Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2North Patio unveiled!

Some of the key supporters and Rouge Valley Health System staff celebrated the opening of the 2 North Patio on June 25 at Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital. They are, from left: Rene Soetens of the Rotary Club of Ajax; Tom Hanna and Dave Wylie of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #322; Kenneth McMillan, a donor; Andree Robichaud, RVHS President & CEO; Dr. Romas Stas, donor and RVHS Associate Chief of Staff; Karl Wong and Dawn Chin, representing the 2North unit; Henry Kortekaas, project architect; and Chad Hanna, RVHS Foundation President & CEO.
Thanks to a donor-funded project at Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital (RVAP), patients needing long-term care now have a new space to aid in recovery, a place to escape the confines of the hospital for fresh air, just steps away from their rooms.

See pictures from the donor-appreciation patio unveiling event, here.

There is a stark difference between a hospital room and access to space offering open air, sunshine and greenery. At RVAP's second-floor Integrated care of the Elderly unit (ICE), patients who have had no easy access to the great outdoors before, now have a beautiful and comfortable new place to call their own. And according to the medical staff here, better known as 2 North, the current changes and future plans will make a big difference in quality of life for everyone on the unit.

"It's what it's going to mean to the patients and families (that is important)," says Amanda Whyte, a Unit Coordinator. "(In the past) very rarely did anyone go out, only in the summer time, and it got too hot and there was really no place for them to sit."

Today new tables, with bright red metal umbrellas to shade people from the sun, are easily accessible, with more benches, more shade and planters attached to the brickwork to hold what will become a plant-covered wall as the season continues. It is the completion of Phase 1 of the project and the start of what will be a transformation of the space.

"I think for patients it will be fantastic, says Dr. Romas Stas, Associate Chief of Staff, Rouge Valley Health System." To be able to go out and get some fresh air in a beautiful environment, for people to rehabilitate and to feel better, when people get run down and depressed – because a lot of them stay here for quite a long time, months sometimes – it makes a big difference."

 It's a project that reflects community generosity every step of the way. Not only is the patio materials and work funded entirely by donations, the architectural planning itself was donated. Henry Kortekaas, Principal Landscape Architect at Henry Kortekaas and Associates Inc., is a volunteer at RVAP and the hospital has played a large role in the lives of his family. He explains he is happy to offer assistance to a project that enhances the lives of those who will use it.

"There are a lot of scientific reasons to create landscaped spaces for the ill or injured and their families and hospital staff," Mr. Kortekaas says. "It is a well-known fact that both healthy and sick people can benefit physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually from outdoor recreational activity in a vegetative setting."

Supporting the hospital is a very personal thing for the Kortekaas family, for the way RVAP has played a part in their lives.

"Both Julie, our youngest daughter, and Maureen, our middle daughter were born there," he says.  "Maureen, however, suffered an adverse reaction to the DPT vaccine and spent many months at the hospital over her 24 year lifespan. Staff and doctors helped us make it as much of a positive experience as possible."

Now others will have a positive experience thanks to the patio. Dawn Chin, Manager, Nursing, Inpatient Rehab and ICE, sees the potential for the space, with Phase 1 complete and many more improvements to be completed in the next steps.

"It's good therapy for patients, to be honest," she says. "It kind of motivates them and we're planning… to have it extend, so we can actually walk around. So the possibilities are there, that we can have physio out there and things like that."

"So it's kind of expanding the space that we can use for our patients," she adds.

Dr. Stas, a donor to the project himself, says he feels the support for the project has been like that for the MRI campaign, with so many people getting involved. Along with municipal support, clubs and individuals, it has been a combined effort, he explains.

"I think that's the beauty about this place," he says. "This is why everybody is going to feel they have a vested interest in making it succeed."

"And it's nice to have a place for donors to see this is what we've actually done with the money," adds Ms. Whyte.
 /Dave Stell


Special thanks to the generous donors to this project:
Mary (May) Dal Cin 
Kenneth McMillan & Family, in tribute to Dr. Romas V. Stas 
Mayor Dave Ryan & the City of Pickering Mayor’s Gala 
Rotary Club of Ajax, District 7070 
Royal Canadian Legion #322, Ajax Branch 
Dr. Romas V. Stas 
Town of Ajax

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Who's Your Caddy? 2015

The Heart Throbs won "Best Dressed". Sherry Robinson,
Chair of Who's Your Caddy?, left, presented the prize,
with the help of fellow committee member Brenda Colvin, far right.

The Who's Your Caddy? Ladies Only Golf Tournament was a fun and funny day on the links for the women and their caddies this year, at Royal Ashburn golf and country club.

We were very honoured with a surprise donation of $10,000 from the Pickering Legion!

Here are our award winners this year:
Best costumes: The Heart Throbs
Best decorated cart: McDonald's
Team spirit award: Metroland
And the caddies were judged for exceptional abilities, but once again all of them proved to be first-rate! So Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital Operating Room Manager Lisa McVety thanked each caddy with a carnation, in true 'Bachelorette' style!

