Leanne Jones, a Toronto Police Services (TPS) officer for the last 23 years, is familiar with the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s on a professional level. But after an injury she suffered on the job, Leanne now knows what it’s like to be a patient.
“Because of the nature of police work, you end up at hospitals all the time. I worked at 11 Division for over 10 years, the division that encompasses St. Joe’s, so this is the main hospital (ER) we’d come to,” said Leanne. “I got to know the place pretty well, pretty quickly. I knew a lot of the staff by name and they would recognize me right away.”
“I always knew what great staff you had, but being a patient is different,” she adds.
Now a Sergeant with the TPS Mounted Unit, Leanne undergoes regular training on how to be a police officer on horse back and general equitation skills needed for the job. It was during training that Leanne fell off her horse, Timmis, and ended up requiring emergency care at St. Joe’s.
“Part of the training includes jumping the horses. Our horses are fairly athletic but we’re not doing exceptionally high jumps. These are exercises we’ve done before,” Leanne said.
For some reason, Timmis was unable to make the jump and he fell to his knees then somersaulted head first, sending Leanne crashing onto the ground. “I don’t remember the fall. I just remember waking up in the dirt with everyone looking at me. I remember thinking I don’t feel too bad, but I had a pretty good idea that my arm was broken. It just didn’t feel right,” said Leanne.
Leanne was quickly transported to St. Joe’s Emergency Department. After an assessment and x-ray, it was confirmed that she had a broken arm. The team worked quickly to reduce the fracture and get a cast on her. Leanne was discharged from the ER after seven hours.
Leanne was thrilled with the care she received in the Emergency Department. But what impressed her most was the next day follow up she received in the Health Centre’s Fracture Clinic.
“Seeing Dr. Kliman, the orthopaedic surgeon, the next day and having that service so quickly was great. To hear him say that the ER doctors did the reduction perfectly and that my arm would heal well if I follow his instructions, was great too.”
Leanne also credits her successful recovery to being linked with several other health professionals at St. Joe’s – Florinda Coelho, her physiotherapist and Daniel Kim, her occupational therapist.
“Florinda and Dan got me started with my rehabilitation exercises and my splint to help me with my range of motion. When I got my cast off, my hand and wrist weren’t working well at all. So they deserve a lot of credit for my recovery,” said Leanne.
Leanne was so impressed with the care she received at St. Joe’s that she wrote a letter to our President and CEO to share her experience.
“You have to recognize a job well done when it’s done. I know I appreciate it when people tell me that I’ve done something well. The next day, when I was a bit more clear-headed I realized that this was really traumatic for me. I’d never broken a bone before and my arm was broken in a couple of places. The staff did a great job. Everything went as well as it probably could have and I just wanted to say that I appreciated that.”
Annie Bechan came to St. Joseph’s Health Centre on February 14, 2011. Although having a bunion removed from her right foot was not the way she wanted to spend Valentine’s Day, it was worth it in the end because the care she received has allowed Annie walk pain free.
“Apart from being a doctor, Dr. Kliman is an extremely caring and remarkable individual. No matter how many questions I had regarding my surgery, he was always patient when answering them and willing to advise me on how to take care of it. Dr. Kliman’s care for me was outstanding,” said Annie.
Throughout the surgical process, the staff were caring, very considerate and obviously working in a profession they enjoyed she said. During her time in recovery, Annie’s interaction with one nurse in particular created a lasting impression. “As I was getting dressed the nurse noticed I was having some difficulties and came to my assistance. She gave me some medication to help with my nausea and proceeded to assist with my dressing. She even put on my shoes,” said Annie. “I believe she went above and beyond her call of duty to assist me while in her care and I am truly grateful.”
After Annie’s surgery, she continued to come for follow up appointments with Dr. Kliman. “I was very impressed that he took the time to re-bandage my foot, since that was a task often done by a nurse at other hospitals,” she said. “In my opinion, Dr. Kliman is one of the best surgeons and I was fortunate to have him operate on me.”
