Mark Sault stands holding a feather

Indigenous cancer screening champion

Mark Sault is a respected role model in his community, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation near Hagersville.

His leadership roles include promoting free cancer screening services on the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach, which makes regular visits to Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and neighbouring Six Nations of the Grand River.

The Mobile Cancer Screening Coach offers:

• Take-home colon cancer screening test through ColonCancerCheck (for ages 50 to 74, every 2 years)
• Mammograms through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (for ages 50 to 74, every 2 years)
• Pap tests through the Ontario Cervical Screening Program (for ages 21 to 69, every 3 years)
• Support to quit smoking.

Mark knows the importance of early detection, which is why he participates in colon cancer screening by completing the take home test for colon cancer. He knows that if it comes back positive, the next step is a colonoscopy for a closer look. This test is also available through healthcare providers, such as family doctors and nurse practitioners.

“I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone.”

“If you can prevent getting colon cancer, why not take the test?” said Mark, a prostate cancer survivor.

“I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone.”

Colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Screening is important because when caught early enough, 90 per cent of people with colon cancer can be cured. Once colon cancer spreads to other parts of the body it’s much more difficult to treat.

The Mobile Coach is staffed by a team of Regional Cancer Program registered nurses, medical radiation technologists and a booking clerk and features a state-of-the-art digital mammography suite, private exam room and sitting area. The Regional Cancer Program works with partner hospitals across the region including HHS.

Screening tests can catch signs of cancer early when it’s easier to treat. The Regional Cancer Program, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River have a longstanding history of working together to build trust and provide equitable access to services.

For more information on cancer screening and the Mobile Coach, including its schedule, please visit hnhbscreenforlife.ca.




Siblings Alyssa and Doug sitting on the couch

A silver lining for sibling burn patients

What started as a quiet spring evening at home suddenly changed when Alyssa heard screams from the kitchen. She and her brother Doug went running to find a growing grease fire on the stove.

Doug grabbed the flaming pan off the stove and threw it onto the floor. Seconds later, he stifled the flames with baking soda. Unfortunately, those few moments were enough for Alyssa’s pant leg to catch on fire.

By the time emergency services arrived all the flames were out, but the majority of Alyssa’s leg was badly burned, as were Doug’s hands and forearms. Both were taken to the local hospital for emergency treatment, but the severity of the burns required them to be transferred to Hamilton General Hospital (HGH).

Alyssa's burn scars on her leg

“Once I got to the hospital I don’t remember much. I know now that I was in far worse condition than I realized,” says Alyssa. “I do remember the comfort of being with my brother while we were transferred to Hamilton.”

“When the two arrived on the unit they requested to share a room, and we were happy to accommodate,” says Lori Schoonderbeek, charge nurse on HGH’s Burn Trauma Unit. “It’s a painful injury, so we knew it would be a great benefit for them to have each other’s support.”

“We knew it would be a great benefit for them to have each other’s support.”

Once settled, both Alyssa and Doug received regular burn care to see if their injuries would heal on their own. However, the damage to their skin was too extensive and both siblings needed skin grafting surgery.

Burn scars on Doug's forearm

After a few days of bedrest to allow the new skin to heal, they were cleared for physiotherapy to regain mobility. Regular stretching is required, otherwise the skin will tighten. That can limit range of motion, which for Alyssa, would mean difficulty walking. She was determined to recover fully so she could walk down the aisle for her August wedding.

“I had to re-learn to walk and Doug had to re-learn to use his hands. So, he’d help me go for walks around the unit and I’d help him get dressed and eat,” says Alyssa.

“You’d be surprised how simple tasks are difficult when recovering from burns,” says Lori. “Alyssa and Doug had a great recovery though, which I believe is because they had each other.”

“You’d be surprised how simple tasks are difficult when recovering from burns.”

Alyssa’s determination sped her healing and she was discharged after about two and a half weeks at HGH. Despite leaving the hospital, she still had bandages on her leg that required regular changing. After a few weeks, she graduated to wearing special, custom-made compression leggings to help her scars heal. When it was time for her wedding, she was able to walk down the aisle without any evidence of her accident.

Now married, Alyssa was thrilled to reconnect with the staff who cared for her at HGH’s annual Burn Survivors Holiday Party. She hadn’t seen many of them in months and was excited to tell them about her wedding.

