Our Stories

Read inspiring stories from our patients, supporters and healthcare team. Learn how your donations are advancing healthcare for our community.  

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It may have started with a birthday party to support the endangered manatees in Florida or to free captive dolphins in Mexico. Or perhaps it was when seven-year-old girls were asked to bring a donation instead of a present to a party. Or maybe it was the jewellery sale at the end of the cottage driveway. Funds raised went to a local hospital that had cared for a grandmother with cancer.

Diane Kaminski and Cal Kirkpatrick say their children Marley and Samantha have been a great inspiration for their own generosity. “We had a bit of an epiphany back when the girls suggested these ideas,” explains Diane. “We were teaching them to be philanthropists from a young age.”

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The privilege of saving lives

Since joining the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) team as a General Surgeon in 2009, not a day has gone by that Dr. Andrea Gutauskas has not thought of her father and grandfather, both dedicated general surgeons.

Following in their footsteps started early for Dr. Gutauskas when, as a child, she sometimes watched her father, Dr. José Gutauskas, in QCH operating rooms (ORs), where he served as a General Surgeon from 1977 to 2014. Those childhood memories inspired her and set her on a path from which she could not be swayed.

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I’ll sit with you

The day Sara Cinq-Mars sat in the Psychiatry reception area at Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) was the day she knew things had to change. A loved one was in distress and she was there to help. While waiting, she looked around and didn’t like what she saw. “It was a dingy, sad place,” she remembers. “There was no privacy and people streamed back and forth.”

So Sara got to work: “I didn’t know what I could do, but I knew we would figure something out. I didn’t have the money, but I had the time, and I had my voice.”

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It all starts with a conversation

Neighbours helping neighbours. Friends supporting friends. Community caring for community. That’s the idea behind the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) Foundation’s Cabinet – a committed team of volunteers who are opening doors and changing lives.

Cabinet members have one thing in common – they are community connectors with a passion for making a difference. They believe in giving back to create a better community.

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11-year-old Julia raises $2,600 for QCH Foundation!

During the first month of the pandemic last year, Julia, only 10 years old at the time, watched her parents, owners of Poco Pazzo, donate hot meals to our Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) team. Her parents wanted to support healthcare workers at QCH as they battled COVID-19 on the frontlines.

While Julia was at home during the pandemic, she wondered, ‘how could I make a difference?’

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I Do!

Tess Porter is an educator, a mentor, a life coach, a community volunteer, a philanthropist… and a wedding officiant. So naturally we need to start there. We want to know about Tess’s most memorable wedding ceremony.

“There are a lot of them,” laughs Tess. “It’s always positive and uplifting and I’m honoured to be part of someone’s special day. I want to help make it exceptional for them.”

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QCH ICU physicians honour their team with a special award

March 11, 2021 represents the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the Coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. To make this ominous anniversary meaningful and to recognize some of the incredible work and bravery of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team, the ICU physicians at Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) chose to recognize their entire ICU team, well over 100 staff members, as Champions of Care, and made a donation to QCH Foundation in their honour.

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Here We Go Again

On the morning of September 19, 2020, Alexis packed her family’s car with everything she could think of to keep her two-year old daughter entertained for the day – snacks, toys, colouring books, her iPad – hoping she’d not forgotten some favourite diversion… she was on her way to the two day drive-thru COVID-19 testing pop-up at the Canadian Tire Centre after learning of an outbreak at her daughter’s day care.

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“I Need More Than 255 Characters to Express My Gratitude”

When Mike Leipe went on the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) Foundation website to donate, he ran into a little problem. There just wasn’t enough room on the form to convey his thanks and admiration.  “I wanted to make three donations in honour of three of the nurses who cared for me at QCH,” Mike remembers. “But the wonder of what they do – I just couldn’t express my gratitude in 255 characters. It’s not a Tweet, it’s a tribute. There was so much more I wanted to say!”

So, Mike reached out to the Foundation to ensure his messages were conveyed. And they were.

