Our Stories

Committed to Exceptional Patient Experiences

Read more about the incredible stories and experiences of individuals in our communities and the Lakeridge Health team members who provide outstanding patient care and make a difference to people they serve.

Colon Cancer: A simple at-home test that can lead to lifesaving results

Colon Cancer Awareness MonthMarch is Colon Cancer Awareness Month – a time to reinforce the importance of screening for people at risk.

“Colorectal cancer, also known as ‘colon cancer’ or ‘bowel cancer’, is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths,” said Dr. Hugh Kendall, Regional Colorectal Screening/Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program.

“Colorectal cancer can be a silent killer, often there are no physical symptoms early on in the disease. But when caught early, there is a higher chance for cure, with 90 per cent of people being disease free at five years. That’s why it’s so important for individuals 50 and over to undergo colorectal cancer screening every two years.”

Dr. Kendall notes that many people are delaying colorectal cancer screening – as well as other regular cancer screening and prevention appointments – due to concerns with visiting health care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, colorectal cancer screening can be easily done through a safe and quick at-home test known as the fecal immunochemical test, or FIT. The FIT checks an individual’s stool for tiny amounts of blood that could be caused by a colon cancer and/or pre-cancerous polyps, which are growths that can turn into cancer over time. FIT kits are available free with a doctor’s prescription from collection centres across the province.

Follow-up can be coordinated through a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Individuals who do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner can contact Cancer Care Ontario toll-free at 1-866-662-9233 between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday to discuss their next steps.

In Durham Region, patients who require cancer care have access to state-of-the-art care through the network of cancer services and hospitals offered through the Central East Regional Cancer Program, including the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre at Lakeridge Health. Many appointments can be conducted virtually with health care providers.

For more information on colorectal cancer screening in Ontario, visit Ontario Health.

Dr. Julie Ann Francis Shares Her Story

“A reminder to have confidence in myself.”
How the words of a Canadian icon helped to shape the career 
of a Lakeridge Health physician

Dr. Francis with Lincoln AlexanderDr. Julie Ann Francis was just eight years old when her parents took her to tour Queen’s Park for the first time.

“Parliament was in session and I remember asking if I could be one of the Pages in the Legislature,” Dr. Francis said, a Lakeridge Health Obstetrician/Gynecologist.

“My parents explained that I was too young but could apply when I was older.”

Dr. Francis kept her parents to that promise and became a Page as soon as she could at 12 years old. It was a role that would provide a memory she would take with her always.

“My parents were always involved in the community, so I was very aware of our newly appointed Lieutenant Governor, Lincoln Alexander, and I was very excited when the Pages were told that he was coming to meet us. Hearing his story, including how he became Canada's first Black Member of Parliament, first Black federal cabinet minister, and Ontario's first Black Lieutenant Governor, had such an impression on me as young, Black woman,” Dr. Francis explained, whose family hails from Barbados.

At the end of his talk, the Lieutenant Governor asked if anyone had any questions.

Dr. Francis

“Although I don’t recall what it was, I asked the first question,” Dr. Francis shared.

“Lincoln Alexander said that in his experience the person brave enough to ask the first question was bright and fearless. I have carried his words with me as a reminder to have confidence in myself.  This is helpful to anyone, but really invaluable if you choose a career in medicine.”

Dr. Francis’ mindset has clearly served her well. Not only has she built a successful medical practice, but she also helped to open Lakeridge Health’s first Gynecologic Oncology Centre in 2018.

The Gynecolgic Oncology Centre combines the surgical expertise of the gynecological oncologists with the existing well established systemic and radiation therapy programs in the Durham Regional Cancer Centre. Women have access to specialized radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical treatment for cancers of the female reproductive system.

Prior to its opening, patients would often have to travel to hospitals in Kingston or Toronto to access surgical expertise as part of their plan of care.

“We have an incredible team here at Lakeridge Health, including many talented Black physicians,” Dr. Francis said.

“It’s a team that I hope will inspire future generations of health care professionals just as I was.”

Providing Stroke Patients with Hope Every Step of the Way


Gerry CassidyWhen Gerry Cassidy suffered a stroke last July, he thought life as he knew it was over.

Arriving at the Emergency Department (ED) at the Ajax Pickering Hospital, Gerry – a 66-year-old business owner from Ajax – had slurred speech and was paralyzed on his right side.

“A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of the flow of blood to the brain, which causes the brain cells in the affected area to die due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients,” explained Amy Maebrae-Waller, Lakeridge Health’s District Stroke Coordinator and Patient Care Manager of the Stroke Prevention Clinic and the outpatient neuro program.

“A stroke is a medical emergency and it’s important to know the signs of stroke, including one side of the face drooping, weakness in the arms, and difficulty speaking.”

Following a brief stay in the ED, Gerry was transferred to the Integrated Stroke Unit at the Oshawa Hospital. The Integrated Stroke Unit manages the acute care needs of patients who have had a stroke and readies them for their rehabilitation program that is also a component of the Unit.

“All the staff were so reassuring and put me at ease right from the start,” Gerry shared.

During his time on the Integrated Stroke Unit, “Gerry worked really hard with his therapy team during two to three sessions a day to help him regain his independence in areas such as bathing, dressing, walking, stair climbing, communication, swallowing, and fine motor activities,” said Connie Stamp, Patient Care Manager of the Integrated Stroke Unit. “As his strength and abilities returned, he progressed from a wheelchair to walking with assistance, and finally to a walker.”

“Working within the multi-disciplinary care team on the Integrated Stroke Unit is extremely rewarding,” added Physiotherapist Katie Jenkins.

“We work with individuals like Gerry, to develop and implement a personalized treatment plan, with the goal of maximizing functional recovery, and to eventually transition home.  Gerry was very committed to his recovery, and over the course of his rehab stay, he was able to make significant improvements in his ability to walk, as well as to manage his activities of daily living.”

After seven weeks of rehabilitation, Gerry was strong enough to go home in September. He continued to receive outpatient therapy through the outpatient neuro program at the Whitby Hospital. As well, he attended the Stroke Prevention Clinic at the Oshawa Hospital, which provides ongoing risk factor management, education, supports, and linkages to other services to help prevent patients from having another stroke in the future.

“When you’ve had a stroke, it’s just so overwhelming,” Gerry added. “However, the stroke recovery team at Lakeridge Health gives you care and confidence you need every step of the way. They give you hope!”

For more information about stroke and the signs of a stroke please visit heartandstroke.ca.

Father and son physicians deliver generations of care

Bryanna Kleinsteuber with her partner Caleb Penton and baby BentlyWhen Oshawa resident Bryanna Kleinsteuber found out she was pregnant with her first child in 2018, selecting Lakeridge Health physician Dr. Paul Pancham as her obstetrician was an easy choice.

“I knew I wanted to deliver at Lakeridge Health as my community hospital, but what made Dr. Pancham a special choice was that his father delivered me,” Bryanna explained.

Bryanna’s mom, Michelle, had Paul’s father, Dr. Sonny Pancham, as her obstetrician. Fast forward a few decades later to 2021 and Bryanna has just celebrated the birth of her second child, Bently, and once again her obstetrician was the son who has followed in his father’s career footsteps.

In addition to this special connection, Bently also has the distinction of being a New Year’s baby – and the first one born at Lakeridge Health in 2021!

“Everyone at Lakeridge Health has been amazing throughout both my pregnancies and having this history with Dr. Pancham has only added to my experience,” Bryanna shared.

For Dr. Paul Pancham, who has delivered more than 5,000 babies in his 20-year career at Lakeridge Health, encountering a mother/daughter link like with Bryanna and Michelle is something he’s experienced a few times. However, he admits that it “always brings me a lot of happiness.”

“It’s an honour to be part of helping a family to grow over generations."

Lakeridge Health@Home program a very special holiday “gift” for couple

LH@Home with the GibsonsRuss Gibson never imagined that leg pain would lead to him being in a wheelchair.

Last September, the healthy 73-year-old felt an odd ache in his legs. After later collapsing on his bathroom floor when his legs gave out beneath him, Russ was admitted to Lakeridge Heath’s Oshawa Hospital, where he was diagnosed with Gillian Barre Syndrome (GBS) – a rare disorder where the body's immune system attacks the nerves.

By this time, Russ had lost the ability to walk and was transferred to the Whitby Hospital for rehab. When his condition did not improve, his care team discovered that he was suffering from chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) – a chronic form of GBS.

Hospital care was no longer the best option for Russ, and he was set to be discharged in early December.

“We were both overwhelmed. Russ with the progression of his illness and me with the prospect of being his primary caregiver,” said Russ’ wife Katrina.

However, a few days before Russ’ discharge, the couple learned that they would be enrolled in the Lakeridge Health@Home program.

Launched in the fall of 2020 in partnership with SE Health, a not-for-profit home care provider, the Lakeridge Health@Home program provides patients at risk of becoming alternate level of care (ALC) with a comprehensive care from an interdisciplinary team, including nursing, personal support, occupational and physiotherapy, speech therapy and others, specifically tailored around a patient’s care needs.

Through the creation of personalized, post-discharge, holistic plans of care, the Program decreases the amount of time patients spend in hospital and ensures their safe transition from hospital to home. These care plans also promote assistance beyond medical care and may include help with community and social connections, meals and housing.

“Within the first two hours after we came home members of the team began to arrive,” Katrina explained. “First a personal support worker, then a nurse, and later a therapist to help him with his exercises.”

Katrina shared that “everyone worked so hard to resolve any issues we encountered, and the team is like part of the family now.”

Russ continues to work hard with the members of his care team and is “determined to be in a walker by springtime. There's no two ways about it.”

“The Lakeridge Health@Home program was the very best holiday gift we could have received,” added Katrina. 

