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VGH : Delivering the Best of Health in British Columbia VGH Emergency: gateway to treatment and care

In the unpredictable and fast-paced world of Emergency Medicine, the race against time gives medical teams only minutes to respond to life or death situations. This is often the reality at VGH’s Emergency Department, where every few minutes a new patient arrives in need of medical care.

If you live in British Columbia, chances are that you or someone close to you has had or will have an experience at the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) Emergency Department. It’s amongst the province’s largest and busiest Emergency Departments; with over 82,000 people anticipated to come through its doors this year alone. VGH is the only accredited Level-1 trauma centre in BC.

Delivering timely and compassionate care in a high-intensity environment Over 230 highly trained doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, physiotherapists and administration staff make up VGH’s first-rate Emergency Medicine team. At any given time, these specialized health care professionals have to be ready for anything.

successfully treated, and are able to return home without further medical attention. The remaining 25 per cent must be admitted to the hospital for more extensive care. As the province’s main trauma care and referral centre for adults, those who do get admitted via Emergency include people with very complex injuries and serious medical conditions. “VGH provides care for people in the worst conditions because we’ve got the best spine experts, the best burn experts… you name it. More often than not, a person coming into our hospital in extreme condition will come in through Emergency,” says Lannon de Best, Patient Services Manager, VGH Emergency. “Emergency at VGH is a 24/7 business that delivers the most innovative medical care for patients in a high-intensity environment.” In his leadership role within the team, de Best has responsibility for all aspects of the Department’s patient care activities. With a 10 year career in nursing, and Master of Arts (Leadership), de Best provides clinical and managerial leadership and direction, supporting the interdisciplinary team members in Emergency in the provision of optimum quality care to patients and families.

The diversity of conditions they respond to can be staggering. From sprained ankles to abdominal pain to cuts and burns; from broken bones to breathing problems to strokes; from smoke inhalation to heart attacks to life-threatening infections. No one is turned away from Emergency; patients are triaged in order of the priority of “We have one of the best track records in the their illness or injury. province in moving admitted patients quickly Approximately 75 per cent of those who come to to the specialized programs, when they require Emergency have their medical issues identified, further treatment.”

A specialty in itself Emergency Medicine is a specialized practice; one that encompasses multiple fields of medicine and surgery. Emergency physicians require a number of the skills of many specialists. Each Emergency doctor at VGH has a broad base of knowledge and skills, including but not in any way limited to the ability to set fractures, suture lacerations, perform trauma resuscitation, administer cardiac life support, and clear patients’ airways to keep them alive. “The Emergency team is exceptional at thoroughly examining a patient and figuring out what’s wrong using very sophisticated tools and diagnostics,” de Best explains. When seconds count, immediate access to equipment that accelerates diagnosis and treatment can save a life. The team can only remain at the forefront when the equipment they need is available to them. This is where donations to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation have an impact. By giving to the Best of Health Fund, donors provide our hospitals with a flexible way to fund urgently-needed medical equipment and health care initiatives that are financially above and beyond what government can provide. If having world-class health care is important to you, and you’d like to make a donation to the Best of Health Fund, visit or call 604.875.4676.

Fall 2011

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Annual VGH Gala brighter than ever

The Night of a Thousand Stars Gala, held on November 4th at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver was a shining success by all accounts. The event – attended by dedicated donors, forward-thinking community leaders, and worldclass medical experts at VGH, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre and Community Health Services in Vancouver – raised over $400,000. Proceeds will benefit VGH & UBC Hospital

Foundation’s Best of Health Fund; a critical resource to enhance health care at our hospitals for people all across the province. That night, more than 600 guests enjoyed an elegant cocktail reception and dinner. Thanks to the generosity of new sponsors such as Herman Miller Healthcare, and returning donors including Capilano Suspension Bridge, Rocky Mountaineer, Moraine Lake Lodge, Cathedral Mountain Lodge, Shangri-La Hotel and many others, attendees had the opportunity to participate in silent, spotlight and live auction bidding, as well as an exciting

Couple leave comforting legacy to UBC Hospital’s Purdy Pavilion Legacy gifts to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation often come from the heart; that was the case when Dr. James Kennedy and his wife, Norah, made the Purdy Pavilion at UBC Hospital part of their estate plan. During his final years, Dr. Kennedy was cared for at Purdy. After their deaths – his in 2004, and hers in 2010 – a portion of their estate was

directed towards the renovation and furnishing of three kitchen areas within the Pavilion, and the purchase of blanket warmers. Countless patients will benefit through the food and warmth that the Kennedys’ gift will result in. Theirs was truly a comforting legacy.

