Female scrub nurse looking through a plastic curtain

QUALITY

Quality care impacts people in our community

STEGH’s commitment to quality care continues to drive and guide us. Each year, STEGH submits a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The QIP is developed each year with active input from hospital leaders, board members, patient advisors, staff and physicians. To read this year’s QIP, click here.

This year, we are sharing two patient stories that demonstrate how quality care impacts people in our community.

Scott’s Story

While working an overnight shift on July 28 stocking shelves at a local department store, Scott knew immediately that something was wrong when he began experiencing numbness and tingling in his left leg. He quickly alerted a co-worker, an overhead code was called, and an ambulance called to attend at the scene. Scott had suffered a stroke, which occurs when a clot cuts off blood flow to parts of the brain. Those parts of the brain soon start to die. A drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) dissolves these clots and restores blood flow and it is imperative that it be given as soon as possible after a stroke.

Scott was rushed to University Hospital in London and the clot busting drug was provided within the three and half hour window considered best practice. Scott was stabilized and then transferred back to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital’s (STEGH) Integrated Stroke Unit on August 3 to begin his healing and road to recovery.

“I never knew how hard it was to learn to talk, walk and eat again but they have the right people to motivate you here. The staff have provided me with so much emotional support,” says Scott.

Patient Scott, in the centre, is surrounded by some members of his care team, including left to right, Julie Pridoehl, Speech Language Pathology Assistant, Trish Rodgers, Occupational Therapist, Mike Lalonde, Physiotherapist, and Marlene Fortushnick, Speech Language Pathologist.

Patient Scott, in the centre, is surrounded by some members of his care team, including left to right, Julie Pridoehl, Speech Language Pathology Assistant, Trish Rodgers, Occupational Therapist, Mike Lalonde, Physiotherapist, and Marlene Fortushnick, Speech Language Pathologist.

It takes a multi-disciplinary team to provide care to patients like Scott who are recovering from a stroke, including doctors, speech language pathologists, physical and occupational therapists, recreation therapists, nurses and personal support workers.

“My speech pathologist, Marlene, and her assistant Julie, helped me so much in learning to talk again. And the nurses are amazing. Denise is very special to me. She sat and talked to me and helped me get through the “why me” stuff,” adds Scott. “I think I’ve become pretty good friends with all the staff.”

But when asked what he is most proud of, Scott could not stop the tears from welling up in his eyes.
“Learning to walk again. I am most proud of learning to walk again.”

Scott worked incredibly hard during his physiotherapy sessions, attending twice a day for a total of four hours every day.

“He really put the work in,” says Mike Lalonde, a member of the physiotherapy team caring for Scott.

There were lessons for Scott along the way that he wants to share with others going through a similar journey.

“Be kind to yourself. Be patient and ask for help.”

Scott also credits the love and support of his girlfriend, son and brother who were viewed as part of the team caring for him.

Scott’s remarkable recovery continues at home with follow-up care at STEGH and in the community following his discharge from hospital on September 20.

“I’ve also learned to cherish what you’ve got because you never know when it might be gone,” he adds.
What Scott has now is a renewed focus on his health and the ability to enjoy a walk and conversation with his loved ones. He is grateful that STEGH’s Integrated Stroke Unit was there for him when he needed care close to home and to his family and friends.

STEGH opened its Integrated Stroke Unit on April 4, 2016 which consists of three acute beds, five rehabilitative beds and a dedicated team of allied health professionals. In August, STEGH opened its Secondary Stroke Prevention Clinic which focuses on seeing stroke survivors discharged from the integrated stroke unit.

SILENT HEROES

A day that started with morning coffee with friends soon became a life and death situation for 67-year-old Gerry Richer, of Aylmer, Ont. On March 8, Richer arrived home at about 9:30 am following his routine morning “meeting of the minds” at Timmys with friends and said to his wife of 41 years, Ginette, that he wasn’t feeling well. He thought he was experiencing heartburn and told her he was going to lie down.

Before he made it to his bed, Ginette heard him moan and upon going to the bedroom, found him laying on the bedroom floor grasping his chest and sweating profusely. The onset of his intense pain caused him to lose consciousness. Gerry was suffering a catastrophic cardiac event.

Ginette, a retired nurse herself from St Thomas-Elgin General, called 911 and ambulance paramedics quickly arrived to transport Gerry to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital’s Emergency Department. Gerry’s first cardiac arrest occurred in the ambulance enroute and paramedics were able to revive him. His second cardiac arrest occurred in the Emergency Department and STEGH’s highly skilled team of physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists successfully resuscitated him again.

Ginette, left, and her husband Gerry, far right, came back to STEGH to thank the countless care providers, including Respiratory Therapist Nicole Williams, who saved Gerry's live following a heart attack.

Ginette, left, and her husband Gerry, far right, took time to come back to STEGH to thank the countless care providers in person, including Respiratory Therapist Nicole Williams, who saved Gerry’s live following a heart attack.

Gerry was eventually stabilized and after several hours transferred to University Hospital in London where he was in a medically induced coma for five days and stayed a total of 10 days before being discharged home with a stent in his heart and instructions to follow a strict cardiac diet and exercise regime.

Sarah Richer, youngest daughter of Gerry wrote a letter on behalf of the family expressing thanks to STEGH and its staff and physicians and a meeting was arranged so that Gerry and Ginette could personally thank those involved in saving his life. A total of 22 people worked on Gerry in the ED that morning, including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and x-ray technicians.

“Their expertise and compassion was astounding. I know whether someone survives a heart attack is unpredictable, and that sometimes even best efforts are not enough,” says Sarah, his daughter. “I’m glad that even though the odds were working against them, they brought nothing less than their A-game.”

That “A-Game” included one of the longest resuscitation efforts ever done by ED physician, Dr. Geoff Mills, and his supporting team.

“We worked on Gerry for more than 40 minutes. That’s the longest I’ve ever worked on anyone and seen this kind of positive outcome,” said Dr. Mills. “He just wasn’t ready to go yet.”

“Along with exemplary clinical care.” says Sarah Richer, “our family also experienced compassionate, emotional support. Registration clerk, Lynn Baer showed above-and-beyond compassion and humanity by making sure my mother was not alone while being given extremely difficult news before I and my siblings could join her.”

“The work you all do is crucially important; and everyone excelled at his or her work in every way possible. We wanted to let you know that all of us are at a loss for words to convey how endlessly grateful we are.”

Gerry and Ginette arranged to meet with the care providers to say thank you in person; a gesture that was incredibly meaningful for the staff involved.

“It’s so great to see you looking so well. We don’t get to see this very often so thank you for coming back,” said respiratory therapist, Nicole Williams.

“You were a fighter,” said ED nurse, Ryan Lachance.

“It’s good to see you upright,” joked Dr. Thivian Vandeyar, from STEGH’s Intensive Care Unit, while shaking Gerry’s hand.

“You look wonderful. It’s so nice to see you again,” said Lynn Baer to Gerry, while hugging Ginette.

Gerry says he will be forever grateful for the caring, compassionate and skilled team at STEGH.

“I never expected this to happen to me and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this team of yours.”

While shaking Dr. Mills hand, Gerry asked why he worked some 40 minutes or more on him as opposed to the traditional 10 minutes. Dr. Mills jokingly replied, “because you wouldn’t leave.”

“I want to express my deepest, heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all who helped save my life,” said Gerry.