in this issue: MESSAGE FROM UHKF’S PRESIDENT AND CEO Page 2
DONOR-FUNDED TECHNOLOGY SAVES LIVES AND INSPIRES HOPE Page 3
UNDERSTANDING HOW MRNA VACCINES WORK Page 6 Pictured: Emily Rack.
Spotlight on Research: Amazing Research happening locally Emily Rack was 34 weeks pregnant when she noticed a rash on her back following a walk in the woods. A few weeks later, a stroke-like episode turned the entire right side of her body numb, she became unable to speak and her vision became blurry. “It was very stressful,” says Emily. “I was initially told that it was a migraine and sent home without any relief. When things got worse, I was admitted for more tests but they didn’t show anything sinister. It was a mystery and I was left without a treatment plan.” Four months later, after giving birth to her healthy child, Emily began developing many more symptoms. She tested positive for Lyme Disease and received brief antibiotic treatment. Her symptoms generally improved, but vision problems, arthritis, nerve pain and cognitive impairment remained. She was offered minimal treatment to help resolve the symptoms.
Lyme Disease is a tick-borne disease that is emerging rapidly across Canada, especially in southeastern Ontario, one of the most affected regions. Since 2006, documented cases in our region have increased from just 10 to 20 cases per year to over 500. Stories like Emily’s are all too familiar for a disease that is difficult to diagnose. “If caught early, then Lyme Disease can almost always be cured,” says Dr. Kieran Moore, Principal Investigator and Director of the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network (CLyDRN). “But the biggest issue is trying to improve clinical awareness, education of healthcare providers and the public, as well as to improve diagnostics, because in the first several weeks of the illness, the blood tests can be negative.” Continued on page 2...
Spotlight on Research: Amazing Research happening locally Continued from page 1. “Our network is based out of Kingston with over 50 researchers across the country,” says Dr. Moore. “The goal of our research is to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. We are collecting patient blood and tissue samples to help us improve diagnoses and patient outcomes, but the more the better. We’re also working towards possibly becoming a vaccine testing site.”
After two-and-a-half years of trial and error, Emily finally has most of her symptoms under control. Community investment into local research, similar to that of CLyDRN, is possible through University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) funds for research and innovation. This support is vital in helping our local medical experts gain valuable knowledge that directly affects patients like Emily.
“I’m about 70 per cent back to normal,” says Emily. “It has been very frustrating, especially because there is no treatment for people with persistent ‘longhaul’ symptoms. My hope is that the Research Network will help medical professionals diagnose and treat people like me far earlier. Maybe they’ll eventually prevent this horrible disease once and for all.”
Message from UHKF President and CEO, Tamás (Tom) Zsolnay Our world has continued to change significantly over the last few months. Not only has the weather improved but we are getting closer every day to ending this pandemic. Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Providence Care have moved forward with unrelenting dedication and creativity. New hospital spaces have been opened to provide more beds for local patients, and healthcare teams have reacted to ever-changing protocols. KHSC and Providence Care Hospital have also accepted
patients from other areas in the province with a higher COVID prevalence to help our neighbours maintain their levels of care. The perseverance of both organizations has been truly inspiring. UHKF has also been creative in generating new forms of community support. Members of the Kingston community who play UHKF’s upcoming 50/50 lottery (see attached slip) will have the opportunity to win the minimum monthly jackpot of $5,000.
Some things have not changed. Frontline workers are still working tirelessly to protect patients, staff and the community. The phenomenal support of you, UHKF’s incredible donors, has also remained steadfast. Your generosity and thoughtfulness during these challenging times have provided vital investment and moral support. For that, my colleagues and I are eternally grateful.
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Donor-Funded Technology Saves Lives and Inspires Hope Having experienced first-hand the huge impact that local philanthropy can have, Mike felt compelled to make a difference of his own. “During my remarkable care, I was shocked to hear that our hospitals rely heavily on donations to buy equipment,” says Mike. “I saw the success of the Rose of Hope golf tournament and its phenomenal contributions towards breast cancer care in the region, so I conferred with the very supportive organizers. They helped us develop the first Power of Hope golf tournament for prostate cancer. It will take place on August 30, 2021, at the Cataraqui Golf Club. It’s going to be a special day. We’re really excited.” When Mike Laframboise was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019, he became one of the first patients to receive surgery performed with Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) da Vinci robotic operating system. Without the incredible generosity of donors in our community, KHSC would not have been able to purchase this revolutionary equipment, and Mike’s experience could have been very different. The da Vinci provides surgeons with superior visualization and has so far impacted the lives of over 350 patients and families. This partnership of human and machine ensures faster recovery times, shorter hospital stays, decreased blood loss and less pain. “The da Vinci system is a lifesaver,” says Mike. “I am so grateful that the surgeons operated on me with such sophisticated equipment here in Kingston. I had my tonsils out when I was 19 and that was more painful than my recovery after my prostate surgery.”
It’s estimated that one in every nine men in Canada will develop prostate cancer. With the support of the community, the Power of Hope golf tournament aims to raise funds, awareness and hope for men’s health in our region. “Community support is vital for local health care,” says Dr. Rob Siemens, Department Head of Urology at KHSC. “I used to say the da Vinci robot was the future of surgery but, thanks to local philanthropy, this is no longer the future. This is now. The Power of Hope tournament has the potential to provide us with the next generation of life-saving equipment for prostate cancer patients.” “We’d love to have anybody come and help the cause,” says Mike. “But I can’t stress enough, especially for men over 50, how important it is to go and get yourself tested every year. Prostate cancer can be beaten if we stay ahead of it.” 3 | SUMMER 2021
Fact or Fiction: The real deal on COVID-19 vaccine Dr. Gerald Evans, attending physician in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, discusses the latest information from the scientific world about the COVID-19 vaccines in the Circle of Care webinar, Fact or Fiction: The real deal on COVID-19 vaccines. You can watch the webinar recording at www.uhkf.ca.