Addressing COVID-19 uncertainty through education


COVID-19 EducationAs the COVID-19 pandemic grew last spring, Dr. Nour Khatib and Dr. Katey Jakins could feel the uncertainty growing along with it.

The two Emergency physicians – who are also Education Co-Leads for Lakeridge Health’s Emergency Departments (EDs) – quickly identified a significant learning opportunity for their colleagues as they responded to the pandemic.

“The details about COVID-19 were still emerging and everyone was very unsure about how to safely care for our patients and ourselves,” said Dr. Jakins.

In order to help address these concerns, the physicians worked with Lakeridge Health Critical Care physician and Medical Director of Academic Affairs Dr. Randy Wax to develop a dedicated COVID-19 education program.

Through a series of posters and simulation events, physicians learned critical elements of safely treating COVID-19 patients, including providing CPR and oxygen, and intubation. 

Together with their colleague Dr. Larry Nijmeh, Dr. Khatib and Dr. Jakins have also created the not-for-profit Emergency Medicine Vision for Education in Canada – or EMVEC – to be able to offer education to more interdisciplinary teams, both within Lakeridge Health and beyond. The group has already held virtual rounds and two virtual conferences focusing on a variety of Emergency Medicine topics. 

As well, Dr. Khatib has shared these best practices and led COVID-19 simulation exercises with medical staff in during her locums in the Northwest Territories. 

“The work of these talented and passionate physicians is an example of how our teams have come together throughout this pandemic to support their colleagues and deliver exceptional care to our patients,” said Dr. Tony Stone, Chief of Staff.

As the province navigates the second wave of the pandemic, Dr. Khatib notes how the situation is now, in many ways, the opposite of last spring. “Although there’s not as much uncertainty, cases are still rising, and our focus must be on continued vigilance and staying up to date so we can best care for the Durham region community.”

Enabling a safe transition from hospital with Lakeridge Health@Home


Health at HomeA new pilot project at Lakeridge Health will enable more patients to transition home from hospital safely and with greater confidence. In collaboration with St. Elizabeth Health Care, the Lakeridge Health@Home program provides frail patients at risk of becoming alternate level of care (ALC) with a comprehensive “basket” of services, including nursing, personal support, occupational and physiotherapy, speech therapy and others, specifically tailored around a patient’s care needs.

“We’re excited to offer this integrated approach to care that will enable eligible patients to go home sooner and provide a more seamless and patient-centred approach to services,” said Janis Klein, Director of Medicine and Transitional Management.

“The Lakeridge Health@Home program will partner with patients and their families in a way that safely coordinates community, primary care and hospital services and ‘wraps’ care around an individual.”

Starting next week, Lakeridge Health team members and St. Elizabeth Health Care staff will begin to identify 30 eligible patients in the Medicine, Post-Acute Specialty Services (PASS) and Surgery programs across the system. Once enrolled into the Lakeridge Health@Home program, they will receive supports for up to 16-weeks post discharge.

“Learning from other hospitals that have implemented this integrated approach, we know the Lakeridge Health @Home program will help to provide care options in a coordinated and timely manner and decrease future visits to the Emergency Department,” said Janis.

“What’s more, Lakeridge Health @Home aligns with our strategic directions to improve population health, create an integrated system of care and our commitment to individual health care.”


Virtual care addresses “a whole new layer of concern” for
patients during COVID-19


Rebecca and Richard BudeLike many young couples, Rebecca and Richard Bude were ecstatic to learn Rebecca was expecting their first child in the spring of this year. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Rebecca was unsure of the impact being exposed to the virus would have on herself and her unborn child. She became increasingly uncomfortable with attending her in-person doctor appointments.

Rebecca’s apprehension increased at her 12-week ultrasound when she was told that her baby had an increased nuchal translucency (NT), increasing the risk for chromosomal and other genetic abnormalities. Rebecca’s family doctor referred her to Lakeridge Health’s Clinical Genetics program, which had had begun to see most patients through virtual care appointments.

“Although the pandemic changed how my husband and I were experiencing my pregnancy and the ultrasound results added a whole new layer of concern for us, I was really thankful that I was able to connect with the genetics team,” said Rebecca.

“My genetic counsellor, Deborah Verbaan, was supportive and reassuring and I felt so comfortable with her. She answered all of our questions and gave us information that helped us better understand everything.”

“Virtual care has really evolved into an effective and necessary option as we continue to provide care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kirsten Burgomaster, Lakeridge Health’s Interim Regional Vice President of Cancer Services, who also leads the Clinical Genetics program.

In addition to many outpatient services now offering virtual care, programs such as Virtual Ward, Telehomecare Program, and Remote Surgical Monitoring Program are examples of how Lakeridge Health inpatient teams are using virtual care to limit direct contact with others and decrease the risk of transmission after patients return home. What’s more, virtual care has a positive impact in patients’ recovery – reducing anxiety, as well as Emergency Department visits and hospital readmissions.

Although Rebecca still had to visit the hospital for some ultrasounds and lab appointments, the couple avoided many in-person counselling visits. Ultimately, testing revealed no additional concerns for their baby, and they are happily awaiting a wonderful new addition to their family in the New Year. 

“Even virtually, the genetics team has always been there for me,” adds Rebecca. 


Knitting Families Together

How matching knitted hearts are connecting hospital patients with their families

Knitted HeartsProviding high quality patient-centred care has always been Registered Nurse Connie Blohm’s passion. When COVID-19 hit, the RN, who works in Oshawa Hospital’s  Intensive Care Unit, saw first-hand how upsetting the visiting restrictions were on patients and their families and wanted a way to help connect them from afar.

“We recognized how difficult it must be with the pandemic for a patient not to have their family at the bedside and we were looking for a way to support them,” says Blohm. “I saw this idea for knitting or crocheting hearts in pairs on Facebook being used by a nurse in Spain. One heart goes to the patient and the other to the family as a visual connection for patients and families who cannot be together.”

Blohm suggested the idea to her ICU teammates and they jumped on board, quickly launching “Knitting Families Together.” Her fellow ICU RN Beth Game reached out to all the funeral homes in the surrounding area to gain their support and the ICU nurses spread the word through the Lakeridge Strong Facebook page. Before long, matching double hearts started to arrive at the hospital.

Says Blohm, “These hearts are an expression of the love, compassion and caring each nurse and community member feels toward patients and their families, when visiting restrictions have kept them apart in order to keep everyone safe. The knitted hearts are a token to keep for years to come, letting them know that we are there for them. It seemed to offer some peace to the family and I knew this was something we could definitely introduce here.”

The double heart initiative is in use throughout the ICU for patients and their families during this time. The nurse provides one heart to the patient, letting them know that the matching heart will be given to their family. Arrangements are made with the family to pick up the other heart.

Since introducing Knitting Families Together, the initiative has made a difference in the lives of many patients and their families.

“I had one patient in our ICU who was intubated and missing his wife. While she would call daily and communicate with him face-to-face via our Virtual Connections program, they were still both very upset,” says Blohm. “I explained the heart initiative with him and he reached up and took the knitted heart from my hand so gently, holding it in his own. I told him I would give his wife the other matching heart and he nodded yes. Soon after, I spoke with his wife, sharing with her the same information. She immediately started to relax and stated: ‘I think I am going to cry.’ The next morning, a fellow RN arranged to meet his wife in the hospital front lobby to give her the heart… the family was knitted together.”

In addition to helping patients and families connect, Blohm has noticed the knitted hearts have also made an impact on fellow team members.

“I find these hearts are a great form of communication when team members are faced with difficult discussions with families. It’s a conversation starter,” she says, adding that her own daughter Brittany works on another floor in the hospital and is fairly new to nursing. “She expressed to me that she wished she had the hearts there.”    

Patients and families in Oshawa Hospital’s ICU, G9 and C7 units have been a part of the knitted hearts initiative with plans to spread the initiative to all ICUs and inpatient units across Lakeridge Health. 

Says Blohm, “I am so happy we can provide this connection to the patient and the families to ease their emotional strain. Special regards to all our community knitters. We could not do this without them.” 


Do you knit, crochet or sew and would like to help?

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Hearts should be approx. 2.5 to 3 inches in size, so that they can comfortably be held in the palm of the hand.
  2. Please use clean yarn/material, any colour although red and pink preferred.
  3. Place hearts in a clear, sealed bag, and write FOR PATIENT EXPEREINCE and THE DATE YOU SEALED IT on the outside of the bag. Please also label the bag your name and phone number.
  4. Drop off the bag(s) containing the hearts to any Lakeridge Health Hospital entrance screener station and leave with the screening staff.

Here are links to some recommended patterns:

For more information, please contact our Patient Experience Consultant, Lina Reid, at lireid@lh.ca or 905-576-8711 ext. 32434.

Making a New Path that’s Right for Me

Smashing Mental Health Stigma - By Lori L.M.

Lori L.M.I grew up in Pickering in a house with mental illness. My dad was clinically depressed, but larger than life and full of fun. When he was sad, he would sit, motionless for hours at a time and I would desperately try to make him laugh. I thought every one's dad was this way. I didn't know about stigma until I started having my own symptoms in my teens. It was then that I found my own ways to manage keeping my feelings to myself, mainly through the consumption of alcohol.

At 19 years of age, I was diagnosed with depression, which wasn't a surprise to my family given my dad's history. Throughout my early adulthood into my 40s, I dealt sporadically with my illness, sometimes using my prescribed medication and other times not.

Three years ago, at the age of 48 while living in Whitby, I broke down, forcing a long overdue visit to my doctor who referred me to Lakeridge Health. My physician recommended that I take time off work and focus on health, and I set about meeting my new psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist at Lakeridge Health really listened to me and cared about where I was at mentally and emotionally and what I could do to feel better. There were assessments, conversations and a new diagnosis – Bipolar 2. This was a pivotal moment in my life and it changed everything. I was thrilled! Finally, something that made sense and a chance to deal with my illness effectively.

