Help Us Keep Care Close To Home

When It Comes To A Stroke – Every Minute Counts!

I write to you today, not from behind my desk at Bruce Peninsula Hospitals Foundation, but from my heart, as a daughter and a member of your community. When I learned that our Regional Stroke Centre requires funding for new medical equipment and technology, I felt compelled to help, as this particular type of care really hits home for me. Four years ago, I lost my Dad, Don Dubois, to a catastrophic stroke.
My Dad has been described by many as a character who was larger than life. He often told us that he “was here for a good time, not a long time” – and he’d jokingly remind me that I’d “miss him when he was gone.” Well, as it turned out, he was right, on both counts. After a life brimming with love of family and friends, way more good times than bad, and a fulfilling career as a studio potter, he suddenly and unexpectedly died at 70. And boy, do I miss him.
Through my work at BPH Foundation, I am aware of the data that substantiates our region’s higher than provincial average of Cardiovascular Disease. In fact, each week in Grey Bruce, an average of 1-2 people die of stroke, and 6 people are hospitalized, mostly at the designated Grey Bruce Health Services Stroke Centre in Owen Sound. As I write this, I am brutally reminded that data and statistics aren’t just numbers, these are people who have suffered a life-altering or life-ending health crisis, people like my Dad.
At first, the shock of his death left my family asking why? Later, as we learned more about Dad’s stroke and the devastating impact it would have had on his quality of life, we began to ask what if he had survived?
My Dad would have been given exceptional care, and the best possible stroke survival outcome by a designated team of experts who provide acute stroke services including speech, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, dietitian, social work, nurse practitioner and stroke education, all right here, close to home.
We have come a long way in the coordination of stroke care in this region since my Dad’s stroke in 2018. It starts with community awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke, and the importance of calling 911.
GBHS has initiated a new Code Stroke Protocol which greatly improves stroke outcomes for patients from all parts of Grey and Bruce Counties. Paramedics bypass the closest hospital and bring patients directly to the GBHS – Owen Sound District Stroke Centre. In order to save precious time, the paramedics call ahead to the Emergency Department while enroute to alert the Stroke Team to prepare for the patient’s arrival. A “Code Stroke” page cues the team to begin a highly coordinated process. The diagnostic imaging team prepares the CT scanner; the lab prepares for bloodwork; the physician and nurse practitioner excuse themselves from the work they are doing and proceed to the Emergency Department, and the Emergency Department staff are on alert to support the patient’s arrival.
There is a short window of time for access and effectiveness to clot busting drugs, so every minute counts and every team member contributes when they enact their Code Stroke role.
Today, I ask that you support the GBHS Stroke Centre. The Stroke Team needs new equipment and technology to ensure that they not only save more lives, but improve the quality of those lives too. Specifically, they need a Bladder Scanner which helps stroke survivors retrain their bladders to function normally again. The team also needs new software called RAPID AI (Artificial Intelligence), which interprets and transfers CT images to radiologists in as little as 3 minutes (again, every minute counts). New Holter Monitors are needed too for diagnosing patients experiencing stroke symptoms, and to determine what caused a patient’s stroke. There is very little government funding available for this medical equipment and technology, so it is truly up to the communities in which our hospitals serve, to raise these critical funds, together.
It is my privilege to witness the generosity of our communities who have made such exceptional healthcare happen, right here, close to home. I sincerely thank you for your past support and/or for your consideration of my request for your help today.
P. S. Did you know that Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in Ontario?
April Patry
Executive Director
Bruce Peninsula Hospitals Foundation

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