Following her surgery, there was a period of time where Annie needed to use crutches. She said whenever she went for her follow up appointments, St. Joe’s volunteers would always be there assisting her into a wheelchair. “They saw I had crutches and I never had to request assistance. That was extremely impressive.”
Annie’s fond experience with the staff and volunteers at the Health Centre led her to recommend St. Joe’s and Dr. Kliman to others, including her sister. “Every moment in the hospital, from registration to my appointment with the doctor, has impressed me. Everyone was so patient and always had smiles on their faces,” she said. “As a result of the care I’ve received at St. Joe’s, I’ve decided I want to become a volunteer when I retire.”
10-year-old Cameron Erwin loves to play hockey and hang out with his friends.
And just like most people, he was scared when he knew he had to come to the hospital.
After participating in a week-long hockey training camp, Cameron started to feel unwell and had problems with his breathing.
He had come home that night and just wasn’t himself, recalls mom Averill Clarke. “I checked on him and I quickly recognized the signs, being a nurse myself, that he needed more than a few cuddles and medicine from me and my husband. So we decided to bring him to St. Joe’s Emergency Department.”
As a nurse, Averill knew what Cameron could expect during his visit to the Emergency Department and tried to prepare him as best as possible.
“I was mostly scared about getting a needle,” said Cameron.
But Cameron’s fears about coming to the hospital and getting a needle were quickly forgotten once the Emergency Department team began to treat him and he started to feel better.
“I felt confident that when my son needed medical attention - and from past experiences in the Just for Kids Clinic at St. Joseph’s - that this was the most appropriate place for me to take him,” said Averill. “From the moment we walked in the ER doors to our first point of contact at the Triage desk, we were treated kindly, professionally and with great care. All of the staff that we were in contact with – the triage nurse and clerks, doctors, paediatric nurses, radiology staff and patient service aides - were lovely”.
The entire family is thankful for the care Cameron received at St. Joe’s that day.
“Cameron’s words once he began to feel better after a Ventolin mask were, ‘I like this place’,” said Averill. “And I think, coming from a 10-year-old who has not been feeling his best, that his words sum it all up. His experience in the ER, being helped to feel better, was a good one.”
Arlynne Poitras’ first trip to St. Joseph’s Emergency Department was a lot quicker than she had anticipated.
During a trail race, Arlynne tripped on a root of a tree and fell hard on her left hand. The impact of the fall was so harsh that it pushed her hand backwards to the point that the tops of her fingers touched her wrist, severely pulling the ligaments.
“I was in quite a state of shock at what just happened, but I managed to finish the race and then received a bit of first aid afterwards,” she recalls.
Later that evening, as her hand continued to swell, she started to really question if she had in fact broken it. Arlynne found herself debating on whether or not to head to St. Joe’s Emergency Department to have it checked out.
Not wanting to make an unnecessary trip to the ED, she called Telehealth for advice.
“I explained what happened and told the nurse that I wasn’t sure if I should go the hospital because I didn’t want to clog up the Emergency Room. She told me that I definitely should go, and there would always be a spot for me,” said Arlynne.
And she was relieved at her decision to come to St. Joe’s – not only because found out that thankfully her hand wasn’t broken, but also because her visit really changed her perception about emergency room care.
“You always anticipate, especially when you have a non-critical injury, that you’ll be waiting for eight hours or more hours in the ER, which is always the perception of emergency rooms,” said Arlynne.
Arlynne really loved the idea of what she called our “express line” (the ED Fast Track area) where patients with minor injuries can be seen separately from patients who have more serious conditions. Arlynne’s stay in the ER was about 2 hours before she was discharged home.
“This is a huge bonus. If think you have to sit there and wait all night, it’s a disincentive for people to come in to get the care they need. So having that and not having to wait a crazy amount of time is something I really liked,” Arlynne said.
“I noticed that the doctors I saw paid a lot of attention to education. I felt like the education piece was very valuable for me and just made me feel like the people looking after me really cared.”