A change in my medication followed along with a referral to Lakeridge Health’s Mental Health Day Program in Oshawa Hospital, which was monumental in my path to recovery. The Day Program showed me that I wasn't alone and that I had more control over my recovery than I ever thought. One of the clinicians said to me, "This is YOUR LIFE. You have every right to feel good." That really stuck with me.

From there, I was referred to Ontario Shore's Partial Hospitalization Program for 12 weeks. Because of the help I received through each of these programs, I’m able to make a new path that’s right for me. 

Currently, I see my psychiatrist every couple of months. While there are days when I have ups and downs, I don't feel isolated or alone anymore as I know that help is just a phone call or appointment away.

I’m hoping that by sharing my story, I can help to smash mental health stigma and keep moving forward on my recovery path. I feel more successful now than ever before in my life.


Lakeridge Health offers a range of mental health and addictions services across Durham Region and Scarborough by over 300 health professionals, other staff and physicians. We continue to bring on new services and programs to meet the ever growing needs of the region’s communities. For more information on our mental health, substance use and problem gambling services, visit https://www.lakeridgehealth.on.ca/en/ourservices/Mental-Health---Pinewood-Centre.asp.

Don’t let the flu ruin your holidays!

There is still time to get your flu shot — and help to keep you and your family healthy this winter season.

Dr. Dan Ricciuto

As the chief and medical director of quality and patient experience and infection control at Lakeridge Health, I see, first-hand, the strain that the influenza (flu) season has on the population and on our busy emergency departments.

We are already seeing patients with the flu at our hospitals and, with this year’s flu season anticipated to peak in the next few weeks, we will see more people with the flu over the winter months.

There is still time to get your flu shot — and help to keep you and your family healthy this winter season.

Anyone can get sick from the flu.

If you have the flu, you can spread it to others, particularly to your family members and co-workers, even if you do not feel sick.

The flu vaccine is the easiest and most effective way to prevent the flu and protect other people from potential serious illness.

The benefits of the flu vaccination are clear: It reduces hospitalizations and deaths related to influenza.

It is safe for those six months of age and older, including pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The flu shot cannot give you the flu.

Minor side effects may include soreness at the injection site and, occasionally, headache, low-grade fever or muscle aches. Serious side effects such as anaphylaxis are very rare.

The flu shot is free and available at your physician’s office, local public health unit, pharmacies and some workplaces.

Some people with the flu will get better on their own, without medical attention. However, if you may be at risk of complications, visit your family physician or an urgent care or walk-in clinic, if you suspect you have the flu. Early treatment with antiviral medication, for example Tamiflu, may shorten the duration of symptoms and lower the risk of complications of the flu.


One of the ways you can prepare in advance is to know your family physician’s or clinic’s hours of operation, and knowing where urgent care or walk-in-clinics are in your area can also help you find the right care when you need it. For a list of urgent care and walk-in clinics in Durham Region, go to https://www.lakeridgehealth.on.ca/en/ourservices/emergency-and-urgent-care-options-.asp. Calling Telehealth 1-866-797-0000 can also help you to determine what type of care you need.

Unless you are very sick, it is often best to avoid the emergency department. But, at any time, if anyone is experiencing a high fever (103 degrees Fahrenheit or 39.4 degrees Celsius or higher), has difficulty breathing, chest pain or abdominal pain, sudden dizziness, confusion or severe vomiting — visit the emergency department.

For more information on protecting yourself from the flu, view this brief video series: Flu Facts with Dr. Dan.

Dr. Dan Ricciuto, MD, FRCPC, Infectious Diseases physician, Chief and Medical Director, Quality and Patient Experience and Physician Lead Infection Prevention and Control, and Antimicrobial Stewardship at Lakeridge Health.

Comfort for Families During Overnight Hospital Stays

Sleeper Chair“The ability to have loved ones stay over is so beneficial for the individual and their families." - Heather Burt

For many patients, having a loved one close by makes a significant difference in their comfort and quality of life, especially overnight.

“In 2018, we evaluated our Family Presence policy, looking for opportunities to support our teams while engaging patients’ families and loved ones in their care,” says Kim Lawn, Interim Director of Patient Experience at Lakeridge Health. “The results showed that, while patients were happy having family and friends close by and staff were happy to have family on the units participating in their loved one’s care, they wanted improvements in overnight stays.”

The challenge was there was no place for the family member to stay and sleep. Enter the sleeper chair, a versatile and comfortable arm chair that folds flat into a single bed. Light safe and easy to wipe down, the chairs are designed for both users and the hospital team.

“The ability to have loved ones stay over is so beneficial for the individual and their families,” says Heather Burt, a registered nurse with Lakeridge Health’s Ajax Pickering Hospital’s Post Acute Specialty Services (PASS) program. “These chairs are gorgeous and much nicer than other sleepers we’ve seen in hospitals. Plus they’re light enough that we can move them easily from room to room.”

Identified as a strategy to  improve the experience for patients and families, 45 sleeper chairs were ordered and delivered in late October and distributed across the four acute care hospitals at Lakeridge Health.

“We put a call out to staff asking who needed chairs. We now have 17 on the Women’s and Children’s unit, eight in surgery, nine in medicine, four in PASS and seven in critical care. Feedback so far shows that when families stay overnight this provides comfort to everyone and gives families and partners-in-care the opportunity to be involved in their love one’s healing journey,” says Lawn. “Because patients and the care team worked together to come up with this solution, the sleeper chair is having a meaningful impact on people’s care experience.”

There is now a chair in every room now in Ajax and Pickering Hospital’s Labour and Birthing suite.

“As the population ages, the needs of patients are changing. More and more patients have cognitive challenges, which can be disorienting and upsetting,” says Burt. “Having family close by throughout the night in a nearby sleeper chair helps people to settle. By supporting the family, we end up supporting the patient.”

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness MonthDid you know that lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers)?

It’s estimated that in 2019:

  • 29,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer.
  • 21,000 Canadians will die from lung cancer.
  • 80 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day.
  • 58 Canadians will die from lung cancer every day.
  • About 1 in 14 Canadian men and 1 in 15 Canadian women will develop lung cancer during their lifetime.*

Lakeridge Health is one of only four hospitals in the province that offers lung cancer care from screening, diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials. 

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs. Common symptoms include a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time, constant chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness and repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis.

While most cancers are the result of many risk factors, many people who get lung cancer have smoked or been around second-hand smoke. Smoking tobacco is the most important risk factor for lung cancer. Up to 85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Other things that may cause lung cancer are environmental factors such as exposure to radon (radioactive gas found naturally in soil and rocks), asbestos, air pollution, occupational exposure to certain chemicals, personal or family history of lung cancer, exposure to radiation and a weakened immune system.

Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa Hospital has been partnering with Cancer Care Ontario since 2017 to pilot an organized lung cancer screening program.** Patients between the age of 55 and 74 who have smoked cigarettes daily for a minimum of 20 years (current or past smokers) may be eligible for lung cancer screening through the High Risk Lung Cancer Screening Pilot. To find out if you are eligible for screening, call 905-576-8711 x34449. 

“​Early diagnosis of lung cancer is key to successful treatment. Just like screening for other cancers, we are now working toward using screening to detect lung cancer at an early stage, using low dose CAT scans,” says Dr. John Dickie, Lakeridge Health’s Chief of Surgery and Section Chief of Thoracic Surgery (lung cancer). “If concerns arise, diagnosis occurs through our Diagnostic Assessment Program (DAP), a regional program with clinics in the Durham Regional Cancer Centre, Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Scarborough Health Network.”

Adds Dr. Dickie, “Patients with a suspicion of lung cancer are referred to the DAP where they receive the support of a nurse navigator along with a thoracic surgeon or respirologist to confirm or rule out lung cancer.” 

The risk of developing lung cancer increases with age. More than half of all newly diagnosed lung cancer cases occur amongst smokers aged 60 years or older. Men develop lung cancer slightly more often than women.

When lung cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better.

“​We encourage smokers to speak to their family doctors or nurse practitioners about lung cancer screening,” says Dr. Dickie. “​Through screening and the highest quality cancer care, we are determined to improve outcomes in people with lung cancer.”


* For information and statistics on lung cancer, visit Cancer Care Ontario’s website: www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/lung/lung-cancer/?region=on  

** For more information on the DRCC’s High Risk Lung Cancer Screening pilot, visit www.HRLung.ca 


Supporting Our Smallest Community Members

Durham Families Celebrate World Preemie Day

Oscar ForemanOn November 17, landmarks across Canada will light up in purple to honour babies, their families and their dedicated caregivers in celebration of World Prematurity (Preemie) Day. 

“We have invited our preemie grads and their families to come in for refreshments and purple cupcakes to celebrate the day and reconnect with the nurses who cared for them,” says Julie Rojas, Patient Care Manager, Maternal Newborn Program & Neonatal Intensive Care. “This is our way of acknowledging the journeys of our preterm infants and their families as well as raising awareness of the challenges faced by children born preterm and their families.” 

In Canada, one in 12 babies is born preterm, meaning that they were born earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. While medical advances have improved the outcomes for premature babies, many preemies can have medical complications including low birth weight, underdeveloped lungs and feeding problems.

Oscar ForemanThis was the experience of three-year-old Oscar Foreman of Oshawa.

When Oscar entered the world on February 5, 2016, he weighed only one pound 14 ounces.

His mom, Kim, had been in the Maternal and Newborn unit at Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa Hospital for several days when her care team decided transfer her to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for high-risk births. 

“It was a really stressful time for my wife, Christina, and I,” says Kim. “He was getting sicker staying inside of me and I was getting sicker as well, so we had to deliver. When he was born, while he had really big feet and hands, he was extremely small for 29 and-a-half weeks.”