Share your story Have you or someone close to you been touched by the care at VGH, UBC Hospital or GF Strong Rehab Centre? Share your story by e-mailing

To make a gift or for more information visit or call 604.875.4676

prize draw. There was something to appeal to almost everyone. The evening also included the presentation of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation’s Leadership Award to Robert and Lily Lee; the couple was honoured for their role as community leaders and generous philanthropists. Because of the combined contributions of so many, this year’s Night of a Thousand Stars Gala shone brighter than ever. A date for the 2012 Gala will be announced in the New Year.

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is a registered charity that raises funds for medical equipment, world-class research and improvements to patient care for the many specialized areas of care at VGH, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Community Health Services across Vancouver. Consistent with our Foundation Board Policy, a contribution from all designated donations goes to the Best of Health Fund to support the hospitals’ most urgent priorities and the work of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. If you would prefer to receive this newsletter by email, please provide us with your email address. Phone 604.875.4676 or contact us at

To make a donation or for more information contact us at: 604.875.4676 or 1.877.875.4676 855 West 12th Avenue Vancouver BC V5Z 1M9

Generosity of donors: vital to VGH and health care

Momentum building for new mental health pavilion at VGH — more support still needed Almost one year ago in November 2010, BC philanthropists Joe and Rosalie Segal made a $12-million donation towards a new Mental Health Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH)—the largest personal donation ever made for a mental health project in BC. They did it because they felt it was important to help erase the stigma associated with mental illness.

“While mental illness may not always be visible at the surface, the impact can be seen on the street, in the workplace, and in our homes and neighbourhoods. We must do more to support families in need.” Joe Segal, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation Donor. Their generosity has enhanced awareness around mental illness and inspired others.

Cancer care inspires generous gift

age-related safety and structural issues. Some of the many problems include: overcrowding, lack of private rooms, inadequate washroom facilities and severely limited treatment and meeting space. For the 25,000 people treated in the building annually, the current environment reinforces negative social stigma. This can change, but it will take support from British Columbians to make it happen. Replacing the old building with a new, modern facility is the top capital priority for VGH and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH); the health authority responsible for providing health care services to 25 per cent of BC’s population. A purpose-designed facility, built to today’s many codes—including seismic requirements, and infection control standards—will keep people safer on multiple fronts. Flexible configurations will allow for patients with similar issues to be treated in the same areas (i.e. geriatric patients in one area; addiction and withdrawal patients in another). The Segals aren’t the only ones who’ve supported this important initiative. Their leadership has created a ripple effect, resulting in donations from others—ranging in size from double-digit amounts to seven figures.

An alarming one in four British Columbians are affected by mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. Mental illness does not discriminate by age, gender, race or socioeconomic status. The reality is, every one of us, personally or through a family member, friend or colleague will be affected.

The new building is estimated to cost $73 million. VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is committed to raising $25 million from private donations. The Foundation is working with VCH and the provincial government to identify the remaining funding required to make this new building a reality.

Patients with severe and debilitating mental illnesses admitted to VGH receive the attention of the province’s most highly trained and specialized medical experts. Staff and physicians working in the existing mental health centre provide remarkable care each and every day.

Already, close to $14 million has been raised towards the goal. We are more than half way there, but more support is still needed. To make a donation in support of this important campaign to build a new Mental Health Pavilion at VGH visit or call 604.875.4676.

Thomas Anderson gives a generous donation to VGH in appreciation of the Neurosciences nursing staff who provided him with exceptional care. Pictured here (left to right): Pooja Bhagria, Mildred Ferguson, Thomas Anderson, Miriam Villasoto and Christine Dinulos.