Alyssa at the burn party with local firefighters

“The staff on the unit were amazing,” says Alyssa. “It’s not what you’d expect from a hospital stay. They’re like a family and treat you like you’re part of it.”

The annual gathering at Hamilton Health Sciences is a chance for burn survivors to connect with each other and reconnect with the staff who cared for them during their stay.

“It’s so rewarding to see them at the holiday party doing so well.”

“As a nurse we see these patients when they’re at their worst and help them heal,” says Lori. “We rarely get to see our patients when they’re at their best. That’s why it’s so rewarding to see them at the holiday party doing so well, Alyssa included.”

There were lots of smiles and hugs. Despite all these patients have been through this year, the party helps them kick off the holiday season on a positive note.




Comfort items donated for cancer patients

As a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Bryanna King witnesses some of the hardest times in patients’ lives. When she saw tote bags being donated to patients undergoing chemotherapy at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC), she knew she wanted to get involved.

“I see these patients on a regular basis, so it really hit close to home for me,” reflects Bryanna.

Bryanna connected with Caren Funnell who has been donating tote bags to the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation since 2015. She uses the commission she earns through her job at Thirty-One Gifts, to purchase the totes and fill them with different items such as, fuzzy socks, skin care items, nail polish, candy, and hygiene products. “Basically anything that will help make their stay at the JCC more comfortable,” says Bryanna. The girls also accept donations from anyone who would like to donate items and funds to the cause.

The first time Caren donated, she was able to put together 24 tote bags. Now, three years later Caren and her team donate around 150 totes about three times a year. “I feel like I’m in a position where I can help, so I should,” she says.

Hearing from a patient

Over a dozen large tote bags are lined up in a hallway

Christine Lynn Watts, is a patient at JHCC. She received a tote bag when she was in treatment for head and neck cancer. It made a difficult experience a little easier. “It made me feel important, like I was more than just a patient,” she said through tears, reflecting on the gift. “Someone had remembered me and cared enough to give me a tote.” Christine carries the tote—a beautiful purple bag with white stripes—with her to every appointment. She’s incredibly grateful to Caren, Bryanna, and the rest of their team for making this possible.

Caren and her team give the totes to the Supportive Care Department through the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation. They are then distributed to patients based on need.

“Starting treatment is one of the hardest journeys in our patients’ lives, and sometimes they are admitted so quickly that they don’t even have time to go home and pack a bag. Being able to provide patients with a tote not only gives them some comfort items, but it also tells them that someone is thinking about them and supporting them through this challenging time,” says Bryanna. “It would be amazing if we could get enough people to sponsor the totes so that we could give one to every patient at JHCC.”

If you would like to learn how to get involved, please contact Caren at organizingenvy@gmail.com.




Brain cancer patient Lisa Allain poses for a photo.

A cancer patient’s high-risk pregnancy

“The headaches kept getting worse,” recalls Lisa Allain of Welland. “Then I started to feel nauseous and I was having trouble finding words. I realized that something was seriously wrong after I had a seizure.”

Lisa underwent scans at her local hospital, which revealed a brain tumour.

A young mother’s worst fear

“Receiving the diagnosis was the scariest moment of my life,” she says. “I was a 26-year-old with two children, and I didn’t know how long I had to live. It shook my family to the core not knowing if there would be a tomorrow.”

Lisa had a biopsy at Hamilton General Hospital and additional testing at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC). Her care team determined that surgery was too risky, so she began an intensive program of radiation therapy and medication to stem the growth of the tumour.

“Every day is a true gift for me.”

A life-threatening pregnancy

Another big surprise came when Lisa discovered she was pregnant.

“I was frightened about how the cancer would affect the baby,” recalls Lisa. “I was also worried that the pregnancy might cause the tumour to grow. I was admitted to McMaster University Medical Centre, where the high-risk obstetrics team helped reassure me during this stressful time.”

Lisa went into septic shock 29 weeks into the pregnancy, which was potentially life-threatening for both her and the baby. Luckily she stabilized and gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 35 weeks.

“I was so thankful when I heard my daughter Aspen crying and I knew she was okay. I call her my miracle baby.”