This tournament is designed for busy women who may or may not like to golf, but who love their local hospital and want to support it.

See pictures of the awards here.
See pictures of hijinks on the course here.

Thanks to everyone who participated and especially our wonderful sponsors!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hope springs eternal for Ms. Letna and her annual Healing Hope Brunch

At centre, Ms. Letna, with daughter Yanique Williams and Jennifer Taylor,
presented a cheque for $6,100 to Ros Sagar-Lal, Katherine Craine,
RVHS Chief of Staff Dr. Naresh Mohan and Foundation President and CEO Chad Hanna.

Letna Allen-Rowe held her third annual Healing Hope Fundraising Brunch on March 29 in Scarborough and a great crowd of supporters, including local politicians and community leaders, came out to enjoy the event. 

The brunch featured a fantastic lineup of entertainment, with dancers and musicians, and even a special guest speaker from Rouge Valley Centenary’s Urology Program, Dr. Zak Klinghoffer, who shared his knowledge of men’s prostate and cancer care. 

Ms. Letna, a performer and singer herself, was very excited to bring together talented singers, along with the popular and funny Marcia Brown, for the audience’s enjoyment.

She visited Rouge Valley Centenary hospital on April 28 to present the proceeds of the event and she once again went well past her goal and brought $6,100! It was the icing on the cake for the passionate breast cancer survivor who is ambitious about the future of the oncology program she is so grateful to, she says.

“My hope is that when people in the east end get cancer, they can come here for first class cancer care,” she explains. “We have the best doctors, I can tell people first-hand! And you get such great attention here.”

Joining her for the presentation were her co-organizers, her own daughter, Yanique Williams and their good friend Jennifer Taylor. 

Ms. Williams added that she was pleased the event has evolved over the years to include other cancers, when it was breast cancer that was the focus in the past. To bring a doctor to talk about men’s health, and to see men in the audience enjoying the event, was special to her.

“The educational aspect will get people to reflect on their life choices,” she explains.

To see all of the photos from the 2015 Brunch event, click here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Community brings support to mental health patient care

From left: Julie Kish, Manager Mental Health Program;
Christine Henry, Margaret Birch Wing Therapy Program; Jim Morrissey,
Mental Health Council for Scarborough;
and Jessica Ng, Mental Health Recreational Therapy Program.

By Dainah Ramsay
On April 10, 2015, Rouge Valley Health System Foundation was presented with a cheque in the amount of $4,000 from a long-time donor Mr. Jim Morrissey, director of the Mental Health Council for Scarborough.

Mr. Morrissey, has been working with the Mental Health Council for Scarborough for 45 years. His involvement with the organization started with his parents who were the Heads of Psychiatry at Centenary hospital and Scarborough General hospital.

The Mental Health Council for Scarborough was established in 1968 by Margaret Birch (MPP) a dedicated founding member along with Stan Barron and Gilbert Herman.

“I love working with the organization because of the work they do,” said Morrissey. “I’ve been a part of it for so long and I have my parents to thank for that.”

The donation will be used towards Recreational Therapy and Mental Health Inpatient care at Rouge Valley Centenary hospital.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Announcing The Karen Mayne Leadership Development Award

We are pleased to announce a new endowment fund with the Mayne Family: 
“The Karen Mayne Leadership Development Award”.

"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas A. Edison
According to Karen’s son, Andrew, this quote embodies all there is to know and understand about Karen.  No challenge was too daunting; no dream too big for everyone was capable of achieving more than they ever expected to. 

In her time with Rouge Valley, Karen Mayne embodied the true spirit of the organization and her enthusiasm was an inspiration to all who knew her.  She constantly expressed her love and enthusiasm of lifelong learning, which naturally led to her appointment as Director, Professional Practice.  She revitalized the nursing bursary program, culminating in the annual Celebration of Learning event to present bursaries to worthy recipients.  Karen recognized that in order for RVHS to truly embrace a culture of caring and compassion all staff needed to participate, including senior leadership, physicians, and administrative staff.  She was instrumental in bringing the Cleveland Clinic’s Communicate with HEART program to Rouge, which is now a mandatory program for all employees and physicians.

The Karen Mayne Leadership Development Award, of $1,000, will fund an educational course, initiative, conference or seminar that supports the aims and objectives of leadership development.  It is open to all RVHS nurses and allied professionals. 

Contributions from the Mayne family and memorial gifts from her many friends and colleagues have made the creation of this Award possible.  Donations continue to be welcome and can be made through the Rouge Valley Health System Foundation.

Endowment Funds with a long range outlook
The term “Endowment” is often associated with vast sums of money that a wealthy philanthropist has left to an arts organization or a university.  In its simple form, an endowment is a sum of money that is donated to a charitable organization and either invested in perpetuity, or, paid out over a set number of years. 