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“Honouring our Healthcare Champions”

As Bruce lay in bed in Queensway Carleton Hospital’s (QCH) Acute Care of the Elderly (ACE) Unit, after being diagnosed with COVID-19, he worried about his wife, Margaret, at home on her own, recovering from the same virus.

Knowing that Dr. Brendan Quinn, Bruce’s friend and cardiologist, was checking in on Margaret helped put his mind at ease.

“He would call me at the hospital often getting a hold of me while a nurse or doctor was in the room. I would put him on speaker and the medical staff was great in sharing what they knew with him. He was then able to speak with Margaret, update her on my condition and check in on her. The connection with QCH was always with both of us.”

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“It Can Happen to Anyone”

At 29 years old, Khalid Eldali almost died from COVID-19.

“His (Khalid’s) doctor called me one night, telling me to come in and spend some time with my husband – because they didn’t think he’d make it through the night,” says Asmaa Addi, his wife. She spent the entire night holding his hand by his side, doing something no wife ever wants to do: say goodbye to her husband.

Back in October, Asmaa and Khalid never thought they’d be facing this – they’d spent the entire pandemic being as safe as possible: masking, distancing, washing their hands, and staying within their own household.

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“It’s a Team Effort”

Dr. Akshai Iyengar immigrated to Canada from India in 1987 when he was nine years old. He says his family had to work from the bottom up – but they had lots of support along the way. “Like many immigrants, we needed help and we got it from our community,” he remembers. “That is when I learned to give back.”

Dr. Iyengar brought this same philosophy to Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) when he arrived 10 years ago. As Chief and Medical Director of the Department of Critical Care Medicine, he is grateful for the support that QCH Foundation and its donors provide.

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“It was an Easy ‘Yes'”

Ronald Richardson co-founded his first software company for three reasons: for the challenge, the community, and the potential reward. Now, he is bringing the same enthusiasm to his new role as Board Chair of the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) Foundation.

“When I was asked to get involved back in 2015, I was happy to take a look. Both the hospital and the foundation are great organizations – I liked what I saw,” he says.

“To be able to support the Foundation’s mission, reach and impact within the community – it was an easy ‘yes.'”

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A Compassionate Vision

Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH)’s new Chief of Staff is proud to follow in her parents’ footsteps. They were both physicians. They believed in helping the most vulnerable. And as Holocaust survivors, they taught her the importance of being grateful and giving back. “My parents loved Canada and wanted to make it a better place,” says Dr. Kathi Kovacs. “I do too.”

Dr. Kovacs has worked at QCH for more than 20 years, including serving as Chief of Psychiatry for the past three.

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“A Story from a COVID-19 Survivor”

“But I actually beat it. I’m finally home.”

Ralph’s story is a positive one and he eventually returned home to his wife of 30 years, Diane. In an interview with CTV news, Diane embraces him tightly in a hug. The reporter asked him what he missed the most. His answer? Cuddling.

“My weeks on the ventilator were very scary for everybody. My heart flatlined three times. My family had no idea if I was ever going to wake up again.” Ralph explained.

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“I’m Going to Live!”

Jim Sproule remembers the moment he realized it was going to be okay. He had been intubated for the second time and when the tube came out, he couldn’t speak. So, he asked his wife for a pen and paper and wrote the words “I’m going to live”. But his journey was far from over.

In August 2019, Jim was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Queensway Carleton Hospital, diagnosed with necrotizing pancreatitis. Instead of getting better, Jim got worse. “That is until Dr. Askshai Iyengar and his team brought me back from the brink,” says Jim.

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Hear Me Roar!

Clare Beckton doesn’t believe in giving back. She is all about giving forward. And she’s been doing it all her life. Clare says it is the impact that matters: “It’s a very positive feeling when one can influence change, shape a conversation, or provide leadership that makes a difference.”