Lisa and her daughter Aspen on the beach with a “3” balloon.
Lisa celebrating her daughter Aspen’s third birthday.

Living with cancer

Lisa continues to receive outpatient care at JHCC. Her ongoing journey with cancer has helped her gain perspective on the important things in life.

“Every day is a true gift for me,” she says. “Thanks to the amazing care I receive at Hamilton Health Sciences, I’m able to spend valuable time with my family and watch my beautiful children grow. I am truly blessed.”

Give the Gift of Health 

This holiday season, help patients like Lisa by donating to Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation’s Gift of Health campaign. Gift of Health donations received by December 31, 2018 will be matched to a maximum of $250,000. Donate at giftofhealth.ca




A stroke survivor speaks with a patient in recovery in a hospital room.

Stroke survivor is here to listen

Lynn Gauthier suffered a stroke just a few years ago. It was a trying experience she hopes she’ll never encounter again.

She saw an opportunity, though, to help others in need. Using her experience as a stroke survivor, Lynn volunteers in Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) stroke rehabilitation unit to talk to new survivors about their experience in recovery.

Through a partnership with March of Dimes Canada, Lynn spends a couple hours every week visiting with patients who recently suffered a stroke. The program is called Peers Fostering Hope.

“I ask them about their families and where they live, really try to get to know them,” says Lynn. “We talk about the pictures on the wall or what’s on TV.”

The introduction helps patients get more comfortable with Lynn and they look forward to those weekly conversations.

Peers Fostering Hope increases confidence

The Peers Fostering Hope program in Hamilton launched earlier this year. It was modelled after the Linking Survivors with Survivors program, which began 10 years ago in the Waterloo-Wellington region.

The goal is to enhance the patient experience while recovering from a major life event. It also helps patients feel less isolated by connecting with someone who’s been through a similar medical issue. Click To Tweet

“I think everyone wishes there was someone who can connect on their level after a medical event.”

An increase in confidence and the knowledge of survivors re-engaging in the community are big factors in a patient’s recovery.

Volunteers can also make referrals to staff based on their observations.

Though Lynn speaks highly of her care team while she recovered from her own stroke, she wishes there was someone who could connect with her the way she’s able to connect with new stroke survivors.

“I think everyone wishes there was someone who can connect on their level after a medical event,” says Lynn.

“Someone to tell you it’s okay to have a bad day, and that you need to allow your brain time to recover. I try to help them come to those terms.”

Former stroke patient now part of the team

Lynn believes her work is making a difference on the unit. Staff in the program agree.

“Engaging past persons with stroke to lend support to new persons with stroke builds our community capacity and raises us to new standards of excellence,” says Jennifer Robinson, clinical manager for the stroke rehabilitation unit at HHS’ Regional Rehabilitation Centre at Hamilton General Hospital.

“Having Lynn in the room helped him to see what life is like on the other side of recovery.”

“I thought this was something we should definitely make available to our patients.”

One patient, Jennifer says, envisioned his life outside the hospital for the first time.

“Having Lynn in the room helped him to see what life is like on the other side of recovery,” adds Jennifer. “I know she feels pride and satisfaction in what she’s doing for our patients. She’s a great addition to the team.”

“I am so happy I became a volunteer for stroke rehabilitation patients,” adds Lynn. “Meeting them all gives me such joy and has brought meaning to my life. I look forward to Wednesdays.”

More than 30 volunteers like Lynn involved in Peers Fostering Hope contributed over 2,500 hours last year at 21 hospitals. Click To Tweet

The partnership with March of Dimes Canada is also supported by the Dr. Ed & Bobby Yielding Fund, Ipsen Canada and the Central South Regional Stroke Network.

 




Max sits on his dad's knee while his mom kneels beside

Moving forward with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

It’s a milestone most families don’t have to encounter. One that opens up new possibilities. But one that also signifies the next chapter in a book with only so many pages left. A good book. The kind you don’t want to put down. The kind you hope never ends.

In October, eight year old Max picked up his new stroller from Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre (RJCHC).

“It’s bittersweet,” says his dad, Andrew. “It was sweet because Max was very happy to get a new stroller. For him it means more freedom, as he can save energy on outings for the things that interest him. Bitter because his stroller isn’t really a stroller. If I am honest, his stroller is a wheelchair, and a wheelchair isn’t something any parent dreams about getting for their child.”

