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Osler’s Road to Recovery

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November 2, 2021 - Patient Story, Stories

Osler's Road to Recovery

WHEN SEVERE STOMACH PAIN BROUGHT NICOLE EL FAR TROIANO TO THE HOSPITAL IN THE MIDST OF THE PANDEMIC, SHE GOT NEWS EVERYBODY DREADS: THE MOTHER OF TWO AND BUSINESS OWNER HAD STAGE 2 COLON CANCER.

“I was in denial. I mean, the word ‘cancer’ has so much associated with it—it’s always the next person, never you,” Nicole says. She was referred to Dr. Roberta Minna, Osler’s Corporate Chief of Surgery, who ultimately performed her surgery.

“The staff in The staff in her office and Dr. Minna were angels to my family—they treated me with respect and compassion,” Nicole says. “And, on top of that, she was in constant communication with my family doctor. That takes real dedication.”

At the height of COVID-19, in order to keep the community safe and treat the most vulnerable patients, many staff members and physicians were redeployed. Although urgent surgeries continued to be performed, our Emergency Departments remained open and programs and services were offered virtually, many non-urgent programs, services and clinics, including elective surgeries, were put on hold.

Osler is now working to gradually and safely resume normal operations, including some elective, non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures. While other hospitals may resume their normal operations relatively quickly, the impact of the pandemic on Osler hospitals is still being felt. Although this impact will continue to be a challenge in the time ahead, Osler is committed to doing all it can to reduce the surgical backlog and meet increased demand on Emergency Departments and outpatient and ambulatory clinics.

Osler’s surgical backlog is among the highest of any health system in Ontario. This backlog, combined with aging surgical equipment, means donor support is urgently needed.

Essential equipment needs include anesthesia gas machines and surgical suite components, audiovisual equipment, overhead lights, monitors and laparoscopes.

Post-surgery bedside equipment is also vital to surgical recovery. Michelle Miller Burnett, Clinical Services Manager, General Surgery and Short Stay at Brampton Civic Hospital, points to a need for stretchers, blood pressure machines and huddle boards used for staff and physician communication.

Donations, she says, “ensure that we have the right equipment, with the right patient at the right time. For example, when we rolled out the vital signs machines, we had to ensure that we had enough so that each nurse had one for every four patients. And if we don’t have that number, that delays treatment. At the bedside, seconds count.”

“With almost a year of no surgical volumes, there’s a significant impact across every surgical specialty,” says Dr. Minna. The trickle-down effect means this impact is felt across other programs and services. Staff vacancies are also an issue, and donors can help by ensuring essential equipment is in place when needed.

“We’d love to open up another number of endoscopy rooms to catch up on the endoscopy backlog that we have, for example,” Dr. Minna says.

Today, Nicole shows no signs of cancer and is grateful for the care she received at Osler. “I’ve had an amazing experience. Dr Minna’s team is…wow. People need to see what these people do in their daily life. They take it so lightly, that they’re a doctor or a surgeon; they don’t realize the extent of what they sacrifice for us as patients, especially during the pandemic.”

For those who are considering donating, Nicole says, “we can’t take the money with us when we die, right? If our money can go to a good cause and help others have the same experience that I was fortunate enough to have, I really think they should dig deep in their pockets and donate as much as they possibly can.”