Oscar spent over a month in the NICU at Sunnybrook Health Science’s Centre before being transferred to Lakeridge Health Oshawa’s NICU on March 17, 2016.

“The Oshawa Hospital NICU has 14 beds and four nurses on each shift to support our young patients and their families,” says Rojas. “The team is attending to premature babies that have been transferred from high-risk NICUs so that families and their babies can be closer to home. We offer a range of therapies and specialized treatment for newborns and we are sensitive to the fact that these families are going through an extremely stressful time in their lives.”

Lakeridge Health's Oshawa and Ajax Pickering Hospitals are home to two NICUs that serve Durham Region. 

Oscar ForemanThe Oshawa Hospital NICU accepts babies transferred from intensive care units at Sick Kids, Mount Sinai and Sunnybrook Hospitals.  The Oshawa NICU is also a regional hub for babies in need of intensive care from Peterborough to Cobourg and beyond.

Ajax-Pickering has a level 2B Special Care Nursery. This means that the hospital can deliver and care for babies as premature as 32 weeks gestation. Special Care Nursery services include supporting premature infants, administering antibiotics, phototherapy and more.

Worldwide, the complications of preterm birth are among the leading causes of death in children under five years old.

“No one ever wants to be in a NICU. You are already extremely stressed out with all the worries that come with having a preemie then you add to it an open nursery environment. There’s a lot going on and it’s very challenging,” says Kim. “It helps when you have a great team from the beginning, like we did, making the transition a lot better.”

Oscar Foreman“The Lakeridge Health NICU nurses were the hands of God for us during that time. Our great lactation consultant, Debbie Crosbie, was a tremendous help to us and our paediatrician, Dr. Almadani, supported us to get on track. He’s now also the paediatrician for our second son, Angus.”

This is the third year that Lakeridge Health is hosting the World Preemie Day event.

“We recognize that when a preemie enters the world it is a very sensitive time in a family’s life, riddled with both excitement and anxiety. We hold this event to help connect our families and let them know they’re not alone,” says Rojas.

As for Oscar, you would never know that he was born premature. He attends pre-school, skis and is learning to skate this year.

“With a preemie, you worry about things like will he walk, talk, et cetera and Oscar has surpassed it all,” says Kim. “You realize as parents that the only way out is through. You have to be hopeful. This is a time in your life you’ll never forget and, at some point, it will just be part of your bigger story.”

Oscar Foreman

Laboratory Medicine Achieves Near Perfect Accreditation Score

“This is validation that Lakeridge Health’s Laboratory Medicine program is providing the highest quality of laboratory services for the patients and clinicians using our services.” - Judy Sherman-Jones

Lakeridge Health’s Laboratory Medicine team has achieved a near perfect accreditation score from the Institute for Quality Management in Healthcare (IQMH), validating the excellent quality service the organization’s labs provide to patients and clinicians in Durham.

The four Lakeridge Health labs at Ajax Pickering, Bowmanville, Oshawa and Port Perry Hospitals collectively scored 99.7% on national and international laboratory medicine standards. Every day across Lakeridge Health, upwards of 220 laboratory medicine professionals conduct thousands of tests that are critical for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions and diseases.

Lakeridge Health Laboratory Teams“Patients and clinicians expect that we provide excellent service, and this year’s exceptional accreditation score demonstrates the excellent work that we do,” says Grant Johnson, Clinical Director of Laboratory Medicine and Infection Prevention and Control. “Thank you to all our frontline, senior leadership, management and medical/scientific teams for their dedication to providing the best care for patients and for building a strong regional laboratory medicine system for Durham.”

IQMH provides a regular, objective and independent assessment of all clinical laboratories in Ontario, elevating the integrity of an organization’s medical diagnostic testing system. The assessment covered 1,755 requirements based on the ISO 15189 standard and numerous other national and international technical standards.

“This is validation that Lakeridge Health’s Laboratory Medicine program is providing the highest quality of laboratory services for the patients and clinicians using our services,” says Judy Sherman-Jones, Quality Manager for the Laboratory Medicine Program.

“With our Quality Management System, we are continuously monitoring the outcomes of our lab processes so that we can drive the improvements that make the greatest difference,” says Sherman-Jones.

Stories of Hope and Success Shared at this Year’s Recovery Awareness Breakfast

 “Hosting this Recovery Awareness Breakfast asserts our belief that recovery is not only possible, it should be expected.” - Debbie Whiteway

Chris Cull, MC at Recovery BreakfastOn Wednesday, October 9, the 13th Annual Recovery Awareness Breakfast took place at the Jubilee Pavilion Banquet and Conference Centre in Oshawa. Hosted by Lakeridge Health’s Pinewood Centre in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association and Durham Mental Health Services, the event brought together health care providers and individuals in recovery with the aim to raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental illness and addiction.

“Hosting this Recovery Awareness Breakfast asserts our belief that recovery is not only possible, it should be expected,” said Debbie Whiteway, Manager of the Pinewood Centre and Mental Health Women’s Residential Treatment Program. “Recovery in mental health refers to being able to live a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life, even when a person experiences ongoing symptoms.”

Close to 145 people took part in this year’s breakfast where they heard first-hand inspirational stories of hope and recovery. Attendees are current clients of the sponsoring agencies and their counsellors.

“Each person at the event has a unique and powerful recovery journey to share, reminding us that recovery is possible,” said Whiteway.

“The more we share our stories, the more we tear down barriers,” said Chris Cull, the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

The Recovery Awareness Breakfast is held annually this time of year to honour both September’s Recovery Month and Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, MIAW is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness.

Four speakers spoke at the Breakfast, sharing their stories of success and recovery with the group.

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone,” said Rachel, one of the presenters. “I lost two years of my life to drug addiction before making it back to my family. I’m grateful for the amazing counselling I received through the Pinewood Centre and the other groups here today.”

Mapping Their Way Across Canada, One Step at a Time

“We wanted to do something out of the ordinary to promote fitness along with camaraderie with our patients.” - Carole Runions

Whitby residents Donna Tiller and Debbie MacDonald have had fun and shared some laughs on their Trek Across Canada. It’s a Tuesday morning in the Ambulatory Rehab Clinic (ARC) at Lakeridge Health’s Whitby Hospital. Patients from the Knee Replacement Group are taking part in their regular bi-weekly physiotherapy session, chatting amongst themselves as they move from station to station exercising their knees. In the clinic are a host of stationary bikes along with a treadmill, elliptical, a set of stationary stairs, balance bars and weights. At first glance, it seems like a typical clinic set up. What makes this session a bit different is the large map of Canada that hangs on the wall behind the bikes.

“We wanted to do something out of the ordinary to promote fitness along with camaraderie with our patients,” explains physiotherapist Carole Runions. “So we introduced this idea of a ‘Trek Across Canada’ where people log their steps and watch their journey on the map. It seemed like a perfect activity for our clientele.”

The clinic sees a wide range of orthopaedic patients that have had hip, knee, ankle and other bone-related surgeries. On average, the clinic staff, comprised of three physiotherapists and one rehabilitation assistant, see 50 new patients each month. “In July alone, we had 468 treatment visits with patients,” says Donna Murczek, Patient Care Manager for the Ambulatory Rehab Centre. “For a little clinic, it has a huge impact. Our patients come from across Lakeridge Health hospitals as well as many downtown Toronto hospitals.”

When staff heard of the map concept, they decided to give it a try and engaged patients to select a route along with a starting point (Vancouver Island) and ending location (Prince Edward Island). They settled on the Trans Canada Highway, covering 6,116 kilometres.

Donna Tiller is working alongside the parallel bars testing her balance post-workout. Originally from Newfoundland, Tiller has lived in Whitby for years and is grateful to have the clinic close by for her twice a week appointments. This is the 63-year-old’s second knee surgery and it’s taking a little longer than she expected to recover as she suffered this time around from an infection in the knee.

“I have my goal, which is to not walk with a limp,” says Tiller. “This map trek helps motivate me to go a bit further each time with my physio. The most I’ve collected so far has been 8.45 kilometres from the bike and 3 kilometres from the elliptical. It’s been fun… we all have a good laugh each time.”

Debbie MacDonald agrees. The 66-year-old loves using the bike as part of her recovery for a partial knee replacement. “I can’t believe how much I increase my distance every time I go for clinic.”

On this particular Tuesday, MacDonald has clocked 7.2 kilometres, up from 2.4 when she first started. She finds the map is adding to the fun of attending her physiotherapy sessions.

“When I’m biking, I close my eyes and envision I’m actually biking across Canada,” she says with a smile, adding she’s done the trip before by car, plane and train.

There are currently just over 60 people taking part in the trek. The average age of the patients are 50 and up. “We’re now seeing patients earlier after discharge,” says Murczek. “The early start date helps to improve their functional outcomes. This trek competition gives them something to watch and look forward to.”

Long time Whitby resident, “I’ve been here 59 years!”, Margaret Smith is just finishing on a seated elliptical. Eight weeks post knee surgery, she’s quite happy to have completed 563 steps this week compared with her 410 last week.

Says Smith, “I think this map contest is great! It’s been encouraging me to go further than I would normally.”

Witnessing the growing enthusiasm of their patients, the clinic’s staff decided to join in the fun and promote fitness by providing an example and some healthy competition with the patients by wearing a Fitbit and counting their steps. To date, the patients have thoroughly enjoyed the dual purpose and the extra competition.

Diabetes Program Spearheads Food Drive

523 Meals Contributed for Feed the Need in Durham

In June, Lakeridge Health’s Diabetes Program in collaboration with Healthy Workplace took part in Feed the Need in Durham’s Business Food Drive. The group successfully contributed the equivalent of 523 meals for those in need! This is the second year in a row staff from the program have supported the Business Food Drive.