Max has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder that causes muscles to slowly deteriorate and get weaker. Most people with DMD use a wheelchair full-time by time they reach age 13. There is no cure, but Max’s family is working hard to change that.

Being a kid was getting harder

Max’s muscle weakness was causing him to fall, and also making it hard for him to participate in fun activities. He would get so tired from walking to the park that he couldn’t enjoy the jungle gym when he got there. He and his parents talked about whether it was time to get a stroller to give his muscles a break. They decided it was.

Max and his family met with Terri Malchow, his occupational therapist (OT) at RJCHC, to talk about his options. Terri’s role as an OT is to support Max and his family in finding ways for him to be as independent as possible. Through the RJCHC seating clinic, she also works with families to who need mobility devices to ensure they get the most appropriate device.

“When you first get news like this, you feel very alone.”

“When I met with Max’s parents, they told me he would complain of tiredness and ask to use his younger sister’s stroller, or a wagon, for a break from walking,” says Terri. “Since children at Max’s age do not often fit in commercial strollers any longer, we looked at different options that would meet his need.”

Max was fully on board. It took his parents a bit longer to get used to the idea.

The Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis

When Max was diagnosed with DMD a few months before this third birthday, his parents were gutted. They had never heard of it before, and felt the dreams they had for their first born slipping through their fingers. “When you first get news like this, you feel very alone,” recalls Andrew.

It took time, but Andrew, and Kerri, Max’s mom, found purpose in supporting DMD research. They focused on normal family life, finding joy in visits to Hamilton’s waterfalls and parks. As Max’s DMD progressed, those family outings became more challenging.

As they planned for a trip to Quebec City this past summer, Terri suggested they test drive a stroller during their vacation. With the stroller in tow, their family was able to tour the city more confidently. When Max needed a rest, he could ride instead of walk. It allowed them to explore without worry. Max was able to enjoy each attraction since he wasn’t spending most of his energy en route.

Max sits in his stroller to be fitted

When they returned from the trip, they reconnected with Terri to have Max fitted for a stroller of his own.

Moving forward

Ask Max what he thinks about getting a stroller, and you’ll hear he’s pretty excited. It will be his chariot for trips to the park, visits to the local bakery for a treat, and walks on Hamilton’s scenic trails. His parents and care team want to keep fostering this optimism. The stroller really is a tool for Max so he can enjoy what’s most important to him.

“It’s about helping Max conserve strength and energy for those activities that are most meaningful to him,” says Terri.

For his parents, the stroller is still bittersweet. “The experience has been as positive as it possibly could be,” Kerri says. “Terri is fantastic and really relates well to Max. And Max sees the benefits of it.”

It has come to symbolize the strength with which they must confront DMD.

“The stroller is about facing what’s needed and moving forward.”

Because forward is the only direction they can go.

 

 




A hospital porter transports a stretcher in a hallway

Porters improve patient transport times

Making use of a relatively new management system, a team of porters huddled to see if they could improve how patients are transported throughout the hospital.

They discovered their solution would not only improve the experience patients have while they’re admitted, but it could also reduce the strain on porters’ time and resources.

“Our team of porters noticed certain hallways were underused or had a specific purpose, such as for emergencies only,” says Dave DiSimoni, manager of customer support services at Juravinski Hospital. “Opening them up for general patient transportation would improve efficiency.”

Using these hallways was like linking up one road to another, essentially creating a new highway that removed all sorts of bottlenecks.

The change improved the time it took porters to transport patients from their unit to the diagnostic testing area where patients receive scans and X-rays.

“We asked ourselves why it wasn’t possible to use those hallways.”

Surveys showed patient satisfaction increased and some even took the time to write letters to hospital staff.

It also reduced the risk of workplace injuries and the use of more costly “zoom” stretchers required for certain inclines in other hallways.

CQI opens the door for new ideas

It wasn’t until Hamilton Health Sciences’ new Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) system launched in Dave’s department that his team realized their idea’s full potential.

“CQI gave us the opportunity to pursue this issue with a different philosophy,” says Dave. “We asked ourselves why it wasn’t possible to use those hallways.”

