A CLEAR PICTURE
“When you buy a new TV and turn it on, the first thing you say is ‘Wow, that’s so much clearer’,” says Dr. Joel Weaver. “I’m looking forward to saying that in the operating room too.”
Dr. Weaver is one of the 50 surgeons at Queensway Carleton Hospital . They perform more than 25,000 operations each year. He has practiced general surgery at Queensway Carleton Hospital for more than a decade and is just finishing a six-year term as Chief of Surgery.
While the physical space in the OR is big and bright, Dr. Weaver says the equipment needs updating. In fact, a lot of it hasn’t changed since the OR doubled in size back in 2007 – which is unfortunately very common in hospitals. “Most people change their computers and technology at home much more often,” he notes. “It’s all safe. But it’s definitely time.”
As a general surgeon, Dr. Weaver says the introduction of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery has made the biggest impact on his practice. “It has changed the landscape for all surgeons and, more importantly, for our patients. We can get them out of the hospital quicker, with smaller incisions, less pain and faster recoveries,” he says.
Dr. Weaver says the new ORs will have a similar impact. In fact, the new equipment and fixtures will be used by every surgeon who works at Queensway Carleton Hospital.
“It’s the new standard of care,” he says. “Let’s look at a cancer patient who needs to have surgery followed by chemotherapy. Before laparoscopic surgery, the patient needed to wait longer after surgery to recover and recoup before chemotherapy could start. With this new technology, we can speed up the treatment process. A post-surgery hospital stay of 7 days is now 3 or 4, meaning the patient can go home sooner, to recover more comfortably surrounded by family.”
The renovated ORs will also offer a more efficient design, with technology close at hand. Surgical teams will have the better-resolution cameras which Dr. Weaver says will be a great improvement. “Take a splenectomy for example,” he explains. “There can be a lot of bleeding and refracted light darkens the environment. With better lighting and monitors, I have a better threshold to work in and can avoid having to potentially move from a laparoscopic procedure to a more-invasive operation.”
And Dr. Weaver says Queensway Carleton Hospital’s focus on joint replacement surgery means these improvements are more important than ever. As a regional leader and a partner in the Champlain Regional Hip and Knee Replacement Program, Queensway Carleton Hospital does more joint surgeries than all the other hospitals in the region combined. “It’s a good news story and we want to ensure we have the best possible equipment and environment to serve these patients,” he says.
Investments in equipment and innovation will benefit every patient who comes through the OR doors, from simple diagnostic procedures to life-saving emergency care. “It’s unbelievable how the surgery program has ballooned in size,” sums up Dr. Weaver. “We used to be a quiet, community hospital and now we are serving a much larger population with more services and more surgical procedures. We are no longer a sleepy little place. It’s definitely an exciting time at Queensway Carleton Hospital.”
THE POWER OF TEAMWORK
When he started working in the Operating Room at Queensway Carleton Hospital, Steve Periard knew he’d found his home. “The OR and I just clicked,” he remembers. “In the OR, we strive for order and consistency. And I love that.”
Steve also loves a good team. He is both a hockey coach and player and sees the benefits of everyone working together for one goal. “It’s definitely a team environment in the OR,” he says. “You need everyone pulling the same way to make sure everything goes well.”
As Queensway Carleton Hospital’s Operating Room Nurse Manager, Steve leads a team of more than 75 specially trained staff. He says they are excited about the changes ahead. The revitalization of the 11 surgical suites will provide an opportunity to do more for patients with new equipment, updated tools and even better lighting.
“We have some exceptional physicians at Queensway Carleton Hospital who have used high-end equipment in other places. Now, they want that here. It may not sound glamourous but when a surgeon has proper lighting and visualization, he or she can see things much more clearly. That makes everyone’s job easier.”
Right now, Steve says that nurses are sometimes forced to try and make quick fixes on the fly. It could involve adjusting the monitor or wiggling a cord to solve the issue. He likens it to the rabbit ears on old televisions. “You constantly tweaked them to get the best picture image. Soon we will have the best high definition view in the OR!”
But it’s not just about the bells and whistles. Steve says the refurbished ORs will also help support better outcomes for patients. “Most technology has a shelf life of about 18 months and much of Queensway Carleton Hospital’s operating room equipment is 7 or 8 years old,” he explains is a familiar experience for most hospitals in Canada. “Health care equipment is expensive, but we must balance those fiscal responsibilities with the needs of our patients. No one is at risk now, but we know we can provide a better experience and we definitely want to do that.”
Steve says he has seen a lot of changes in the OR since 2007. At that time, the number of suites expanded from 4 to 8, and then to 11. “It feels like a community here. We take pride in the services we provide and the refurbished ORs will only strengthen that,” he says.