From a young age, Clare saw the value of this approach. “Growing up in Saskatchewan, we were as poor as church mice,” she says. “But my father was the first one to pitch in and help out a neighbour. He would never take money. In fact, he’d probably invite them home for dinner.”

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“Do you want to keep fighting? ‘Yes'”

Meet Paul Ralph — he spent 192 days at Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH), mostly in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU), fighting to recover his health and return home to his wife, Ria.

It’s November 11, 2019: Paul had spent the day working in the bush by his cottage with his kids, stopping to get fries on the way home — a normal day. That evening, Paul was rushed to the hospital for intense stomach pains.

Paul was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis.

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A long road walked together

After 49 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) without being able to talk, David Baker’s first words were to his wife, Glenda…“I love you.”

Here is their story.

David and Glenda Baker came to Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH), where David was admitted through emergency with a life-threatening illness. After that, David remained at QCH for 76 days.

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“I was terrified”

Stephanie Emard’s husband knew it wasn’t a good sign when he was told his wife was the sickest person in the hospital that day. Perhaps thankfully, Stephanie was too sick to realize it herself.

“It was a typical busy day,” Stephanie remembers. “I was at my son’s hockey game and started having chills and stomach cramps. I never get sick and I just thought it was the stomach flu.”

But two days later, things were much worse, and Stephanie’s husband rushed her to the Queensway Carleton Hospital’s Emergency Department. It was here that her whirlwind experience began.

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Life in one of the city’s busiest Emergency Department

Dr. Bhaskar Gopalan completed a residency placement in the Emergency Department at Queensway Carleton Hospital in 2006 and knew it was the place for him. “I fell in love with it – the culture, the people, and the supportive nursing staff.” And, of course, that surge of adrenalin.

He joined the team a year later and became Chief in 2015. “You have no idea what is coming next,” he explains. “Each patient is unique and needs to be treated that way. I love the complexity of the cases and working with like-minded professionals who value the benefit of teamwork.”

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More than a hospital: Jenn’s survivor story

Breast cancer is not usually top of mind for a young, active woman in her 30’s. But just six years after she lost her mother to breast cancer, Jenn was diagnosed with the same disease.

It was in 2015 that Jenn had her first mammogram and initial needle biopsy, when doctors told her the cancer was at stage 0. Based on her diagnosis, Jenn opted for a double mastectomy procedure.

“It’s a very personal decision, every woman approaches it differently,” Jenn explained.

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Let’s talk mental health
To say that mental health struggles were unexpected for Penny Osborne would be an understatement.

“I think I’m a good example of how mental illness just doesn’t care,” she explains. “And I think people always think that it’s not going to happen to them, that you need to have something intrinsically wrong – but you really don’t.”

 

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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.

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Newsweek names QCH top hospital in region

“I’m privileged to have been able to come to work every day and be the best I can be; and I believe our successes can be attributed to the great team of healthcare professionals I work with every day at QCH.”

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Tackling the challenge of Hallway Medicine

An aging population, and a city population that now tops one million people, were both contributing factors to the busiest year in Queensway Carleton Hospital’s history.

“West-end Ottawa and its surrounding region has a population that is both growing and aging,” said Leah Levesque, interim Chief Executive Officer. “QCH has needed to be agile and responsive to the changing needs of our community.”

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Mental Health Regeneration 

Faced with a significant increase in demand for mental health services, Queensway Carleton Hospital conducted a soul-searching review of its program and made big changes.  The results: higher patient satisfaction, lower readmissions, and better health outcomes.

Here is how it unfolded.

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QCH couple shares their unique experience

“When my wife came to the Emergency Department, staff started thinking of ways to keep us together if she were to be admitted the next day. The next morning, the decision was made in Emergency that she did need admitting. So, they simply moved the man in the bed beside me to the room beside us, and my wife was able to move into the room with me.”

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If you have an inspirational story to share, please contact Katie Barrett at kbarrett@qch.on.ca  or 613-858-5510. We would like to hear your story!

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