As part of CQI, a team must solve a problem on their unit by either assigning it as something they can do right away—termed a ‘just do it’. If it’s more complex and requires additional input from others, they develop what is called an A3.

The A3 process requires staff to ask a series of ‘why’ questions. It forces them to not come up with an immediate solution, but to think about why things are being done the way they’re being done.

This process ultimately finds the root cause of the problem.

Surveys showed patient satisfaction increased and some even took the time to write letters to hospital staff.

They used data to support their outcomes and went through mock scenarios to nail down the new process.

“It was gratifying to see how our team brought this issue to light,” says Jason Morrison, a member of the portering services team. “The problem was solved from the ground up, not top down.”

Because the issue stays on the unit’s white board, it is always front and centre and a solution must be found.

Inspired to work on other improvements

The staff in portering services made a big impact throughout the hospital with this improvement.

Many feel that even though it was a small change, it ultimately helps patients in their recovery. They are now taken down a hallway with better scenery overlooking the mountain brow, rather than going through a series of basement corridors and elevators.

It inspired the team to make other improvements like developing a way to improve patient readiness at the unit level through an automated paging system.

“CQI changes the conversation and increases collaboration between different units,” says team member Holly Jessop.

Their environmental aide colleagues are looking at how they can improve the bed turnaround time for the next patient admission.

“What they’re most proud of is how they were able to come up with this solution on their own, rather than having it delivered by someone like me,” says Dave.

“It’s a front-line solution.”




Portable heart monitor on patient while at home

New technology detects abnormal heart rhythms

Beverly Herridge, 82, was preparing for a knee replacement when she was told she needed surgery to repair a leaky aortic valve that was taxing her heart.

Doctors at Hamilton Health Sciences’ Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) performed a minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) in July 2017. Beverly was under conscious sedation while a surgeon used an X-ray to guide a catheter inserted in her groin. When it reached her heart, doctors inflated a balloon to remove the degenerated valve and guide a new valve into place.

TAVI is a highly effective alternative to open heart surgery for medically frail patients or those with complicating factors, says Dr. Madhu Natarajan, site director for cardiology at HGH. Open heart surgery is done under a general anesthetic and requires stopping the heart and placing the patient on cardiopulmonary bypass. Patients are hospitalized for five to 10 days.

“This is almost an early warning system so that before patients develop symptoms, we can see episodes of abnormal heart rhythms.”

HGH surgeons performed 1,731 TAVIs last year, with three-quarters of patients going home just one day after surgery.

Beverly recovered in hospital for just a few days before agreeing to go home wearing a portable heart monitor so that doctors could track her heart function remotely. “I felt better in my own surroundings and that freed up a bed,” says the Burlington resident. “I am a worrier, but I wasn’t worried about that. I felt good they were watching me.”

The remote monitor collected round-the-clock data that nurses and doctors examined several times daily. It showed a concerning arrhythmia in Beverly’s heart, a complication that affects about 20 per cent of TAVI patients. She was called back to the HGH cardiac clinic where she had a loonie-sized pacemaker implanted that will keep her heart beating in a steady rhythm. She feels very well now and only needs checkups every six months.

Placing remote heart monitor into wearable pouch

Patient putting on the pouch with the remote heart monitor

“They are a great bunch in there,” Beverly says of the doctors and nurses at HGH, a regional centre of excellence for cardiac care and the largest heart surgery program in the country. “I definitely felt I was in good hands.”

Dr. Natarajan is the principal investigator on REdireCT TAVI, a clinical trial into whether remote ECG monitoring of patients before TAVI and after they go home is the answer to efficiently determining who requires a pacemaker, thereby reducing hospital stays and re-admissions.

The two-year study began in June and is being managed through the Population Health Research Institute, a joint institute of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University.

“I definitely felt I was in good hands.”

“This is almost an early warning system so that before patients develop symptoms, we can see episodes of abnormal heart rhythms. Those patients then come directly back to us rather than to their local hospital or the emergency department,” said Dr. Natarajan.

Remote monitoring before TAVI surgery can also alert doctors to arrhythmia or other abnormalities that, in serious cases, can be addressed by implanting a pacemaker during the TAVI procedure.