Overall, Arlynne feels that her experience at St. Joe’s was a positive one from start to finish. “I really appreciated all the care and service I received. I don’t think what they do (in the Emergency Department) is easy and they probably get more complaints than anything,” said Arlynne. “The energy in that place is very good. Thank you to the staff in the Emergency Department for caring about what you do because it shows in the way everyone conducts themselves.”
Well cared for, helpful and outstanding. This is how Christopher Dix describes his experience at St. Joe’s, when he came in for day surgery last October. This was the first time he had surgery at the hospital.
Like most patients, Christopher was nervous and anxious in the weeks and days leading up to his hydrocele procedure. But he recalls that his experience at St. Joe’s from start to finish was a positive one.
“I was referred to Dr. MacLean through my family physician, Dr. Valadka. Dr. MacLean was very friendly. He drew diagrams (of the procedure) to help me better understand. He walked me through my options and gave me the choice of going through with the procedure or not. I decided to have this procedure and as the day grew nearer, I became very nervous,” said Christopher.
“When I arrived that day for my surgery, I needed to ask for directions on where I needed to go. Every person that I asked for directions was very friendly, very helpful. They didn’t make me feel like I was a bother.”
As he waited for his procedure to begin, Christopher could feel his nervousness and anxiety start to rise.
“The anesthesiologist came out to introduce herself. She was very kind and soft spoken and told me that we’d be getting started in a few minutes. And that really stood out to me because my own father was an anesthesiologist at Sick Kids for 37 years,” said Christopher.
Shortly after meeting the anesthesiologist, Christopher said one of the operating room nurses also came out to speak with him and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you.”
Those eight simple words made him instantly start to relax.
“She assisted me onto the operating room table and covered me with warm blankets, like bed sheets. My feelings of nervousness ebbed away.”
The way he was treated that day made his surgical experience even better than he anticipated. His appreciation for the respect and dignity he was shown by everyone that day really mattered to him. “The work they do and way everyone treated me made all the difference,” said Christopher.
Since the age of 12, Michael had been using drugs.
Michael is now 30 and feels lucky and fortunate to have been able to receive the care and guidance of St. Joseph’s Health Centre’s Glendale House to help him recover from his substance abuse.
“St. Joe’s saved my life. I had no idea that places like Glendale House existed. I had heard of rehab and A.A. but I guess I never really thought I had a problem. I mean, I knew I had a problem but I never had the perspective that I slowly gained through the recovery groups,” said Michael.
Michael enrolled himself in Glendale House’s three week day program and says it has had a profound effect on his life personally, spiritually and intellectually. “It got to a point where I knew I was ruining my life. The pain got to be too much and no matter how many drugs I put into my body, nothing would take the pain away so I waved a white flag,” he said.
A friend, who was also an addictions councillor at a rehab centre, had suggested Michael call the Glendale House Withdrawal Management Services program at St. Joe’s. “I was ready to accept help,” said Michael. “It was easier being around people that know what you’re going through and being able to share openly and honestly with the group. I was never worried about what people were going to think. Nobody was going to judge me.”
During the group sessions, Michael said he found what he had been looking for all his life – learning different ways of dealing with the world and managing pain without abusing drugs. “It is often said that in order to recover from substance abuse, you need a spiritual awakening, which leads to relieving the obsession of the mind and the physical cravings,” he said. “I had that awakening and it was really awesome.”
“For a lack of better words, there’s something magical that happens in those rooms if you’re ready,” said Michael. “It was the most liberating and incredible experience to give up the battle and obsession of using. This journey has been one of my greatest accomplishments.”
Michael continues to go to meetings weekly and is clean and sober. “I have been clean for nine months but that’s scratching the surface compared to the 17 years I was using and to those who have been clean for years and decades. I have small flashes of what it’s like to be a normal person without the need for anything and that’s what keeps me going,” he said.
For the families of addicts and alcoholics, there are many services and groups that can help repair relationships by offering support in areas that non addicts don’t understand, says Michael. “It is said that addiction, alcoholism and mental health are family diseases and everyone is affected in some way. It (attending services and groups) is a great way for the whole family to heal and create a new level of understanding and progress in these relationships,” he said.