Donors Help Fund New Medical Beds at Hotel Dieu Hospital Donors play an integral role in helping fund various equipment needs—like medical beds and monitoring equipment—across Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Providence Care. In November 2020, the expanded inpatient units at KHSC’s Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site opened, highlighting the importance of having the right equipment available, and the positive impact donors have on patient care in our region. “The expanded inpatient units have played a critical role already,” says Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Medical Affairs at KHSC. “The 40 new inpatient beds at HDH have been an essential asset in our ability to manage the COVID surge in the Intensive Care Unit bed occupancy that we saw during April and May of this year. By transferring suitable medical and surgical patients
from the Kingston General Hospital site, we were able to redeploy staff with the essential skills needed to manage patients needing intensive care, while still preserving the capacity to provide the urgent and emergent surgical and medical care needed by our community.” Michael continues, “This expanded inpatient access will likely translate into greater access to care for our local community, post-COVID, and even into the longer term. We are grateful to the Ministry of Health for supporting us to open these additional beds to provide the flexibility needed to address the COVID-19 surge in our intensive care units, as well as inpatient volumes. This will help us address surges of other types in the future (such as flu-related surges) while allowing access to planned and urgent surgical and procedural care at KHSC.”
Many in our region believe that the government funds all of these projects. The reality is, without the support of a generous community, most of these projects simply wouldn’t happen. “Donor support is critical, and our community has been fabulous,” says Michael. “At times like this, when we have so much additional expense relating to the funding of many essential healthcare activities happening simultaneously, our donors have played an essential role in every program at KHSC—and continue to be an essential support for equipment renewal. We are deeply indebted to our donors and hugely appreciative of the help that they have provided us, so that we can care for our community!”
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Providence Care and YMCA teaming up to bring seniors and children together Providence Care and the YMCA of Eastern Ontario are teaming up to bring seniors and children together under the same roof. The organizations are ushering in a new era of senior living and childcare programs with an agreement to open a Y childcare centre in the new Providence Manor, tentatively opening in summer 2024. “If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance and value of connections,” says Cathy Szabo, Providence Care President and CEO. “Having the YMCA childcare centre on-site creates opportunities for intergenerational socialization and relationship-building. When you combine that with the home-like environment and design features, the new Providence Manor will meet the needs of residents now and well into the future.” “Our partnership with Providence Care is 100 per cent in line with the mission and values of the YMCA,” adds Rob Adams, YMCA of Eastern Ontario CEO. “The Y has a long history of seeking ways to meet the changing needs of its community and that is our strategy as we move through and emerge from the pandemic. The past year has definitely shone a spotlight on these needs and we continue to look for new opportunities and partnerships to enhance our provision of services.”
The YMCA is the largest provider of childcare in Canada with trademarked curricula for pre-school and school-age care programs. In Eastern Ontario, it offers care to 1,245 children in both programs at 15 locations. The Y childcare centre will be located on the main level of the new long-term care home. While designed with a goal of enhancing connections within the home, the centre will also feature infection control measures including separate entrance/exits. “The new centre will allow us to meet the challenge that many families face in finding infant care by increasing our capacity by 200 per cent from three to 10 spaces, and to increase toddler spaces by 100 per cent from 15 to 30 spaces. This is good news for Kingston families,” says Jill MacDonald, YMCA of Eastern Ontario Operations Childcare Director.
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Understanding How mRNA Vaccines Work Over the last year, the compassion and generosity displayed by you, our amazing donors, show that the majority of the Kingston community understands the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to global misinformation, it’s understandable that some may still be confused about how the COVID vaccines work and how effective they are against emerging variants. Here is some information on the mRNA vaccines (offered by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) to help keep you informed and protected. Typically, your immune system detects and identifies a foreign intruder and attacks it. However, this can take a few days, during which time you get sick. To prevent this, vaccines are developed that train the immune system to recognize and fight off an infection before it has gained a foothold in your body. Traditional vaccines do this by offering your body a weakened
version or component of the actual virus to trigger a response from the immune system. This is not the case with mRNA vaccines. For mRNA vaccines, researchers took the virus’s blueprint (its RNA) and isolated the part responsible for producing the distinctive ‘spikes’ on the virus’s cell wall. These spikes allow the virus to attach to your cells and instruct them to make more copies, thereby spreading the virus through your body. Armed with this, ‘Messenger RNA’ (mRNA) was created. This special form of RNA enters your cells and gives them instructions to build the spikes. Once this happens, your immune system recognizes the spikes and learns how to attack them. It can take up to 14 days for the body to build sufficient immunity, at which point your immune system can now recognize viruses by their spikes and attack them, thereby, preventing the virus from spreading through your body.
You are now protected against the virus. Thankfully, these types of vaccines are quick to develop once we know enough about the genetic structure of the virus. And because the vaccines only make the harmless spikes and not the virus itself, you cannot get sick from them. They also provide substantial protection against the variants that have emerged. After getting vaccinated, you should continue to follow Public Health guidance and protect yourself and others by following the required precautions of physical distancing, hand washing and masks. “Thank you to our thoughtful community,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, attending physician in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. “Continuing to take these appropriate and effective measures will keep yourselves and other people safe.”
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