Diabetes Food Drive Infographic“While picking up supplies last summer for a Feed the Need in Durham (FTND) fundraiser my boys were taking part in, I was asked whether Lakeridge Health might want to participate in the group’s annual Business Food Drive,” says Dr. Rachel Chong, an Endocrinologist with the Lakeridge Health’s Diabetes Program. “I took the idea back to my team and we jumped at the chance! As a Diabetes Program, it made total sense to support such a great cause and to sponsor this food drive.” 

FTND is the regional food distribution hub for emergency food providers. Based in Oshawa, FTND distributes approximately 100,000 pounds of food and other necessary products each month to 62 social service agencies across the region, including food banks, shelters, in school snack programs and soup kitchens. Food drives and donations are typically more thought of during the fall and winter seasons. Consequently, there is often a dip in donations that results in a food drought in the warehouse during summer. To help combat this, FTND reaches out to the community for additional support to help meet the needs of those facing hunger across Durham Region.

“We are so fortunate to have partners like Lakeridge Health in our work to alleviate hunger in our community,” says Ben Earle, FTND’s Executive Director. “Lakeridge’s participation in the business food drive exemplifies their role as a leading institution in Durham and sets an example for others to follow. We thank all employees for their support.”

It made total sense for Lakeridge Health’s Diabetes Program to take part in the initiative. Based out of Port Perry, Whitby, Bowmanville and Ajax Hospitals, the program provides comprehensive Type 2 diabetes education across the region.

“We often see individuals who struggle with food insecurity and recognize that diabetes management is that much harder when you do not have ready access to healthy food,” says Dr. Chong.

This is the second year the Diabetes Program has hosted the food drive with 20 staff taking part across the four sites. Large rain barrels were set up at each participating site to collect food along with an online donation page through FTND website for monetary contributions.

“We look forward to making this an ongoing summer tradition to be a good neighbour and to bring awareness to the hunger faced by so many in our community,” says Dr. Chong.

Lakeridge Health brings virtual care option to chronic kidney disease patients

Disease can be treated but not cured says Lakeridge Health doctors

Michelle Donoghue, Dr. Ilan Lenga and Heather ReidKidneys serve as the body’s filtration system. If a person’s kidneys stop working properly, physicians may diagnose them with a condition called chronic kidney disease or “CKD,” a disease that can be treated but not cured.

Some people with CKD may progress to end-stage renal disease and require dialysis treatment to remove waste and extra fluid from their bodies, or must receive a kidney transplant. According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, roughly one in 10 Ontarians live with CKD and of those, some 12,000 are receiving dialysis, and another 8,000 are living with a renal transplant.

Lakeridge Health’s top-performing Regional Nephrology Program, located at the Whitby and Oshawa hospitals, is a one-stop regional centre offering a full range of kidney care to more than 1,000 patients and their families in Durham Region.

The Program’s Multi-Care Kidney Clinic, located at Whitby Hospital, helps approximately 500 Durham residents each year to manage their symptoms and slow the progression of CKD. The team of nephrologists, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and a social worker educate and support those with early-stage disease, wrapping services around each patient according to their personal needs.

The clinic has achieved a rate of over 90 per cent for “deferred dialysis starts,” far exceeding the provincial target of 75 per cent. This means that patients at the clinic remain healthy longer and are able to delay the start of dialysis.

Starting in September 2019, the home dialysis clinics will expand services into the “virtual” realm, offering online consults that can be done from the comfort and convenience of a patient’s home or in another preferred location.

This enables patients to access care where it suits them and gives them multiple ways to check-in with their care team as they manage their CKD. Through a simple internet connection, patients, like 60-year-old Raglan resident, Owen George, will soon be able to complement regular clinic visits with virtual visits at home.

Virtual health has the potential to transform care delivery by enabling patients to receive care wherever they are, including at home, work or even the cottage.

When Owen was diagnosed with CKD, he was able to manage his symptoms through a combination of dietary changes and support from his care team in the Multi-Care Kidney Clinic. But he eventually needed dialysis treatments.

Fortunately, Owen was a candidate for at-home dialysis. While Owen finds in-person checkups very helpful, the option of virtual care visits will allow him to significantly decrease the time he spends at the clinic, as well as the associated travel costs.

Lakeridge Health views virtual care as one of the most significant opportunities to empower patients with CKD and other conditions to improve their own health, and to increase access to services in both rural and urban areas in Durham Region.

For CKD patients with Lakeridge Health’s Regional Nephrology Program, this person-centred approach is making a clear difference to their quality of life and delaying the need for life-saving treatment.

Lakeridge Health’s Vision — One System. Best Health. — is about a future where all patients have access to this kind of personalized care.

For more information on kidney care at Lakeridge Health, visit our website www.lakeridgehealth.on.ca.

— Heather Reid, MHSc, director, Regional Nephrology Program; Dr. Ilan Lenga, nephrologist and chief information officer and Michelle Donoghue, registered nurse, clinical practice leader

Lakeridge Health Physicians and Staff Receive Education Awards

“This is such wonderful news. The fact that Lakeridge Health staff and affiliates received four of the six awards offered by Queen’s University School of Medicine – Distributed Medical Education is a testament to the quality of educational experience and programs we offer here.” - Elizabeth Corner

Congratulations to Lakeridge Health physicians Dr. Mahmoud Sakran and Dr. Davit Khachatryan for receiving this year’s Excellence in Teaching awards by Queen’s University School of Medicine’s Regional Education Office. Dr. Randy Wax, Medical Director of Critical Care, and Amanda Aquilina were also recognized with Education Development Awards for helping establish the Queen’s University comprehensive clerkship with Lakeridge Health.

Dr. Mahmoud SakranEstablished to acknowledge excellence in teaching, administration and mentorship in community sites, the awards recognize preceptors in the community who teach or mentor Queen’s medical students and residents, or have contributed to the design and/or development of educational material.

“This is such wonderful news. The fact that Lakeridge Health staff and affiliates received four of the six awards offered by Queen’s University School of Medicine – Distributed Medical Education is a testament to the quality of educational experience and programs we offer here,” says Elizabeth Corner, Lakeridge Health’s Director of Medical and Academic Affairs. “It is also a testament to the passion and dedication that these outstanding individuals have and we thank them for advancing teaching and learning at Lakeridge Health.”

Dr. Randy WaxA Pediatrician in Oshawa Hospital, Dr. Sakran has been nominated two years in a row for the Excellence in Teaching Award. Described as a patient educator, he makes it a priority to identify learning points whether dealing with a complicated or routine case. In the words of his students, “This (teaching) isn’t simply part of his job, but rather a true passion.”

Dr. Khachatryan, a Psychiatrist also from Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa Hospital, was nominated by an unprecedented seven learners. Said one of his students, “No clinical encounter was left without a debrief and, to this day, I recall the many thoughtful discussions we had about treatment approaches, and the complexities of psychiatric diagnoses.” Another student added, “I am so thankful to have had an outstanding teacher like Dr. Khachatryan to show me the fundamentals of quality patient care.”

Amanda AquilinaDr. Wax has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the innovative Comprehensive Clerkship program at Lakeridge Health and the Bowmanville Health Centre. The program enables Queen’s clerks to integrate into a family medicine practice for 11 months, as well as intersperse training in core disciplines to offer a fully integrated clerkship.

Amanda Aquilina is the champion for the innovative Comprehensive Clerkship Program. The development of this program required innovative planning, foresight to anticipate issues and roadblocks, and dedication to ensure that all the work was done for a successful launch. Amanda’s persistence and commitment to all of these enabled this to happen.

Last year, Lakeridge Health trained 1,956 students, of whom 300 are medical students. Seventy percent of the medical trainees came directly from Queen’s University.

“We have a strong partnership with Queens University, allowing us to help teach and train the medical and health care professionals of the future,” says Corner. “This is an enriching experience for the physicians and other health professionals on the team as well as they are able to share their valuable skills, knowledge and expertise and cultivate a strong teaching and learning environment.”

Learning to Walk Again


"When you suddenly lose your autonomy, it’s a big shock. It’s been really helpful for my recovery to have had such a positive, encouraging team helping me with my care." – Avner Gilaad

In March 2019, Avner Gilaad, a retired pharmacist, found himself on the floor of his Hastings-area hobby farm, unable to stand. A sudden, unexplained episode resulted in paralysis of the left side of his body. After being admitted to a nearby hospital, he spent nearly two months in treatment with little improvement and began to worry about his long-term independence.

His physicians recommended admission to an inpatient rehabilitation facility, which is how Avner came to Ajax Pickering Hospital where daily physical therapy was an essential part of his treatment and recovery.

“The staff here are welcoming, the facility is accommodating and, most importantly, the physical therapists have been great,” said Avner. “When you suddenly lose your autonomy, it’s a big shock. It’s been really helpful for my recovery to have had such a positive, encouraging team helping me with my care.”

Avner’s therapy began with stretching exercises, progressing to assisted walking with railings and later with a walker. With the progress he has made, Avner was expected to return home in a matter of weeks.

“It didn’t look like he would be able to walk again. If you could look at him now, his progress has been incredible!” says Samantha Burnett, a Registered Nurse and Unit Coordinator with Lakeridge Health’s Ajax Pickering Hospital. “Although he still has a long journey ahead of him, he has come a long way. Through hard work and perseverance on his part, and dedication and teamwork on ours, he is just a few weeks away from discharge home.”

Thinking about the path ahead, Avner mused “I’m excited to get home, but it’s a little scary too. I’ll need to reacclimatize to not having the same therapy regime. But my physiotherapist is providing suggestions for exercises I can continue to do at home, which will support my commitment to regain 90 per cent of my abilities.”

While he loves the peace and serenity of the countryside, Avner is also looking forward to trips to Toronto to visit the theatre and see movies when he recovers his strength.

“My neighbours have kindly cared for my ducks and chickens while I’ve been in the hospital. I can’t wait to get back to them, and to give the future a chance,” said Avner.

