Patient grateful for donor-funded tools used to diagnose and treat her cancer, close to home

Smiling woman standing outside the PRHC

Tracey Germa’s mammogram was supposed to be routine, but a few days later she was back at PRHC for an ultrasound, then a biopsy. With invasive ductal carcinoma confirmed, Tracey had a mastectomy.

“Since then I’ve been grateful, again and again, to PRHC’s doctors, nurses, and staff for their expert care and their compassion,” she says.

Tracey is also thankful to donors, who funded the tools her team used to diagnose and treat her close to home.

“From the mammography machines and ultrasounds, to the surgical suites, lab equipment and Dysart Radiation Centre. Thanks to donors, I had access to leading-edge technology that helped PRHC shorten my wait times while giving my doctor the clearest results,” she says. “Our hospital gave me a better chance at surviving.”

Our CEO is inspiring future fundraisers!

Congratulations to our President & CEO Lesley Heighway who recently spent a week volunteering as an instructor at the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s prestigious Madison Institute at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business.

“A year’s worth of learning in just five days”, the Institute offers healthcare development professionals an opportunity to learn and share best practices in healthcare philanthropy, while developing valuable professional connections.

A two-time graduate of the Institute herself, Lesley says she was honoured to have the opportunity to help inspire future fundraisers.

“Teaching at Madison was such a rewarding and affirming experience,” she says. “As a believer in life-long learning, it was a pleasure to share my skills and experience while also learning from my students, all of whom were as passionate about our cause as I am!”

Impact Spotlight: Donor-funded ED equipment is helping save patients’ sight

A doctor examines a patient's eyes using a slit lamp

Last year, more than 76,000 patients visited Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s Emergency Department (ED) in search of urgent, expert healthcare. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s historically one of the busiest EDs in the province.

Throughout the year, emergency physician Dr. Aidan Cunniffe and his colleagues use an ophthalmology microscope known as a slit lamp up to 2,000 times to diagnose urgent eye health issues and help save patients’ sight. This essential equipment many of us have encountered during a scheduled eye exam includes a binocular microscope and a strong, concentrated light.

Used so often, the slit lamp wore out last year and was replaced – not like-for-like – but with more advanced equipment funded by PRHC Foundation donors. The new technology is more reliable and instead of incandescent light bulbs that regularly burn out, features powerful, long-lasting LED light.

Dr. Cunniffe uses the lamp to examine a patient’s eyes and get a clear, 3-D look at what is happening in and around them. By adjusting the light, he can look at different parts of the eyes and face, including the skin around the eye, the eyelids and lashes, the surface and other layers of the eye, and the retina. The lamp helps him spot foreign bodies, abrasion of the cornea, signs of impact or detachment of the retina, and infection.

“Occupational injuries are a common emergency eye health issue we see in the ED,” says Dr. Cunniffe. “Recently a patient who had been injured at work came in with a lacerated cornea – a cut into the eyeball. He’d lost his vision. The slit lamp helped me diagnose the injury quickly, expediting an emergency eye surgery to save his sight.”

It’s crucial that PRHC’s emergency doctors, nurses and staff have the technology necessary to diagnose patients and get them the best treatment as soon as possible. Because the government doesn’t fund equipment, PRHC counts on donors to fund the lifesaving and life-changing tools the hospital’s healthcare providers need – essentials like the slit lamp.

“Thank you, donors,” says Dr. Cunniffe. “Because of your generosity the new slit lamp is helping me provide vital care to patients from across the region.”

Doug Lavery sees the impacts of his monthly gifts first-hand

A volunteer stands in front of the hospital's main entrance

When Doug Lavery first started volunteering at PRHC 12 years ago, he’d already been a donor to the PRHC Foundation for decades. Doug is a way-finder at the hospital and as he helps patients and visitors navigate the building, he sees and hears about the outstanding care provided at PRHC.

“I see people coming through the front doors every day,” says Doug. “My role is to make them feel more comfortable and help them get where they need to go. If it’s appropriate, I try to lighten the situation with some conversation and I hear from them how much they appreciate the care they or a loved one are receiving.”

Doug’s family has also experienced that great care, but it was after volunteering that he understood how the quality of patient care is connected to fundraising. Because the government doesn’t fund equipment, PRHC counts on donations to fund the tools doctors, nurses and staff need to save and change lives every day.

“After volunteering and realizing the importance of what the Foundation does to support the hospital, I wanted to donate regularly. This is something I believe in,” he says. That’s why Doug became a monthly donor to the PRHC Foundation.

Consistent, ongoing support from monthly donors like Doug lets the Foundation provide both flexible and reliable funding for PRHC’s equipment needs. This means the Foundation can respond quickly to the hospital’s most urgent requests as they arise, while also providing sustainable funding for longer term planning.

Together we’ve invested in every corner of the Health Centre – something Doug witnesses every day as a volunteer. His gifts help PRHC invest in state-of-the-art technology, which then fuels innovation, brings lifesaving new services to our region, and helps the hospital attract the best and brightest healthcare professionals. Plus, monthly giving helps the Foundation save on administrative costs, making those donations – and those impacts – go even further.

“If I can contribute something to enable the hospital to acquire the best equipment, then attract the best personnel to work with that equipment, then the sky’s the limit for PRHC,” Doug explains. “Whether a donation is big or small, something positive is being done. You know you’re donating to a good cause now and for the future.”

Becoming a monthly donor is easy to do online, or for more information, please call 705-876-5000.