In July 2011, Thomas Anderson lived through a health-care scare; he was emergency airlifted via helicopter to VGH from Powell River, BC after falling unconscious in a public place. The 55-year-old discovered he had a malignant brain tumor and quickly underwent brain surgery at the expert hands of neurosurgeon Dr. Brian Toyota. After the surgery, Anderson woke up a new man with a fresh perspective. His experience at VGH was more than just surgery to him; it was a journey that led him to conquer his worst fear (dying in a hospital), reunite with old friends and cultivate new ones.

He discovered a sense of community at VGH and wanted to contribute. “This experience completely changed me,” said Anderson.

However, the physical condition of VGH’s current 70-year old psychiatric facility suffers from serious

“The first thing I wanted to initial design concept

do was help people.” As he recuperated, he watched the activities of the health care workers around him. One of the things he noticed was how the nurses pushed to provide the best possible care for their patients. After a conversation with one of them he decided to use a portion of his retirement nest-egg to purchase a new portable bladder scanner for the unit. “The nurses at VGH wanted to provide better patient care and I wanted to give them what they needed to do it,” said Anderson. He dedicates his donation to the Neurosciences nursing staff who provided him with endless support during his recovery phase. “They were all fantastic! They made me laugh. And, if you can’t laugh, what good is life?”

The new mental health pavilion at VGH will provide a healing environment where people are safer and better protected. It will help medical experts improve patient care in many ways.

Fall 2011


New wheels offer new possibilities to GF Strong Rehab team GF Strong Rehab Centre’s newest wheelchairaccessible vehicle is proving to be a powerful piece of equipment for recreation therapy. The van was generously donated by Vancouver resident Sylvia Cristall in memory of her late husband, Lorne Cristall, who was a former patient at GF Strong Rehab Centre several years ago. At BC’s largest rehabilitation centre, the GF Strong team delivers treatment to people who suffer from spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury, arthritis and neuromusculoskeletal impairment. With care from highly trained, patient-focused specialists, enabling equipment and community support, the recovery process can offer new possibilities in life. “Recreation therapy plays a major role in rehab,” says Chris Palmer, GF Strong’s Patient Services Manager. “Because this van is extremely adaptive,

First-rate care, first-rate donors

it will allow us to help individuals discover leisure choices that could be enjoyable and beneficial to their health.” The vehicle can accommodate various mobility devices including large power wheelchairs; it provides individuals undergoing rehab with accessible transportation options, and an increased opportunity for enhanced recreation therapy, whether it be a swim in a local pool or a downhill ski trip to Whistler. While the van is primarily a method of transportation, it’s also a vehicle that will help deliver and develop newly-needed skills, increased confidence and even some fun. For more information or to make a donation in support of GF Strong Rehab Centre, please visit or call 604.875.4676.

Michael Phelps OC

Ron Dumouchelle

A message from our Chair and President & CEO The important and specialized care performed by medical experts at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, and affiliated research and community health services facilities can be analyzed in many ways. One might count the number of patients being cared for, summarize surgical statistics, determine the number of diseases being treated; identify how many world-leading medical experts have been drawn here; or create an inventory of designations the hospital has earned, such as its status as the only accredited Level-1 trauma centre in British Columbia. This type of information isn’t always captured or calculated in meaningful ways. Yet, one fact is clear and easy to understand; the care at our hospitals is first-rate.

Donor Sylvia Cristall (fourth from left) presents the keys to a fully-equipped wheelchair-accessible van to GF Strong Rehab Centre recreation therapy staff.

Breathing expert, railway company team up on research While we live in a society that relies on diesel engines for public and commercial transportation, we all need clean air. These things are often taken for granted. Health Canada reports thousands of deaths annually are attributable to air pollution; it’s a significant problem in our country and something Dr. Chris Carlsten, a well respected respirologist and scientist, based at VGH, has been studying for years. When Canadian Pacific (CP) learned about his unique diesel fuel research with potential for emission reduction, they came forward with significant financial support. Their and Dr. Carlsten’s shared passion for the environment and the protection of public health brought them together. Much of Dr. Carlsten’s research is conducted in a state-of-the-art Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory (see photo) which simulates real-world exposures to diesel emissions. The lab is one-of-a-kind in Canada; only a few exist anywhere in the world. Dr. Carlsten’s focus is on occupational airways disease, particularly the effects diesel exhaust and other particulate matter have in causing asthma or making its symptoms worse.