Against All Odds

"Lakeridge Health is more than just a hospital system. We received the support we needed all around when we needed it most." – Shahnaz Salim

Shahnaz Salim was four months pregnant when she learned her baby was at risk due to a slow fetal heart rate or “bradycardia”. The 39-year-old had travelled from her home in Bowmanville to Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa Hospital for a routine ultrasound and check up with her obstetrician when it became clear that something was wrong.

“When the technician did the ultrasound, the heart rate was so low they thought I was losing my baby,” she said. “It was very scary as I’m prone to miscarriages.”

Her obstetrician, Dr. Rotimi Akingbola, discovered that Shahnaz’s baby had a heart block, that Shahnaz likely had Lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease, and that her antibodies were attacking her baby’s heart, threatening the baby’s life. Teams from Lakeridge Health, Sinai Health System and SickKids quickly mobilized to ensure that mother and baby would survive.

At 28 weeks, Shahnaz’s water broke on her way to pick up her two children from daycare. Her brother rushed her to Oshawa Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED). A nurse from the Oshawa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) then accompanied her by ambulance to Sinai Health System for the delivery. When her son Jessiah was born, he weighed only three pounds, with a heart rate of only 38 beats per minute and had to undergo surgery at SickKids, becoming the smallest patient in Canada to ever receive a pacemaker.

Throughout the process, Dr. Akingbola and the nursing team from Oshawa Hospital closely monitored Shahnaz’s medical progress. A month after his birth, Jessiah was transferred to Oshawa Hospital’s NICU, where the nursing team received training from SickKids on the tiny pacemaker.

“I wanted Jessiah to be in Durham Region with our family. At Oshawa Hospital we received great care from a consistent team
of nurses who became knowledgeable about his specific case,” said Shahnaz.

“It’s always an everlasting joy when you are able to get a favourable outcome out of a difficult situation,” added Dr. Akingbola.

Since then, Shahnaz’s autoimmune disease is being effectively managed with the support of her medical team at Oshawa  Hospital.

“Lakeridge Health is more than just a hospital system. We received the support we needed all around when we needed it most,” said Shahnaz.

 Making A Difference

"I am deeply grateful for the team’s support to extend my life so I can continue to make a difference in the world as a mother and an educator." – Dr. Nicole Bell

Dr. Nicole Bell, an associate professor of Indigenous Studies in the School of Education at Trent University, often hears from her students about the impact her teaching has on their lives.

When the 50-year-old from Burleigh Falls, Ontario underwent radiation treatments for rectal cancer and then breast cancer, she wanted to ensure the radiation team members understood how they had made a difference in her life.

Nicole received her radiation treatment closer to home at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC). PRHC is a partner of the Central East Regional Cancer Program, a network of hospitals providing cancer services to the 1.6 million people across Central East Ontario. The R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre (DRCC) at Lakeridge Health operates a satellite radiation treatment unit at PRHC.

“I am dedicated to doing what is necessary to beat cancer because I have a family who needs me,” said Nicole, a mother of five boys ranging from 13 to 26 years-old.

An Anishinaabe (Bear Clan) from Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec, Nicole has lived in the Kawartha Lakes area for close to 30 years. For her and her family, it is important for Nicole to receive care in her home community, allowing her to balance western medicine with that of her Indigenous culture.

With a PhD in Native Studies from Trent University and years of teaching and research pertaining to Indigenous culture-based education, Nicole has unique knowledge to bring to the health system and cancer care programs. She was invited to become an Advisor on the DRCC’s Patient and Family Experience Advisory Council (PFEAC) and provide input into the Central East Regional Cancer Program’s First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and Urban Indigenous Cancer Strategy. Her contributions help to ensure Lakeridge Health and the Central East Regional Cancer Program appropriately respond to the needs of Indigenous communities.

“Purposefully engaging patients to hear about their experiences is an integral component of person-centred care
and helps us understand what we are doing well and the opportunities for us to improve,” explains Debbie Devitt,
Patient Experience Lead with the DRCC. “Partnering with advisors, like Nicole, ensures we are capturing the patient voice in the design, delivery and evaluation of the care we provide.”

“I am deeply grateful for the team’s support to extend my life so I can continue to make a difference in the world as a mother and an educator,” said Nicole.

It Takes a Team to Save a Life

 "It feels like a small-town hospital, but it’s part of a bigger system that delivered the services we needed from highly-trained, knowledgeable staff." – Ken Lamb

On a Thursday afternoon in late November 2018, 48-year-old Ken Lamb made his way to Oakwood, Ontario for his hockey game. The Port Perry sheep farmer used the weekly event at the Scugog Community Recreation Centre as a chance to catch up with his son, Kevin, and other farmers from the area.

Ken felt fine during the first half of the game but started having trouble catching his breath as the game progressed. With Ken still experiencing symptoms at the end of the game, his son drove him directly to Port Perry Hospital.

During the drive, the pair called Ken’s wife Karen to meet them at the hospital. Shortly after he arrived in the Emergency Department, Ken’s heart stopped beating several times.

“I knew that he could not have been in a better place when this happened,” said Karen. “It feels like a small-town hospital, but it’s part of a bigger system that delivered the services we needed from highly-trained, knowledgeable staff.”

Lakeridge Health staff immediately recognized that Ken was having a heart attack and needed a stent to allow blood flow to his heart. This meant transporting him to a nearby partner hospital for surgery. One of the physicians and the nurse who first saw him joined him in the ambulance to monitor his vitals and support his safe transfer.

“We take an interdisciplinary approach to care at Lakeridge Health,” said Joni Wilson, Patient Care Manager for Medicine, Surgery Unit and the Emergency Department at Port Perry Hospital. “When a code is called, physicians and staff from all areas respond. It’s all hands on deck.”

Within three hours of walking into Port Perry Hospital, Ken was in recovery. Two days later, he returned home. Less than a month later, he walked back into that same hospital, this time for the birth of his first grandchild. Four months post treatment, Ken is back to working on the farm. “I feel pretty good. I’m going for cardiac rehab in town now where I bike a lot. My heart doesn’t seem to mind, but my legs are feeling it,” he said, laughing.

Managing Kidney Disease from the Comfort of Home

"The staff took the time to train me at the clinic and then sent me home with a step-by-step book that shows me everything to do." – Ken Mehew

Ten years ago, Ken Mehew learned he had kidney disease, but everything seemed under control. The 76-year-old Newcastle resident had no symptoms until, in the fall of 2018, a routine blood test showed his kidneys were starting to fail. That’s when his primary care physician referred him to a nephrologist at Lakeridge Health.

“My health went downhill a lot faster than expected,” said Ken.

“Ken and his wife Gail attended the Multicare Kidney Clinic at Whitby Hospital for about two years prior to requiring dialysis. The couple received education about different types of dialysis and were very motivated to take a greater role in Ken’s kidney care journey,” said Dr. Charles Wei, Medical Director of the Regional Nephrology Program.

Eventually Ken needed to receive dialysis treatment. Four times a week for months, Ken and Gail, visited the clinic for lifesaving treatment. Winter conditions made travel difficult for Ken, who lost one of his legs in an accident several years ago.

“I don’t like to leave the house very much in winter due to the ice,” he said. “Also, having to drop me off and pick me up each time was taking a toll on my wife, as I no longer drive.”

When the couple heard that Lakeridge Health could offer at-home dialysis, they jumped at the opportunity. In preparation, Ken had surgery to allow his blood to flow through the dialysis machine. He then learned how to operate the machine himself.

“The staff took the time to train me at the clinic and then sent me home with a step-by-step book that shows me everything to do,” said Ken.

“Studies show that having treatment at home improves quality of life,” said Michelle Donoghue, Clinical Practice Leader with Lakeridge Health’s Regional Nephrology Program. “We are continually striving to meet people’s individual needs and, for many, this means learning to manage their kidney disease in the comfort of home.

“Managing this disease is not always easy,” Ken said. “Being active and healthy at home has been my priority. With three children, five grandchildren and a greatgrandchild on the way, my life is full!”

Colouring Outside the Lines


Durham resident Tracy Dixon learned she had colon cancer while sitting
in the emergency room at the Oshawa Hospital.

She had come to the hospital with intense stomach pain that had been bothering her intermittently for several months.

The weeks that followed were a blur of appointments and tests across Lakeridge Health. At Port Perry Hospital, Tracy received laparoscopic surgery to remove a tumour and 17 lymph nodes.

“Dr. Wang at Port Perry Hospital was a laparoscopic genius,” says Tracy.

“He helped calm me prior to my surgery and later removed the entire mass.”

Continue to full story.

Partnership Between Lakeridge and SickKids Ensures Best Care for Durham Kids


Q&A with Dr. Joan Abohweyere, Lakeridge Health Pediatrician

When your child is sick, nothing matters more than getting them the best available treatment and care. An innovative partnership between Lakeridge Health and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is ensuring kids in Durham Region receive the latest standard of medication for common childhood illnesses.  We spoke with Dr. Joan Abohweyere, paediatrician at Lakeridge Health about how the SickKids Formulary will benefit infants and children across Durham Region.  

Q: How does the partnership with SickKids benefit children and families in Durham Region?

Last fall, Lakeridge Health adopted The SickKids Formulary, a resource that assists pharmacists, physicians and other health professionals to deliver the latest standard in paediatric medication.  By providing specific medication dosing information and guidelines for common childhood illnesses, this tool is helping to ensure children in Durham Region receive the safest and most advanced medications in their own communities.

Q: How many Lakeridge Health hospitals are using the SickKids Formulary?

The SickKids Formulary is offered at all Lakeridge Health locations. Parents can be assured that their child’s medication is being prescribed and administered at a consistently high standard, whether a child is treated in the emergency department, has surgery or is admitted to a Lakeridge Health hospital.

Q: What are the most common illnesses supported by this program?