At the end of the day, it comes back to consistency and teamwork: “It’s all about how we can provide exceptional care to our patients. It’s going to be awesome and we can’t thank the donors enough for their support. Every single patient will benefit.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING BACK
Since she was a young girl, Rishika Aggarwal has been taught the importance of giving back. Her parents have set the example, encouraging Rishika and her two sisters to help others around them and support their community. That commitment extends to local health care and Queensway Carleton Hospital as well.
Born and raised in Barrhaven, Rishika’s connections to Queensway Carleton Hospital are many. Early on in high school, she decided she might want to be a doctor, so she shadowed Dr. Andrew Falconer for a day in Emergency. “It was a great way to understand the hospital’s operations from a physician’s point of view and better appreciate their role in providing world-class care to patients every day,” she recalls. “I enjoyed my time with Dr. Falconer, who was warm and welcoming.”
Her second encounter with Queensway Carleton Hospital was in Grade 12 – and not nearly as fun. Rishika had an emergency appendectomy after waking up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. “As soon as I arrived at Queensway Carleton Hospital, I knew I was in good hands. The staff treated my mother and I with the highest levels of professionalism and care and made sure to address every concern. It made all the difference during a very stressful time for the both of us. They were compassionate.”
The procedure was done laparoscopically, with less pain and faster recovery time.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is that Queensway Carleton Hospital has the equipment, resources and people to provide world-class care. You never know when you or a loved one will need it. I was perfectly healthy the day before and never anticipated that I might need an emergency operation. Going into the OR that day was terrifying, but I was comforted by the doctors and nurses who assured me that I was in good hands.”
So Rishika decided to give back by spending her summer volunteering at the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. She says it was a great experience and another opportunity to see the direct impact that fundraising has on each and every patient. “As a patient, I was unaware of the support from hundreds of community members that made the quality of my care at Queensway Carleton Hospital possible. Volunteering at the Foundation opened my eyes to the ripple effect of their generosity on countless lives.”
Rishika realizes that you never know when you will need help. All her touchpoints with Queensway Carleton Hospital have helped her to realize the importance of supporting health care close to home. She says that people are always surprised to learn that the provincial government does not fund the purchase of vital hospital equipment. That is why the Surgical Services campaign is so necessary. “When you are being rolled into the OR, the equipment and monitors in the room should be the least of your concerns. It should be a given that your doctor has the best tools available to do their job. Of course, this is expensive to achieve and it’s why we all need to give what we can to make it possible.”
Now, with a degree from the Ivey School of Business at Western University, Rishika is working in the financial services sector in Toronto. And, as expected, she is already volunteering with a local hospital close to her new home. She says that while the transition between school and adult life can be scary, it is also empowering. “There’s no roadmap anymore, but now life can be exactly what I choose to make it. My experiences at Queensway Carleton Hospital have shown me the importance of giving back and shaped my value system into what it is today. Now, as an adult, I want to contribute to the community in which I live and work. It’s the right thing to do.”
A BAR OF GOLD
Clement Gariepy knows a thing or two about technology. He worked with computers throughout his 31-year career at Canada Post, at one point leading a team that looked after 200 different systems. So, when he was wheeled into the OR at Queensway Carleton Hospital last November, he had a look around.
“To be honest, I remember thinking it was impressive,” Clement says. “There was a lot of equipment and a lot of people looking down at me. It was very comforting. And then I fell asleep and when I woke up, it was all done!”
Clement is one of more than 25,000 patients who visited Queensway Carleton Hospital’s operating suites last year. “To me, it’s a bar of gold. If I ever need anything, that is where I’ll go.” In fact, Clement posted on his Facebook page immediately after his procedure:
“The staff at Queensway Carleton Hospital has been exceptional and we are so lucky to have in Ottawa such a friendly and dedicated team of specialists in such an institution. My thanks to my surgeon and anesthetist who performed miracles on me. Now in Recovery and will be just as good as new within two months.”
To ensure this type of excellent care is always nearby, Clement understands that changes are needed. “At Canada Post, I saw the evolution from punch cards to micro computers. So, I’ve seen it and I can appreciate how important and valuable it is to have the right equipment in the right surroundings.”
The $2.5 million Surgical Service Campaign will revitalize Queensway Carleton Hospital’s surgical suites with new surgical tables, scopes, scanners and operating tools. Each suite will also be retrofitted with overhead booms, lighting, cables and monitors.
Clement says his hernia surgery was a textbook case and went like clockwork. “I did a lot of research and I looked at all the possible complications. Dr. Monahan was the best doctor I could have. I was so impressed with how everything went.”
He was also impressed with the care. “At Queensway Carleton Hospital, they don’t look at patients as part of an assembly line. They pay attention to each one. Every patient is unique with unique needs. It gives you a good feeling to be in a place like that.”
And there’s one more reason why Clement thinks we should all support health care close to home. He has three children, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild and most of them live near the hospital. He says it is comforting to know that these services will be available when required. “We are all getting older and, at some point, we will all need Queensway Carleton Hospital. I’m so grateful it is there.”