An accident can happen in an instant to any of us, and while some mishaps are easily fixed, others can be life-altering, or life-ending, if the skills and resources aren’t readily available to help.
It’s something Saanich Peninsula resident Cheryl knows all too well, after a fall from a ladder tore the artery that pumps blood to her spleen.
Rushed to Saanich Peninsula Hospital’s Emergency Department in shock and rapidly losing blood, the hospital team worked quickly, inserting intravenous lines, conducting a CT scan and blood work, and manually infusing 12 units of blood and two units of plasma. They also resuscitated her following cardiac arrest — twice.
Cheryl was then transported to Victoria General Hospital for emergency surgery, accompanied by paramedics, Saanich Peninsula Hospital emergency physician Dr. Jeff Unger, and two nurses.
Close to home care
As a critical care nurse for more than 30 years, Cheryl describes her experience as a trauma patient as surreal.
“As I watched my blood pressure on the monitor creep dangerously low, I felt myself slipping away. Just before my first arrest, I told Dr. Unger I was going to die,” she recalls. “I’m so very grateful that this hospital is so close to home. If this hospital wasn’t here, I would have died.”
Beyond the physical building, that life-saving care came down to the care teams and tools within it.
“Cheryl’s case is one of a handful of cases in my career that really cements for me the privilege and the honour that it is to do the work I do,” says Dr. Unger, an emergency physician for 23 years.
In particular, hospital’s Emergency team have spent a decade developing specialised expertise with resuscitation, training extensively in advanced cardiac life support care, aided by a simulation mannequin purchased by the Saanich Peninsula Hospital & Healthcare Foundation. That training saved Cheryl’s life.
Today, the Close to Home campaign aims to raise $2 million to strengthen access to both primary and emergency care for the community, focusing on three key areas: Emergency Equipment; Surgical Sets in the Operating Rooms and Better Access to Primary Care.
“This campaign is built around some of the equipment the emergency team wish they’d had during Cheryl’s care,” explains Sarah Bragg, Foundation president and CEO, noting that “support for one area of focus supports all areas.”
Bragg is immensely grateful for the ongoing relationship between the people of the Saanich Peninsula and their community hospital. “There is nothing more important when it comes to accessing healthcare close to home,” she says. “We wouldn’t have it without the generosity of the people of the Saanich Peninsula.”
On the day of Cheryl’s hospital discharge, Dr. Unger invited her and her husband, Richard, to the review of her trauma case. “Resuscitating patients, even successfully, takes a toll on staff and physicians, and involving patients and families in a review of their case helps everyone heal,” she reflects. It also “allowed us to wholeheartedly thank the team and check in on how they were doing.”