Donors are helping the future of healthcare unfold across PRHC’s spectrum of care

PRHC Foundation donors have funded millions of dollars in equipment and technology across the wide spectrum of cancer care at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

From the Norm & Jessie Dysart Radiation Centre and Breast Assessment Centre, to lifesaving investments in laboratory and surgical equipment, to current fundraising for two new CT scanners, a second MRI machine and technology that supports the automated preparation of chemotherapy medication, donors are supporting cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment for patients from across our region, close to home.

Among these prominent cancer care departments and tools though, is a lesser known area of medicine that is quickly becoming essential not only to cancer care, but to the future of healthcare at your hospital. Interventional radiology is an innovative specialty where experts like PRHC’s Dr. Sohail Zaheer use high-tech imaging to help them steer needles, guidewires and catheters into tiny incisions in the skin and through blood vessels. It’s used to find and fix issues just about anywhere in the body.

With it, Dr. Zaheer and his colleagues can stop bleeding, take tissue samples, put in access lines for dialysis, open up blood vessels, cauterize tumours, or even stop tumours from growing by blocking their blood supply. These procedures are performed without the large incisions and associated risks of open surgery.

This means less pain and shorter recovery times for patients like Liz, who was diagnosed and treated for metastatic breast cancer at PRHC. Interventional radiology is just part of the spectrum of her care made possible by your donations.

Dr. Zaheer shares that Liz is now cancer-free and he recently removed her port-a-cath – a device he implanted under her skin two years before for easy access to chemotherapy medication.

“As an interventional radiologist, the best part of my job is helping people like Liz get back to their lives as quickly and painlessly as possible,” he says.

There are a lot of patients like Liz. PRHC’s interventional radiologists already perform 6,000 procedures a year and the need is growing. But PRHC’s interventional radiology facilities are 13 years old, need updating, and are too small to fit essential new equipment and the number of medical personnel required to use it.

To meet that need and bring new treatments to our region, the Foundation is committed to funding a $6 million investment in interventional radiology. With your help, PRHC will renovate and expand its facilities, outfitting them with state-of-the-art technology. Then Dr. Zaheer and his colleagues can perform more – and more complex – procedures. “Because donors care, the future of healthcare is unfolding right here,” he says.

For more information on this exciting investment, please call 705-876-5000, or make a donation online.

Impact Spotlight: First in Canada SPECT/CT bringing best possible care closer to home

A medical radiation technologist demonstrates a SPECT/CT machine

Did you know that with the help of donors, in 2019 PRHC invested in a cutting-edge new SPECT/CT machine that was the first of its kind in Canada? This state-of-the-art technology represented the biggest leap forward in nuclear medicine in over a decade.

Since its installation made possible by donor generosity, the new SPECT/CT has scanned approximately 2,000 patients a year, providing PRHC’s experts with detailed 3D images so they can more clearly identify and pinpoint the site of any abnormality, particularly tumours, diagnose and stage cancer, and determine how patients’ treatments are progressing.

SPECT/CT uses two types of scans that when combined, allow doctors to gather more precise information about a specific part of the body. Scans with this machine are higher quality, take less time and use less radiation than the machine it replaced. For patients this means a more precise and timely diagnosis, and a more comfortable and safe procedure.

“PRHC has been on the leading edge, using advanced technology like SPECT/CT to bring the best possible care closer to home for our region’s residents,” says PRHC Nuclear Medicine Charge Technologist Brad Plain. “This equipment allows us to obtain the best quality images possible in a much shorter period, helping patients feel less anxiety and discomfort during the process, and helping doctors make diagnoses and treatment decisions sooner.”

Historic $5 million donation to Cardiac Care

Dr. Warren Ball, Lesley Heighway, Jim Neill and Dr. Peter McLaughlin

PRHC has been supported by a tradition of philanthropy since its beginning. Now, a generous community member has stepped forward to honour that tradition and inspire others by making the largest donation in PRHC Foundation history: A $5 million commitment to PRHC’s Cardiac Centre of Excellence from donor Jim Neill.

Mr. Neill’s gift will have a transformational impact on patient care now and in the future, explains Dr. Warren Ball, PRHC Interventional Cardiologist & Head of Division, Cardiology. “This gift will help keep our hearts here today by investing in significantly improved technology,” he says, “and when you add state-of-the-art technology to our exceptional patient care, his investment will empower us to pursue our vision for tomorrow.”

Dr. Ball continues, “While the planning for this exciting opportunity is in the early stages, we’re committed to ensuring our patients have access to the finest, most comprehensive cardiac care available, right here at PRHC.”

Lesley Heighway, PRHC Foundation President & CEO, agrees. “As Dr. Ball said, our hospital has exciting plans for the future of cardiac care. It will take the collective support of donors to stoke the flames of innovation,” says Lesley, “but it takes the support of a visionary leader to ignite the spark. Mr. Neill’s incredible $5 million investment in cardiac care will do just that. We’re so grateful for his gift.”

For a time, Mr. Neill was based in Toronto where he lived minutes from multiple hospitals. He realized the significance of having a world-class Health Centre to serve a regional population when he moved back to the Peterborough area.

“I really appreciated how different it is here,” he says, “but you need the same care. I wanted to be part of that process of providing very timely cardiac care close to home. And they’ve got such great plans for the future, I thought I could make a contribution and be part of that.”

Inspiring others to join him in contributing to the healthcare of the region – no matter the size of the donation – is also a major consideration for Mr. Neill. “I hope that my donation will encourage and inspire others, as donors who have come before have inspired me,” he says.

Learn more about how to make an impact on Cardiac Care at PRHC.