The Upper River Valley Hospital Foundation became a reality two years ago with a focus to return the Carleton County philanthropic energy to the health-care services of the region. The newly installed board's mandate developed quickly. It wanted to provide the modern health-care facility's staff with the type of medical equipment that too often seemed out of reach to rural hospitals in a small province.
The Foundation's first of many purchases showcased that focus. Today, thanks to the Foundation and its community partners, the URVH's operating room medical team has access to state-of-the-art endoscopy equipment to improve health-care delivery to its patients.
Endoscopy equipment provides surgeons and internal medicine specialists the ability to examine, in detail, the esophagus, stomach, small bowel and colon. Unlike other imaging techniques, endoscopes provide direct visualization of this anatomy. Today, with the Foundation's help, the URVH operation room boasts modern endoscopes and trained staff to enhance health-care delivery.
For URVH Foundation chair Dr. Wayne McLaughlin, Vice-Chair Dr. William Mutrie and board members, its first significant purchase highlights why they volunteer their time and effort.
Dr. McLaughlin said the community support that the endoscopy project enjoyed demonstrates the desire to ensure area residents receive the best medical care possible.
Dr. McLaughlin and Dr. Mutrie see this as a great illustration of how a Foundation, supported by Upper River Valley citizens' generosity, can provide a level of equipment that the regular Horizon Health budget would not have otherwise provided.
The MacDougall family made the first major contribution in memory of Betty MacDougall, RN. This was matched by a donation from the Woodstock Rotary Club and will be honoured with a plaque in the Endoscopy Unit waiting area.
"It was an honour to be part of this," said club president Scott Dunlop.
He said the Rotary Club committed $100,000 toward the endoscopy equipment purchase. Dunlop praised the foundation board, adding the region is "lucky" it is here to serve the hospital, staff, and patients.
Dunlop said the Rotary Club would be willing to look at other ways to support the Foundation in the future. The last third of the funds for the endoscopy equipment came through donations from the generous public who will be honoured on the Virtual Display in the hospital lobby.
Dr. McLaughlin said patients waiting for treatment and diagnosis using the new endoscopy equipment would see a plaque on the wall reading, "Donated In Memory of Betty MacDougall, RN by the MacDougall family."
When COVID-19 restrictions allow, Tim Horton franchises' owner, Ian McDougall and his family, wife Elizabeth and children John, Lachie and Grace, will formally present the plaque to adorn the waiting room wall.
Among those most excited by the new state-of-the-art medical equipment are the URVH staff members, who will put it to use.
"As Chief of Surgery for the hospital, I am delighted with the arrival of the new endoscopy equipment, and I am very grateful to Dr. McLaughlin and Dr. Mutrie and the URVH Foundation, together with donors, for making this happen," said Surgery Department Head, Dr. Gurpreet Singh-Ranger, BSc MSc MS MRCS(Eng) FCBS FRCS(Eng) FRCSGlasg(GenSurg) Cert Med Teacher.
Dr. Singh-Ranger called the purchase a remarkable achievement.
"Amongst other things, URVH is at the forefront of colorectal cancer screening as part of the New Brunswick Cancer Care Program," he said. "The new equipment will allow us to improve our diagnostic and treatment options for all patients with colorectal disease. Also, being state of the art is a positive step forward for patient safety and improved quality of care in the facility."
General Surgeon Dr. Pejman Sadeghi enjoyed the honour of being the first endoscopist to try URVH's new unit.
"The new system combines the superior image quality, less patient discomfort and more ergonomic design for the operator at the same time," he said. "Also, the advanced LCI technology increases the adenoma detection and therefore polyp removals which translates to colon cancer prevention over time."
Dr. Sadeghi also expressed his gratitude to the Foundation and donors.
"At the end of the day, our patients will benefit the most from our new endoscopy unit with every cancer that we can prevent or diagnose in early stages to ensure the possibility of cure," he said.
Nurses, too, understand the impact the new equipment has on their efforts and the health of their patients.
"The new endoscopy equipment will have a big impact for nursing," said Heike Best, Operating Room Nurse Manager. "Nurses assist the surgeon/endoscopist during the procedure, so they need to have an in-depth knowledge of the equipment and process. The ease of use and exceptional quality of the video will free up the nurse to spend more time with the patient for monitoring and comfort measures. This helps to create a positive outcome for the patient."
Best also expressed deep appreciation to the major sponsors for their generous donation and the community for their contributions towards the project.
"When we work together for a common goal, we can achieve great things," she said. "We are blessed to have The Upper River Valley Hospital Foundation, who was able to take on this project and bring it to fruition."
URVH operating room nurse Barbie McAllister said staff eagerly awaited the arrival of the scopes and discovered the pictures they delivered reached beyond their expectations.
"It is so clear that very small things can be seen," she said. "This equipment will benefit the community as a whole, and we can continue to prevent colon cancer by catching things early. The new system is user-friendly and makes the procedures easier for physicians, nurses and most of all, the patient. We are very grateful that the Foundation graciously funded this project."
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun