in their environment,” says Darren. Four months after his near fatal cardiac arrest, he’s feeling good and is eager to resume his regular life. “I have begun a gradual return to work, and I am working out with the Healthy Heart exercise program three times a week,” he notes. “Along with getting back to exercising again, which feels great, I am reading labels a lot more carefully and making sure I enjoy and appreciate every moment.”

A Year Inside BC’s Busiest Cardiac Care Centre


Diagnostic Catheterizations



53,000 electrocardiograms 7,000 echocardiograms

750 emergent heart attacks 950 open-heart surgeries More than1,150 patients in the cardiac surgery ICU



From apprehension to awe

North Vancouver physicians praise Royal Columbian’s NICU after premature birth of daughter It was a complete shock when Sarah Senft’s water broke. The North Shore family physician was not yet 30 weeks pregnant. She and her husband Riley, an anesthesiologist, were in California at the time for a family wedding. While the couple tried to stay calm, it was the start of a whirlwind of events that led them to be airlifted unexpectedly to Royal Columbian Hospital, where Zoe Senft was born several hours later, 10 weeks premature. Sarah says her pregnancy, up until then,



had gone smoothly. An ultrasound just before the trip had found the umbilical cord had two vessels instead of the usual three. But Zoe’s weight at the time was just fine. After her water broke in the early morning, Sarah was transported to a nearby hospital with maternity services. Since she was only 29 weeks pregnant, the initial plan was to try to delay the birth for as long as possible. “I did have some contractions,” recalls

Sarah. “They started me on a medication Sarah and Riley called magnesium Senft with their sulphate that stopped children. Their the contractions, so I wasn’t actually daughter Zoe was in labour. We were born 10 weeks hoping to keep her in, obviously, for as long premature at Royal as possible.” Columbian Hospital. While Sarah was on strict bed rest in hospital, the couple worked with their insurance company to find a way to safely get back to British Columbia. Two days after being admitted, a travel nurse confirmed they would be sent by air

they do something for Zoe, I would cry.”

High regard While Sarah and Riley were understandably anxious, they soon became impressed by the neonatal team that looked after Zoe for close to two months. “I would have thought that working as a physician in the Lower Mainland, that I would have known we had the best NICU in Canada at Royal Columbian,” says Riley. “The neonatologists were awesome. The nurses were very knowledgeable and incredibly helpful. The physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians were all amazing.” With the help of incubators, ventilators, and an entire team of caregivers, Zoe grew stronger

ambulance to Royal Columbian Hospital.

High-risk centre As a high-risk maternity centre with a neonatal team that is trained and equipped to care for the smallest and most fragile newborns, Royal Columbian Hospital sees patients from all over the province. The hospital is consistently ranked one of the top in the country in caring for infants in its Variety Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Neither Sarah nor Riley knew much about Royal Columbian at the time and felt apprehensive about going there. “I was just scared something was going to happen, and we weren’t going to be in the place we should be,” Riley says. “I didn’t realize Royal Columbian had such a large NICU and offers that kind of care,” adds Sarah. After receiving reassurances from the travel nurse, the couple arrived at Royal Columbian, hoping they could continue to delay Zoe’s arrival for as long as possible. But Sarah’s blood pressure and liver enzymes were skyrocketing. It became clear this was an obstetrical emergency. “She had all the symptoms associated with HELLP syndrome,” says Riley. “HELLP syndrome doesn’t get better by itself. The only treatment for it is delivery of the baby.” HELLP syndrome is believed to be related to preeclampsia, which is a complication in a small number of pregnancies that causes high blood pressure and can be life-threatening to both mother and baby. “I was the poor obstetrician’s first patient of the day,” laughs Sarah. An emergency C-section was scheduled, and Zoe was born at 29 weeks and six days, weighing two pounds eight ounces. The newborn girl was quickly whisked away to the NICU. “The worst possible scenarios were going through my head,” says Sarah, who spent six months training in a NICU in Ireland before she moved to Canada. “Every time they suggested

Zoe Senft, five months after being born prematurely at Royal Columbian.

and her breathing improved. She went home after 53 days in the NICU. Following their positive experience, the two doctors have approached Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation to talk about ways of helping with the NICU’s equipment needs. They also want everyone to know just how highly they think of the hospital. “They have an awesome NICU,” says Riley. “I want my friends to know that if they get in trouble, that’s where they should go.” “If we ever go down that route again, we definitely would choose Royal Columbian,” adds Sarah. ROYAL COLUMBIAN HOSPITAL FOUNDATION I YOUR HEALTH MATTERS


“Then we usually stop, we’ll watch them and hope they have a long remission. Whenever they need more treatment, we’ll come back with another combination of drugs.”


From patient to volunteer Located on the bottom floor of the hospital’s Columbia Tower, the Medical Daycare Clinic provides a space for patients to receive their cancer treatment under the helpful supervision of medical staff. “They were very attentive,” Cathy notes. “I tried to use their time wisely when I was seeing them, because when you’re having an IV, they check on you often.” The space also has the added benefit of having been renovated in recent years with the help of donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. “It’s a very nice space with the soothing colours,” says Cathy. “The colour of the glass and the lighting is such that you wouldn’t realize you

Cathy MacDonald revisits Royal Columbian’s Medical Daycare Clinic, where she received regular cancer treatment for 11 months.

Bright space, attentive staff help ease anxieties during cancer treatments


Cathy MacDonald suspected something had changed when even a walk up the driveway or a simple stroll along a flat path began to challenge her stamina. Still, the results of a bone marrow test came as a shock. The 63-yearold Belcarra resident was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that forms in plasma cells and is typically incurable. “When I found out that I had it, I knew I wasn’t going to look on the Internet,” says Cathy. “The one day I did do it, I couldn’t sleep


that whole night.” She focused on her treatment, which required almost weekly visits to Royal Columbian Hospital’s Medical Daycare Clinic for close to 11 months and involved a cocktail of drugs, some taken intravenously (IV) and others in the form of pills. This length of treatment is typical for people who are given the drug cocktail, according to Royal Columbian Hospital oncologist Dr. Michael Noble. “Patients seem to do better with prolonged treatment,” says Dr. Noble.

are in the basement.” After all those visits lasting nearly a year, Cathy finally received the big news. She was now in remission. “It was unbelievable,” she says. These days, she is tested every three months. “Usually, the first sign of a relapse is a change in the lab work,” explains Dr. Noble. “We follow abnormal protein levels in the blood and sometimes the urine.” While her treatment ended, Cathy decided to continue her regular visits to the hospital, this time by volunteering with the Foundation. “This has been a way for me to give back to the hospital in addition to making a donation in support of Medical Daycare,” she says. “My hearftfelt thanks for the exceptional care, support and treatment to Dr. Noble and everyone who looked after me.”

LIFE SUPPORT As Royal Columbian Hospital’s Chief of Perfusion, Dustin Spratt is part of a unique team that is available 24/7 to take over the care of patients from throughout the region who are facing death because of failing lungs and/or heart. The Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) team travels to other hospitals to bring these patients back to Royal Columbian. A generous gift from Jeannette and Stan Hrescak recently helped to purchase the world’s smallest heart and lung machine for the ECLS team’s work. Maquet Getinge Group, the company behind that CARDIOHELP system, also made their own gift to support the service.

Foundation: Perfusion is a medical specialty you don’t find at every hospital. What is it? DS: A perfusionist is somebody who uses mechanical means to circulate the blood through the patient. They use a heart and lung machine to take over the function of those organs. Predominantly, open heart surgery is where we use the heart and lung machine. It allows the surgeon to do the surgery. Foundation: What is ECLS (sometimes known as ECMO)? DS: Extracorporeal Life Support is a modification of the heartlung machine to a smaller, more compact version that can be used outside the operating room. We can use that in places like the Emergency Department or the Intensive Care Unit to support patients that are in critical heart or lung failure. It’s really used to support the heart and lungs when they are failing and the patient is at imminent risk of death. Foundation: What makes Royal Columbian Hospital’s ECLS program unique? DS: We’re very proud that we were the first in BC and currently still the only ECLS retrieval program in the province. Because of the large geographic region in Fraser Health, we realized we needed to be able to move this piece of equipment to other facilities for patients who are deteriorating very quickly because their heart and/or lungs are failing. When we get the call, an ambulance will take us to the outlying hospital. We can quickly place the patient on to ECLS and stabilize them. That allows us the time to safely transport them back to Royal Columbian to continue more advanced care that is not offered at the smaller facilities. Foundation: How have donors supported the team’s work over the years?

DS: I don’t think we would have had a retrieval program without generous donations to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. A few years ago, donors helped us purchase the first custom ECLS stretcher in Canada. Recently, donors have funded this new, lightweight heart and lung machine that will make it even safer and quicker for us to deploy and transport patients.



Wesgroup is a proud supporter of the Royal Columbian Hospital and an advocate to advancing the health care facilities in BC’s fastest growing region.