The SickKids Formulary covers medication for a range of common illnesses and conditions including asthma, pneumonia, seizures and complications related to Sickle Cell Anemia. Health professionals at Lakeridge Health prescribe and administer the same medications that these patients would receive at SickKids.  Drug therapy is continually changing making it challenging to stay current.  The medication list and information are regularly updated by pharmacy and medical experts at SickKids, which enables health professionals to offer the most up-to-date medication to our youngest patients.


Art Brings Comfort to People with Cancer in Durham Region


Coming to a hospital for cancer treatment and care can be a stressful experience for people living with cancer.

Innovative partnerships between the ArtWorks for Cancer Foundation (AWFC), O’Neill Collegiate & Vocational Institute (O'Neill C.V.I.) and R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre (DRCC) at Lakeridge Health are using the power of visual art to bring comfort to cancer patients and their families.

According to AWFC, a non-profit group with a mission to bring works of art to cancer treatment centres across Ontario, studies have shown that, for many patients, exposure to visual arts not only bolsters spirits and calm anxieties, it can also improve health outcomes. 

“The art is adding a sense of warmth to the cancer centre,” explained Debbie Devitt, Patient Experience Lead in the DRCC. “It brings smiles to patients’ faces. And it’s uplifting for staff to see the art on display every day when they come to work.”

Through the AWFC program, approximately 82 pieces of art now hang throughout the cancer centre.

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Finding The Best Care In The Right Place This Holiday Season


Cold and flu season is here. That means a large number of people will visit the emergency department seeking relief from influenza or "the flu" that hits around this time of year. Over the winter months, people are in close quarters with others and typically spend more time indoors, which puts everyone at greater risk of exposure to the flu.

 Emergency Department Leadership

As medical director, emergency medicine and critical care, and clinical director, emergency services at Lakeridge Health, we see, first-hand, the spike in flu-related emergency room visits. This year’s flu has arrived and, like most Ontario hospitals, we expect the number of confirmed cases of this common virus to keep rising over the next few months. Traditionally, the flu season begins in mid-November and peaks in early to mid-January.

This time of year, Lakeridge Health emergency departments are much busier than usual and we want to help people access the care that they need as close to home as possible, and, wherever possible, avoid a trip to the emergency department.

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Carriage House Helps People Regain Health and Quality of Life

By the time 66-year-old Rose McMullen was admitted to Oshawa Hospital, she was so sick with severe pneumonia that she had lost nearly 40 pounds from her already slight 100-pound frame. Rose, who lives with muscular dystrophy and arthritis, had been mostly housebound for years and did not realize how ill she was.

After two weeks of medical treatment, Rose’s health improved to the point where she no longer needed 24-7 acute hospital care. However, after her in-patient stay, the thought of going home made her anxious.

Rose and health care team

While acute care hospitals are designed for people with urgent health concerns, illness or conditions and specialized medical needs, for people like Rose who no longer need immediate medical services, there are better options in the community.

Given her already complex health condition, Rose was able to be part of a new program she credits with helping her build the physical, social and emotional strength to live on her own again.

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Welcoming New Life at Port Perry Hospital


Patient StoriesAt Lakeridge Health we are committed to providing our patients with high quality care that they can trust during some of the most important moments in their lives – and the first moments of their baby’s life.

Take Rebecca Bierworth, a Registered Nurse at the New Life Centre at the Port Perry Hospital, who chose to deliver her daughter Maci on-site surrounded by her colleagues.

“A lot of people thought it was odd, me deciding to have a baby with all of the people I work with in the room –but I know from being around them every day that they were the best people for the job.”

Rebecca was used to providing expectant and new mothers with advice for their babies, but now that she’s back to work after sharing that experience she feels like she can better relate to her patients. “Now I know exactly the intensity of what the parents are experiencing on the other side – it really gave me a new perspective on childbirth.”

After leaving the hospital, Rebecca returned to the New Life Centre to get some follow-up breastfeeding consultation from the lactation specialist. Despite training many new moms, she said it was comforting to have the resources and re-assurance of a team of health care professionals.

The New Life Centre in Port Perry Hospital specializes in providing care for low-risk healthy pregnancies, from labour and deliveries, right through to their return home and will be re-opened when the hospital becomes operational the week of September 3 – 8. In the interim, mothers looking for breastfeeding advice can visit the Breastfeeding Clinic at the Medical Associates of Port Perry located at 462 Paxton Street, directly across the street from the Port Perry Hospital.

 Committed to Exceptional Patient Experiences

Patient StoriesAt Lakeridge Health, we recognize that time spent in health care facilities can be unexpected, and challenging, and we are constantly working to ensure better health outcomes in our communities and the Durham Region at large.

Take Kathy Olden, a Whitby Shores resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer late last summer after bumping into her stair railing. “Initially, I didn’t think anything of it but after a few days I was still in pain so I went to a clinic to have it looked at – that was when the nurse found a lump.”

Kathy was sent for a mammogram that afternoon and the results indicated a presence of cancer in her breast.  She was quickly connected with a surgeon to have her breast removed and shortly thereafter began receiving chemotherapy four times a week at the Durham Regional Cancer Center.

“It’s a very manageable commute for me to the centre for my treatment and all of the clinical staff – as well as the Auxiliary volunteers - have been extremely informative, attentive and positive throughout my care.”

Kathy’s family and friends have been another great support system throughout this experience. Last fall, several family and friends participated in a local cancer fundraising run in her honour.

“It’s been great to have my husband, children and grandchildren so involved in my recovery,” she said. “I haven’t let this define me; I have a positive health care outlook and I’m ready for the next chapter.”

Kathy will be finished with her treatment in late March and is looking forward to hosting some family dinners and celebrating with a nice glass of wine!

Seeing the Value in the Patient Experience


IreneAt Lakeridge Health, we are constantly working to ensure that people accessing our services have the best possible patient experience – and we believe that effective communication and expectation setting is a large part of that experience.

After a consultation with her eye doctor last summer revealed she had cataracts, Arlene Lowe was connected with Dr. Manjula Misra at Lakeridge Health’s Bowmanville Hospital to discuss the procedure.

“During my pre-consultation Dr. Misra explained everything to me in great detail, she was patient and didn’t dismiss any of my questions.”

Arlene, a Northumberland County resident was happy to travel an hour to the Bowmanville Hospital, located near her daughter Kimberly’s house, to have her cataracts removed.

“I arrived at the hospital at quarter to seven in the morning. I was feeling a little nervous about my procedure but the technicians and nurses were extremely understanding and immediately put me at ease,” she said. “They knew I was a diabetic so they also made sure to check my blood sugar levels. Then I climbed on a cot, was administered some anesthetic and next thing I know we were driving home just over an hour later!”

The Eye Care Centre at the Bowmanville Hospital is a regional centre of excellence bringing together a highly specialized health care team to help people regain clearer vision.

Arlene says her care team made her feel at ease and informed for the duration of her care. She has since made a full recovery. “I can even drive at night now, which is a nice treat after 15 years of wearing glasses 24/7!”

Committed to Exceptional Patient Experiences

Patient StoriesAt Lakeridge Health, we recognize that much of the time spent in health care facilities can be challenging and that is why we do our best to create a positive patient experience. 

Take Tom Geary, an Ajax-Pickering resident who recently received hip replacement surgery. “I’ve only received treatment in a hospital once before this operation, which was when I was four years old, but that was 70 years ago so I can’t say I knew what to expect going in for this surgery.” 

Tom was admitted midday on February 6, 2018, and was taken from registration promptly through to his procedure. 

Tom spent the next 48 hours in recovery and was even the subject of a ‘teach-in’ with nursing students from the local college. “All six women gathered around my bed attentively to watch my dressing being changed, while the lead teaching nurse walked them through each step of the process. It was an interesting experience to see these future health care professionals being educated.”

Tom appreciated having clinical staff by his side throughout his health care experience. “My care during recovery was exceptional and I was impressed by the dedication of my nurses – Caryn and Chantelle. Even in the middle of the night, they were there to check my vitals and make sure nothing went wrong.” For now, Tom is focused on making a full recovery by taking some time to catch up on his reading and starting his physiotherapy rehabilitation.

Life After Breast Cancer


Life after breast cancerAt Lakeridge Health, we recognize that much of the time spent in health care facilities can be challenging, which is why we do our best to create a positive patient experience.

In November 2016, just after her 80th birthday, Pickering resident, Joyce Perrin, was diagnosed with breast cancer and started treatment. Joyce said, “It definitely wasn’t the type of birthday gift I had been hoping for.”

Joyce, who had a long and distinguished career in the health care industry, persevered through treatment and took cancer on directly! She credits a large part of her recovery to the continuity and quality of care she received during her treatment across the Lakeridge Health system.

“My surgeon talked with the oncologist before the surgery to ensure that everyone was on the same page,” says Joyce. “The integrated approach between my care team at Ajax Pickering Hospital, who performed the surgery, and my care team at the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre, where I received treatment, was seamless. The high degree of respect between nurses and doctors, the exceptional access to information and the positive and empathetic nature of clinicians, staff and volunteers have made all the difference.”

Joyce also attributes much of her recovery success to the support of the staff who helped create a positive experience and community services, like the Hearth Place Cancer Support Centre. “Hearth Place is an excellent community program, they run several integrated education sessions on site with staff from the cancer centre and provide the ongoing emotional support required after treatment.”

Joyce is now in recovery and moving toward living life to the fullest, She has even taken on a leadership role as an Ambassador for After Breast Cancer, another community organization that played a role in her recovery, and was recently featured as one of the foundation’s charity calendar girls!

 Committed to Exceptional Patient Experiences

Committed to Exceptional Patient Experiences At Lakeridge Health, we recognize that time spent in health care facilities can be unexpected, and challenging, and we are constantly working to ensure better health outcomes in our communities, and the Durham Region at large.