“Whenever hospital stays are reduced or prevented, that’s better for patient comfort and recovery, and is a more cost-effective and efficient use of healthcare resources,” says Dr. Natarajan.


This is just one of the many digital health projects that are part of our Digital Health Plan.




Pearl Veenema, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, with MacKid Isabella and a rendering of Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre. The Foundation supported the purchase of essential equipment at the Centre which benefits patients like Isabella.

A philosophy of giving for National Philanthropy Day

Helping others in need is good medicine for everyone. With the arrival of National Philanthropy Day on November 15, 2018, it is a time to reflect on how philanthropy can make a real difference in people’s lives.

“Philanthropy is extremely important because it provides an opportunity for people of all ages to come together and serve a higher purpose,” says Pearl Veenema, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation.

Inspired to give back

Pearl’s commitment to philanthropy began at a young age when she dreamed about becoming a nurse.

“During childhood, my grandmother inspired me to be thankful in life and to give in the service of others,” says Pearl. “She came from a background of modest means, yet she was always committed to giving back in her community. Her example was a major influence, both in my personal life and my choice of career.”

“At The Foundation, we have the opportunity to enable the purchase of medical equipment, redevelop clinical spaces, support the next generation of health care professionals through continuing education and foster important medical research.”

Pearl enjoyed her years working as a nurse and patient advocate before transitioning to the charitable sector, which allowed her to live her personal philosophy of philanthropy.

“Philanthropy fills the gap of what the government is unable to provide to those in need across our society, helping families and neighbours when they need it most,” says Pearl.

Enabling health care excellence

When it comes to supporting health care excellence in the region, even the smallest of gifts can have lasting effects throughout the year. Donor support enables Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation to enhance the patient experience at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), which provides care for patients and families from across the region.

“At The Foundation, we have the opportunity to enable the purchase of medical equipment, redevelop clinical spaces, support the next generation of health care professionals through continuing education and foster important medical research.”

Working together

Pearl is grateful for the dedication of physicians and staff at HHS, who share her commitment to philanthropy.

“Their support throughout the year, both volunteering and fundraising, is truly inspiring.  It is great to see them at events such as Strides For The General, Illuminight and MacKids Walk & Wheel, or partnering on campaigns such as Tomorrow Stems From You, the Hybrid Operating Suite or Wellness Courtyard. One of our greatest joys as a Foundation team is partnering with our extended hospital family and working together to make health care excellence a reality.”

A philosophy of giving

Although National Philanthropy Day comes only once a year, Pearl encourages everyone to keep that spirit of philanthropy all year long.

“For me, philanthropy is about much more than just fundraising to buy equipment,” she says. “It’s about helping patients and families, and making sure that the teams at HHS have the tools and physical environment they need to do their best work.”




Andrew painting a pumpkin with a patient

Young patient volunteers in stroke rehab clinic

Andrew Mathieson’s heart defect had to be monitored each year.

He was born with a bicuspid aortic valve instead of a tricuspid valve, which means there are two leaflets of the aortic valve instead of three. This reduces blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Doctor’s noticed Andrew’s aorta started to enlarge to the point of danger.

In December 2017 at 22 years old, Andrew underwent open heart surgery with Dr. Richard Whitlock at Hamilton General Hospital to repair the valve and the enlarged blood vessel.

Following the surgery, Andrew experienced a stroke which left him with loss of vision when looking to his right side and difficulty with concentration and memory.

Portrait of Andrew smiling

Andrew left the hospital near the end of January. Just six months after discharge, he wanted to give back. Through our Volunteer Resources program, Andrew began volunteering as a recreational therapist assistant in the Regional Rehabilitation Centre’s stroke rehab clinic where he received treatment.

“I’m helping out with the same nurses that helped me out. They all know me by name. They find it amazing I’m helping out at the same spot where I met them for rehab,” he says.

Andrew’s neurologist, Dr. Wes Oczkowski, says Andrew is taking his experience in stride.

“The biggest difference compared to most people with a stroke is that he’s only 22. That means his potential improvement – either with further recovery (healing), remediation (working on things to make them better) and the ability to compensate, all have the ability to be better than someone who is 72,” he says.

Part of Andrew’s weekly volunteer visit involves sharing his story with patients over hot chocolate.

“Seeing what I went through really makes them motivated. Every time I go out with them, they really light up,” he says.