Our health care teams are able to deliver the complex and much-needed care that they do because of funding from governments, and also—importantly—significant extras made possible by generous donors; people who’ve supported the hospitals’ areas of greatest need or initiatives related to a particular disease. For what they enable, we believe donors are first-rate too. When donations are made to our hospitals, they are made through VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. The Foundation follows industry practice to ensure every dollar raised is done so as efficiently as possible. In the last fiscal year, the annual organizational cost to raise $1 of revenue was 13.92 cents. It’s a number derived by dividing total revenues by the cost of doing business; and it’s a number we’re proud of.

“While any asthmatic can tell you diesel exhaust can trigger or worsen an asthma attack, the specific medical reasons behind this aren’t well understood,” explains Dr. Carlsten. “Learning more about mechanism that triggers asthma attacks provides hope that better asthma prevention and treatment services can be developed in the future.” Dr. Carlsten’s work may lead to technological applications to reduce harmful emissions. What he ultimately wants to do is inform and influence public policies and practices protecting the health of the environment and the people within it. With CP’s help, he’s on the right track.

To make a gift or for more information visit or call 604.875.4676

If world-class health care is important to you, please join us as a first-rate donor. We would be honoured.

Chair, Board of Directors

President and CEO VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation

Our hospitals: home to leading specialists for complex conditions Diabetes experts at VGH offer unique programs to patients

Dr. Tricia Tang (centre) is an expert in patient education; she has developed an innovative program to reach ethnically diverse populations with information about diabetes, and how to lessen its impact.

Diabetes is a health problem so significant in Canada that it is often referred to as a full-blown epidemic. That’s why the unique programs that diabetes experts at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) make available for patients are such great news to diabetes sufferers in our province.

Diabetes Facts • An estimated 40 per cent of patients admitted to VGH have a diabetes-related illness.

A tailored approach for older adults

• In BC, there are more than 338,000 people living with diabetes, excluding the one in three people who have diabetes but do not know it.

Dr. Graydon Meneilly, Head of the Department of Medicine at VGH, and a world authority on diabetes in elderly individuals, explained, “Diabetes is a complicated disease, even for a young person to manage. For an older person with other medical conditions who may also have mobility problems and cognitive difficulties such as dementia, diabetes can be overwhelming.” To address these types of special needs, Dr. Meneilly created a Diabetes in the Elderly Clinic. It provides the kind of specialized care and extra support needed by these patients. This tailored approach has made a difference in many lives.

A “first in Canada” program for ethnically diverse populations The most recent diabetes-focused initiative to be launched from VGH is an innovative program, designed to meet the educational and health needs of ethnically diverse patients in dealing with their conditions. This type of diabetes education program, not yet available anywhere else in Canada, is being made possible here thanks to the generosity of the Azad and Yasmin Shamji family. Led by Dr. Tricia Tang, a clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist, the program will reach out to diabetics in locations they already frequent, such as places of worship or community centres. It will offer culturally sensitive support and education, providing participants with the knowledge, skills

• 40 per cent of Canadians living with diabetes will develop long term complications. and motivation they need to better self-manage their disease at home. Tang and her team train peer-support leaders who have diabetes. These leaders, in turn, facilitate meetings with other diabetes sufferers in their communities—people who share their same cultural values and lifestyle challenges. The first group involved in the program is the Lower Mainland’s South Asian community. The Shamji family believe their contribution and support of VGH and this program, specifically, will make a difference, benefitting patients and their families. By targeting the way education and support is delivered, patients will be empowered to take control of their health, leading to reduced long-term complications, an increased quality of life, better communication with health care providers, and reduced overall costs to the health care system. To make a donation in support of diabetes initiatives at VGH, please visit or call 604.875.4676.

• For people living with type 2 diabetes, life expectancy may be shortened by five to 10 years. • Every year, diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of some 41,500 Canadians. • The financial burden for people living with diabetes is two to three times higher than it is for those without diabetes with costs for medications and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 annually. • It’s estimated that diabetes and its complications cost the Canadian health care system approximately $13.2 billion every year.