Take Andrea Traynor,,a Bowmanville resident who had an unfortunate run in with a zipline in Mont Tremblant last summer. Andrea returned home to Lakeridge Health’s Bowmanville Hospital where they confirmed she had a fracture, but that was only the beginning.

Three weeks after her ankle fracture, Andrea was beginning to have severe back pain. She returned to the Bowmanville Hospital Emergency Department, explained her symptoms to the triage nurse, and mentioned she broke her ankle a few weeks before.

"In that moment, the triage nurse dropped her post, and wheeled me in," says Andrea, "She told me, ‘I think you have a blood clot in your lung’."

With time working against Andrea, the doctor confirmed the triage nurse’s assessment – she had a blood clot, caused by her ankle fracture. She was quickly admitted to Bowmanville Hospital and administered blood thinners immediately.

"The doctor told me it was a pulmonary embolism, which is something you definitely don’t want to Google," says Andrea, "It was at that moment I realized the gravity of the situation."

Andrea says her care team made what was the most terrifying experience of her life, manageable. She has since made a full recovery.

"In a small town, you may wonder what the care will be like, but the Bowmanville hospital provided top notch care and service," says Andrea, "I truly believe the team that day saved my life." 

Paul Puky’s Dialysis Journey 


Paul Puky's Dialysis JourneyAt Lakeridge Health, we recognize that much of the time spent in health care facilities can be challenging and that’s why we do our best to create a positive patient experience. For many of our patients, like Paul Puky, accessing and receiving health care is a consistent part of their daily schedule so it’s important that we get it right!

Paul is an adventuresome 92-year-old dialysis patient (some of his hobbies include ice skating and stamp collecting!) who was diagnosed 20 years ago by Dr. George Buldo, a nephrologist at the Whitby Hospital. Since his initial diagnosis, Paul has been undergoing dialysis treatment for several hours a day three times a week. His nurse Joy, who has been treating Paul for the past 15 years, notes enthusiastically, “Paul is extremely well disciplined and regimented, he even asks if there’s room for improvement on his blood work! All of his support team think he’s an exemplary patient!”

Paul and his doctors both had a lot invested in their patient relationship, and when moved Paul moved out of the Whitby community, his treatment location shifted to his new hometown of Peterborough, but with the continued support of his Whitby doctors. Lakeridge Health’s regional health care model supported the patient’s preferences while ensuring continuity of care. Even now, 20 years later, Paul remembers his first visit and diagnosis!

One Step at a Time

One Step at a TimeChronic pain, reduced mobility and the reliance on crutches and a walker led to a full knee replacement for Susan MacArthur. She was supposed to be discharged three days after her surgery at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa but after suffering complications, her stay was extended.

"The nursing staff told me I would be starting rehab. I said 'what's rehab?' I had never been to rehab in my life," said Susan.

For nearly six weeks, the Whitby resident regularly worked on strengthening her leg and upper body while temporarily using a wheelchair. Her training was slow and steady- Physiotherapist, Lisa Henry and Occupational Therapist, Eunice Yoshiki helped improve Susan's strength and flexibility, along with her mood and confidence.

"They were amazing, helping me deal with any anxiety I had throughout this process. They praised me for every milestone I hit, big or small," adds Susan.

During her time in the rehabilitation unit in Oshawa, Susan had the chance to speak with others who were experiencing similar challenges and felt a sense of family among other patients and staff. Their positivity and determination gave her an extra push to work even harder to re-learn how to stand and walk. She's now looking forward to running errands and walking her dog on her own.

"The care was amazing. If I ever need to return for treatment, I'd come back to rehab in a minute!" 

Vivian Arana's Story

Vivian Arana's StoryVivian Arana learned early that her pregnancy was going to be challenging.

"I was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis, preeclampsia and was borderline eclamptic," says Vivian.

She was admitted to Mount Sinai toward the end of her pregnancy and required an emergency C-section giving birth to her daughter Emma at just 30 weeks. Vivian was discharged from Mount Sinai shortly after, but Emma still required care in their Neonatal Intensive Care unit (NICU).

"It was important for me to be there for Emma, but I didn't live close to Mount Sinai," says Vivian. "I was still recovering myself from having a C-section and wasn't feeling 100% yet. Relying on other people to take me from Ajax to Toronto was an absolute nightmare." 

After looking into preemie care options close to home, Vivian advocated to have Emma transferred to Lakeridge Health's Ajax-Pickering Hospital as soon as it was safe to do so. 

Emma was in the NICU at Ajax-Pickering Hospital for nearly a month as the hospital team there worked to get her to a healthy body weight. It meant Vivian could stay overnight at the hospital as often as she liked and her 11-year-old daughter Bella could visit too. 

"Watching her baby sister in the hospital was especially hard for Bella, but the nurses cared for her too," remembers Vivian. "One nurse even gave Bella a special journal to help her cope with her feelings." 

Emma was recently discharged from Ajax-Pickering hospital and has just passed her original due date. "She's still tiny, but she is growing well," says Vivian. 

Alan Ely's Story

Alan Ely's StoryTwice a week, Alan Ely and his wife Marsha depart from their home in Beaverton for Oshawa where Alan spends the better part of his afternoon in physiotherapy after having knee replacement surgery six weeks ago.

"We pack a lunch and we make a kind of picnic out of it. It's become a nice time for us together," says Alan.

With the temporary closure of Port Perry Hospital, Alan's physiotherapy now takes place at Lakeridge Health's Ambulatory Rehabilitation Centre at 58 Rossland Road. It's added another 30 minutes to his commute but Alan says he doesn't mind at all because he still gets to see Danielle Perrault, the same physiotherapist he has been working closely with in Port Perry.

"Being able to still see Danielle is critical for me," he explains. "Danielle understands what I'm going through and she's someone whom I trust to tell me what I need to do to get better."

In fact, it was Danielle who called him the morning after the rooftop fire at Port Perry Hospital to reassure him his physiotherapy could continue uninterrupted at another Lakeridge Health location. Danielle says, like Alan, the majority of her patients have chosen to resume their physiotherapy in Oshawa even with the extra travel.

"We have a good rapport with our patients," she adds. "We get a lot of returning people and many of them come from the more rural areas like Beaverton, Cannington and Sunderland. Patients are often referred to us following post-surgery to continue therapy, critical to ensuring a successful recovery."

One of two physiotherapists at Port Perry Hospital, Danielle has worked at every Lakeridge Health location except Rossland Road, until now. Being able to bring her Port Perry patients with her to Oshawa has helped Danielle adapt to different surroundings too.

"I don't feel like I'm so displaced," she adds. "I'm able to tell my patients, 'This is even new for me too.'"

Help For Hunter

Help for HunterA persistent cough, vomiting and ongoing respiratory issues lingered for weeks for six month-old Hunter. After two different hospital visits and little improvement, Hunter's mother, Kora Kozai decided to drive from their Scarborough home to the Emergency Department at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa.

"The doctor ordered blood work and a chest X-ray and the results were given to us almost immediately," said Kozai. "It was a seamless, easy procedure. My son was diagnosed with pneumonia, given a prescription for antibiotics and a follow-up appointment with a paediatrician in Oshawa the next day."

The stay-at-home mom of two young boys says she made the decision to make the 45-minute late-night drive to the Oshawa Hospital after hearing positive reviews about its Emergency Department and in particular, the Paediatric Acute Referral Clinic, which gives families quick access to a paediatrician.

"I would choose Lakeridge Health in Oshawa in a heartbeat, every time because of the nurses and doctors who work there. Even at three in the morning, they're happy, crisp, and ready to help," says Kozai. "I don't feel like I'm just a number there. I feel like I'm a real person who people care about."

The Port Perry Experience

The Port Perry ExperienceDelivering close to home was something Alissa Reid had hoped for. She was nearing the end of her first pregnancy and the short drive from her house to Port Perry Hospital allowed for better peace of mind. But on August 25th, the temporary closure of Port Perry Hospital quickly changed her birth plan.

"I was about 37 weeks along and I was completely shocked when I heard about the fire at Port Perry Hospital," says Reid. "I didn't plan on going anywhere else."

Nearly three weeks later, Baby Violet was born around 3:30 a.m. at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa by a Port Perry physician, one of many new processes that have been developed for patients and families affected by the Port Perry Hospital fire.

All services at Port Perry Hospital are now being delivered at other locations within our hospital system while Lakeridge Health works to restore and reopen the Port Perry Hospital.

"We understand that some of our new moms from Port Perry are disappointed that they have to change their birth plans," says Julie Rojas, Patient Care Manager of the Birthing Suite in Port Perry and Oshawa. "We've worked with our physician partners at Medical Associates in Port Perry to ensure that a Port Perry physician is on-call 24 hours a day to care for labouring Port Perry moms in Oshawa."

"We want patients and families from Port Perry to receive the best experience possible," she adds.

Approximately 30 babies are delivered each month at Port Perry Hospital. With the on-call rotation, Port Perry moms may not be paired with the same Port Perry physician who provided their prenatal care.

"You're still getting the Port Perry experience and other than relocating, it's been wonderful," says Alissa.

 Home in Time for Easter

Laverne HarveyIf Laverne Harvey looks happy, it's because he's going home tomorrow - just in time to spend Easter Sunday with his family.

Laverne has been in hospital since Oct. 15 being treated for a severe infection to his artificial hip. He and his wife Lois joke that they've come to know every corner of Lakeridge Health, with him having been treated in Emergency, Critical Care, Surgery, Dialysis and Rehabilitation.

"The care we've received has just been great. We've been very well looked after," said Laverne. He Credits his care team with helping him "learn how to do everything again" especially his physiotherapist Lisa Henry, Rehabilitation Assistants Denise McMillan and Michelle Theriault and Occupational Therapist Eunice Yoshiki.