Inspirational Stories QCH Foundation ottawa

Small Family Recovers from Big Medical Scare

“Queensway Carleton Hospital saved my husband’s life,” says Barrhaven resident Wendy Small of the near-death experience that started one day this past April when her husband woke up with an incredibly stiff neck and shoulder.

What happened next was a series of efforts to get to the bottom of Dale Small’s mysterious pain, including physiotherapy, over-the-counter pain medications and, finally, a trip to QCH on April 16 for medical tests. At the hospital, Dale underwent an ultrasound to rule out an infection of the bone and was properly treated for his pain. Emergency medicine physician Dr. Gina Manca also drew a blood culture that was sent to the lab for analysis within 48 hours.

Dale was eventually discharged from QCH with strict instructions to return should his symptoms worsen. They did, to the point where he developed a fever and became very weak. “He was going downhill very quickly,” said Wendy, who, as a long-time nurse at QCH, knew something was seriously wrong with her husband of 37 years.

“So, I said to him, ‘You’re going back to the hospital’. Just then, the phone rang, and it was a nurse from QCH saying to bring Dale back. They had just got the result of the blood culture. He was growing a Strep A bacterial infection.”

At the hospital, Dr. Graham Mazereeuw, an emergency medicine physician, could see that the right side of Dale’s neck was starting to look red and swollen. A CatScan revealed the infection was spreading and headed toward the chest wall. Dale was going into septic shock and would need surgery.

In the operating room, doctors and staff were able to safely remove the lethal Strep A bacteria before it spread any further. After it was all over, otolaryngology surgeon Dr. Winsion Chow, gave the family a much-appreciated update. “He had this calm demeanor – he was just what our family needed at that time,” said Wendy.

Post-surgery, Dale was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and intubated. He was later transferred to QCH’s Myers Automotive Acute Care of the Elderly Unit (ACE Unit), where he remained until his discharge on April 28th. The retired public servant made it home for his 68th birthday, two days later.

Dale is now back to doing many of his regular activities, including gardening and cutting the grass. “It was quite the experience, that’s for sure,” said the father of two and grandfather of five. “I wouldn’t want to go through it again. I’m glad I’m alive and here.”

The Smalls recognize the role that QCH’s state-of-the-art technology played in saving Dale’s life. The hospital has made it a priority to upgrade its surgical suites with the latest smart software and hardware.

Its advanced technology allows physicians to see four-times more information on their surgical screens and sixty-four times more colour than high-definition (HD). The enhanced visibility on the screens leads to a crisper and sharper picture, allowing physicians to make even more accurate diagnoses and more precise incisions. This, of course, leads to better health outcomes for patients.

Wendy said her family’s first-hand experience at QCH has made her appreciate the hospital more than ever.

“When I go into work, I hold my head high. I’m proud to be part of this organization.”

In honour of the incredible care that Dale received at QCH, the Small family chose to recognize their care team in a meaningful way by making a donation to QCH Foundation and honouring each of them as a Champion of Care.