‘We’re all in this Together’: William Osler Health System Foundation

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How hospitals in the province’s hardest hit communities responded to COVID-19

Most of us don’t expect to be admitted to hospital—until we are.

On March 16th, Brampton resident Jason Rampaul, 41, started feeling sick. He didn’t think much of it, until an ongoing high temperature prompted him to visit the COVID-19 Assessment centre at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness, one of William Osler Health System’s (Osler) three hospital sites.

The previously healthy father of two developed breathing difficulties and was admitted to Brampton Civic Hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19. “I was definitely scared,” Jason says. “I have two kids and the first thing on your mind is family and the kids and a lot of, ‘What if this goes sideways?’”

“When we started to see patients returning from abroad in January, we realized we needed to plan ahead and start to prepare ourselves—not wait until we were seeing it at our front door. It was a huge team effort to mobilize,” says Dr. Michael Garay, Site Chief of Emergency Medicine at Brampton Civic.

To mobilize for the emerging pandemic, Osler opened one of the province’s first COVID-19 Assessment Centres in Brampton in mid-March; in early April, with local cases on the rise, Osler opened a drive-thru centre in Etobicoke to help minimize virus spread through early detection. The centres would also help reduce volumes in Osler’s Emergency Departments so staff and physicians could serve vulnerable patients with issues unrelated to COVID-19.

The communities served by Osler were hit particularly hard by COVID-19 and many months later, physicians, staff and volunteers are still working tirelessly to keep their communities safe and healthy as hospitals resume non-urgent service. “I have seen people come together in a way that in 15 years at Osler I’ve never seen before,” says Dr. Sergio Borgia, Corporate Chief of Infectious Diseases.

Patients battling COVID-19 do so without their families by their sides. “Being in hospital overnight for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect,” says Jason. “It was just chaotic for me mentally.” Now fully recovered, Jason is profoundly grateful for his Osler team. “You had these nurses that cared. If there’s anything to highlight, I think, it’s these people that are doing everything they can to care for their patients. The nurses found a way to let me know it’s going to be okay.”

All equipment in a hospital must be funded by the community, and in the midst of a health crisis like COVID-19, donations become more important than ever. To help meet the ongoing health care needs of the community, William Osler Health System Foundation (Osler Foundation) set out to raise $5 million to help purchase essential equipment.

Thanks to donations large and small from individuals, community groups and corporations—including several generous matching gifts—critical life- saving equipment made an immediate impact. With 38 new state-of-the-art ventilators, Osler is now one of the first community hospitals in Ontario able to provide hightech ventilators to every patient requiring oxygenation in their Critical Care Units. The purchase of 53 electric beds, 40 vital signs monitors and 4 vein finders helps staff continue to deliver exemplary patient care. And, thanks to donor support, new lab equipment enables Osler to process some of their ongoing COVID-19 tests in-house—important technology for the busiest testing site in Ontario.

The pandemic will be with us for a while, and the urgent equipment needs across Osler hospitals are ongoing, making donor support more important than ever to ensure critical health care is available close to home.

“What donors need to understand is their gifts, their generosity, means so much for our ability to fight this, more than they’ll perhaps ever know,” says Dr. Borgia. In addition to high-profile equipment like ventilators, many other things are required, like iPads for virtual visitation.

“Donors are an extension of the response team. If I could grow five more arms and each of those arms be a donor, think of how much farther my reach would be.”

Every single piece of equipment our medical experts use every day is 100% funded by our community. You can support Osler’s Health Care Heroes in their fight against COVID-19 with a donation at oslerfoundation.org.