It’s Our Hospital column 14

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As appearing in the August 11, 2017 County Weekly News.

It’s Our Hospital

By Fran Donaldson, Vice-Chair of PECM Hospital Foundation

It was Sunday morning, and after a busy time with visitors, I woke up worried about when I would find the time to write this article. But first I had to go to the Second Time Around Store, where my friends Bev and Mary were already hard at work in the book department – our version of Sunday service. Soon I was at work too, finding some lovely historical novels to put on the shelf.

Then suddenly, with no warning or incident, I was in excruciating pain, unable to walk for the spasms in my back. With Mary’s help, I managed to sit down while clinging desperately to her hands for strength and stability. Mary helped me stay calm while Bev called for an ambulance, and within a few minutes, help arrived: a stretcher and two angels with bags of gear. They quickly assessed the situation, checked my vital signs, and asked me to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. “Eleven”, I squawked, and soon I was injected with a pain-killer. Then it was off to the hospital while Bev drove out to fetch my husband.

Upon arriving in Emergency, I was settled in a bed and nurses Haley and Denise took over. They got me as comfortable as possible, checked vital signs, and asked a lot of questions related to my medical history, habits and life style. Denise explained that every woman is asked about her living arrangements and whether she feels safe at home. If there is any cause for concern, she can contact the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault team who can arrange for a visit or even come immediately to the Emergency Department. She also asked a memory test question, to detect signs of dementia or delirium, which would be followed up.  Luckily, I passed.

Next I met the doctor on duty, Dr. Koval. After examining and questioning me, he said it sounded like a spontaneous muscle spasm, for which he would prescribe medication, but didn’t think any further examination was needed. Then he changed his mind and ordered X-rays.

So Alex appeared and trundled me off to the x-ray department, where I got a first-hand view of the equipment we paid for a while ago. It looks different from upside-down! Alex, like everyone else I met, was courteous, kind and helpful, and in no time I was back in my bed.

The medication I had received had helped, but I was still in a lot of pain so I was very happy when Denise returned with some pills. Dr. Koval explained that the x-ray showed a compressed disc in my back. Nothing much can be done; it often occurs in old people. There is a chance that it could repair itself, though I’m not betting on that!

All this time, the Emergency Department was busy – not as hectic as it sometimes gets, but with a steady stream of patients while the staff remained unfailingly friendly, helpful, considerate and efficient. I didn’t even mind when someone called me “darling” as we struggled with the bedclothes, because it made me feel that I was in the hands of caring, compassionate people, a dedicated team working together for the benefit of our community. That’s our hospital!

For more information, or to learn about how you can help, please contact Penny or Briar in the Foundation Office at (613) 476-1008 ext. 4503 or 4425 or visit