Fall 2011


An ICU story of innovation, compassion and unique care

After an accident on the Campbell Highway in the Yukon, Stephen Kaplan’s motorcycle landed in the bush and Stephen ended up in the Intensive Care Unit at VGH. One month later, after a dramatic recovery, he was able to leave the hospital, and return home to continue the recovery process.

Oftentimes, only one thing has to go wrong for a person to end up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at VGH. To have that patient recover from the ordeal that brought them to the Unit, and return to their pre-hospital lives, many things have to go right. That’s what happened to recent patient Stephen Kaplan. He and wife, Danielle, describe his ICU recovery story as one of innovation, compassion and unique care. In July, the 54-year-old was on a motorcycle trip through the Yukon when he hit a massive pothole on a not-often travelled highway. Kaplan lost control, and landed hard on his back. Lying on the ground almost helpless, but conscious, he reached for his SPOT GPS locator and called for help. Because of the remote location, it took paramedics hours to arrive. After being rushed to the closest nursing station, he was airlifted to Whitehorse. He had severely fractured his back. The next stop was VGH: home to BC and Yukon’s only specialized unit for complex spinal injuries. After undergoing successful emergency surgery, things took a drastic turn. Stephen developed a

life-threatening blood clot called a pulmonary embolism. It led to multiple-organ failures and cardiac arrest. It appeared he wouldn’t make it through the night.

“I thought that was it. I was ready to let Stephen go, but the medical team continued to give me hope,” said Danielle. “Everyone in ICU was brilliant, and so compassionate. They persevered, so we persevered along with them.” ICU Medical Director Dr. George Isac recommended using an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep Stephen’s heart and lungs functioning until his body could work on its own. It was his only hope for survival. VGH is one of only three hospitals in BC that have the relatively unique technology available to

Be part of our holiday tradition at VGH

treat adults. After 48 hours Stephen improved significantly. He survived and one month later is back home, successfully undergoing rehabilitation to recover from the accident. “It’s one of our many great stories,” said Dr. Isac, with a smile. “To give our very sick, very badly hurt patients the best chance at regaining health, we work as a team with all of the resources available to us. Donors who support us are the unseen members of the team. They help provide many of the tools and technologies we use regularly.” “The doctors, nurses, therapists and all the staff at VGH were excellent. Right from my initial surgery, through all the complications, all the specialists, and with my family as part of the team—everyone was outstanding,” said Stephen. If you’d like to help ensure provincial referral centres such as VGH can continue to deliver the best of health, we welcome your support. To make a donation to the Best of Health Fund, visit or call 604.875.4676.

Thank you for making an impact Throughout VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation’s more than 30-year history, the lives of hundreds of thousands of adults in British Columbia have been touched by donor generosity. When you make a donation to VGH, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, or Community Health Services across Vancouver, you support excellence in specialized patient care, important medical research, life-saving equipment and essential health services for patients from across the province, who face complex and serious medical challenges. It’s the commitment from individuals and businesses within our communities that make a difference. No matter the size of your contribution — we are truly grateful.

Every year grateful patients and hospital supporters dedicate “Angels” to celebrate a loved one or pay tribute to a special doctor or nurse at our hospitals. Thousands of these Angels will be displayed on trees in the Winter Wonderland at VGH to lift the spirits of patients and families this holiday season. This year’s Annual Angel Campaign, sponsored by CBC, helps fund critically-needed medical equipment and important medical research. Join us for a special Angel Dedication Event on December 15th at 11:30am in the Jim Pattison Pavilion at VGH, hosted by Gloria Macarenko, co-host of CBC News Vancouver. To dedicate your Angel or make a gift visit

To make a gift or for more information visit or call 604.875.4676

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is pleased to recognize the individuals who have made donations of $1,000 and more from April 2010 to March 2011. As an expression of our gratitude, their names are posted online at Donor listings are also on display in the lobbies of the Jim Pattison Pavilion at VGH, and the Koerner Pavilion at UBC Hospital. The generosity of donors is vital, making a positive impact on the world-class health care in our province today and for years to come. Thank you for your role in delivering the Best of Health.

2011 Community Report  

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation Year in Review