They enjoy activities like playing Nintendo Wii bowling, abstract painting together, and even decorating pumpkins in time for Halloween.

Besides volunteering, Andrew runs six to seven kilometers daily to strengthen his heart and support his mental health. He is looking at different career options for his future.

“I hope my story can help connect with those who are going through a hard time and give them a little bit of support in the worst part of their life.”




lab assistant removing research samples from a nitrogen tank

HHS ranks in the top three research hospitals in Canada

Canada's Top 40 Research Hospitals 2018

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has been ranked among the top three research hospitals in Canada, as announced today by Research Infosource Inc..

Research Infosource Inc. is an independent, leading source of ranking information on research universities, corporations, hospitals and colleges in Canada. Each year, it releases results on the top 40 research hospitals in the country, based on total research revenue.

In 2017, Hamilton Health Sciences generated $207 million in research revenue, a 20 per cent increase over the previous year.

“As an academic teaching hospital with a mandate to improve patient care and our healthcare system through research, we take great pride in our achievement of this high ranking among some of Canada’s most accomplished health research communities,” says Ted Scott, vice president of research at HHS.

More than one million participants from across the six inhabited continents have enrolled in research led by HHS.

In partnership with McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences conducts research through five research institutes and centres, with expertise across the spectrum of care. To date, more than one million participants from across the six inhabited continents have enrolled in research led by HHS, and its experts have made discoveries around some of the world’s biggest health challenges.

Click here for more information on research at HHS.




Craig holds his medals in his myoelectric hand

High tech hand makes vet unstoppable

Craig Tourangeau can still feel his hand. The last moment he had it, his fist was closed. Closed tightly around a grenade, about the size of a toilet paper tube. His hand feels exactly as it did in those last seconds—gripped so forcefully that it feels wrapped in layers of duct tape. Except it’s not there.

Craig was part of Joint Task Force 2, which was enlisted to protect the 1994 Commonweath Games from potential terrorism threats. The veteran had completed extensive training. He and his team were running a simulation drill in advance of the games. The scenario: a hostage rescue. Craig was armed with a stun grenade to distract the “terrorist.” It was just a drill, but it got very real, very quickly. The stun grenade was faulty. When Craig pulled the pin, it exploded in his hand.

“It felt like my hand was slammed in a car door,” he recalls.

Craig didn’t let the loss of his hand hold him back. If anything, it has pushed him to work even harder on his goals. There isn’t much he can’t do thanks to his motivation, the team in Hamilton Health Sciences’ Prosthetics and Orthotics Department, and some very cool technology.

“he was showing us things he could do with it that we didn’t even know existed”

“Craig’s success in the use of the prosthesis is a team effort,” says Ken Roczniak, a prosthetist at HHS who has been treating Craig for a number of years. “The patient is very much a part of that team.”

Craig puts a new cover on his myoelectric hand while his prosthetist, Ken, looks on

The power of a myoelectric hand

Craig sits on a bench in a clinical room holding a water bottle with his myoelectric handTechnology has kept pace with Craig’s desire to tackle new challenges with his prosthetic hand. He currently uses a myoelectric system that picks up on electrical signals from his muscles. They voluntarily open and close the hand. It allows him impressive control. He can move his hand into a range of grips by motioning in different directions, or using an app on his phone.

“It requires a fair bit of training to operate,” says Ken. “Craig picked it up so quickly. Before we knew it, he was showing us things he could do with it that we didn’t even know existed.”

Determination is key

Craig regularly sees a team of specialists including a doctor, prosthetist, prosthetic technician, and occupational therapist. They ensure his prosthetic is well fitted, and able to accomplish what he wants it to. He works as a canine police officer, and is an avid motorcycle rider so he needs it to perform at a high level.

“I’m always on the go,” says Craig. “I have different devices for different activities, which allows me to do pretty much everything.”

Ken says that while technology has enabled Craig to take on a range of challenges, his success would not have been possible without his attitude.

“I have the utmost respect for our veterans both past and present,” he says. “I am inspired by Craig’s positive attitude about the challenges that he faces with the loss of his hand. His determination to integrate this technology into his everyday life is a major factor in his success.”

Craig holds his medals with his myoelectric hand