Donors have created a number of endowment funds at RVHSF with the greatest area of support being the ongoing education and training of nurses and allied professionals in the form of awards and bursaries.  These are presented at the annual Celebration of Learning Event which will be held on May 14, 2015 at both Rouge Valley Centenary hospital and Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital.


For more information on Endowment Funds, contact Mary Slavik at 905-683-2320, ext. 1956 or mslavik@rougevalley.ca.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Launch of the In Our Hands campaign

The Launch of the In Our Hands campaign was held at a private loft with a view of the CN Tower, on Feb. 10 in Toronto.

Visit the website here: bit.ly/1FDmOJm to learn more about the campaign. Read some personal stories below, of how Rouge Valley's Urology program is changing and saving lives:

The week he was named Canada’s best crossing guard by SafeKids Canada, Carl Edquist learned he had aggressive prostate cancer and would be in for the fight of his life.

Recently retired from the Toronto Transit Commission, Mr. Edquist was enjoying life as a neighbourhood crossing guard and had time to hit the gym every day. He felt in great shape.
And then life threw him a curve ball.

After hearing news that his younger brother had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and, with his dad already living with the disease, Carl had opted for a PSA test “to be on the safe side.” A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is standard for measuring prostate health. Carl’s was nearly 15 per cent higher than in most men his age.

“I was completely shocked,” said Carl, who lives in West Rouge with his family. “I had absolutely no symptoms and felt great.”

“Carl’s case was tough because the disease was so far advanced,” said Dr. Greg Trottier, a Urologist at Rouge Valley Health System. “I knew Carl was an active guy and didn’t want to take chances by using radiation therapy to get rid of the cancer. Surgery had to be the first option.”

Following the four-hour surgery, which involved removing the entire prostate, Carl had six weeks of radiation, with two years of hormone therapy to decrease the chance of recurrence.

“Dr. Trottier gives it his all and went for it during the surgery,” said Carl, who recently celebrated a milestone in the gym. “I’m now back to my presurgery strength at the gym.”

Every day patients are referred to RVHS urologists for surgery to correct urological disorders that range from straight-forward cases of kidney stones and incontinence to the most difficult cancer surgeries.

Then there are cases such as Heather Pugh’s.

After months of trying to find the medical reason for her fatigue and dramatic weight loss, Heather Pugh needed answers. Her family doctor explained that her CT scan showed a large mass near or on her kidney.

“By mass, you mean malignant tumour, right?” Heather asked, terrified at the word, ‘cancer.’

In a CT scan, cysts present as fluid, tumours as solid tissue; there was no mistaking the 15 cm tumour. According to Dr. Jeffrey Spodek, RVHS Division Head, Urology, kidney cancers can grow quite large without detection because there are few nerves in kidneys and therefore little pain.
Their location allows room for growth, so often kidney cancer is only discovered once it reaches an advanced stage. In Heather’s case, the cancer was too far advanced to save the affected kidney. “If we didn’t operate, the cancer would have spread and it’s quite likely that Heather wouldn’t be here with us today,” says Dr. Spodek. “We were happy to get Heather into surgery quickly, and with good results.”

Today, six years later, Heather, a car enthusiast, says she’s back to her active lifestyle.
Right now Rouge Valley urgently needs your help to ensure patients get the best care, aided by the best technology and proven approaches to care. Improvements to Rouge Valley’s surgical program will have an immediate, lasting impact that will be felt by thousands of our neighbours, family members and friends.

Be a part of some very exciting changes in Rouge Valley Health System’s Surgical Urology program.
To complete Rouge Valley’s Phase One investment, an additional $500,000 must be raised to renovate and equip a new cystoscopy suite at Rouge Valley Centenary hospital. With the larger cystoscopy operating table now on site, the plan is to redevelop a new suite that will better accommodate it, and properly house the GreenLight™ laser, laparoscopic technology and the advanced equipment designed specifically for the table.

Find out how you can help. For more information, contact Katherine Craine, Director, Major Gifts & Special Campaigns, at kcraine@rougevalley.ca, or call 416-281-7119.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Volunteer Profile: Chris Balakrishna

Chris Balakrishna has been a member of the Auxiliary to Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital for a relatively short time, just two years, but in his role at the information desk and in the MRI Unit on different days, his smile and kind demeanor are making an impact on many of those he has met so far.

He explains that he was inspired by his two daughters to become a volunteer, having seen them in different volunteer work when he lived in Windsor, before moving to Ajax in 2009. Retired since 2008, Mr. Balakrishna previously spent time driving people to medical appointments and as a driver for Meals on Wheels. What keeps him going is the personal interaction he enjoys with people he meets.

“One woman was walking by and then she came back after a moment and she said to me, ‘you have a beautiful smile, so welcoming’” he says. “Moments like that make me feel good to be giving back.”

In the MRI Unit, he prepares people for their scans and here he gets more interaction with people. Mr. Balakrishna marvels at the work the team do in that department.



“They are so good at what they do,” he says. “They are always smiling and they make patients comfortable by explaining every step.”