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QEH – Healthcare here, at home.

Neville Lawless and his granddaughter, Jenny Dunne, are grateful patients of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after experiencing separate emergency health issues, and they praise QEH health care providers and their expertise in saving Neville’s life.

The start of the New Year was not as Neville and Bertha Lawless of Kinkora had expected. On January 1, 2014, as soon as daylight hit, they were on their way to QEH Emergency Department with Neville in extreme abdominal pain and nausea. With quick action of physicians and nurses in the ER, Neville underwent numerous diagnostic and lab tests to help diagnose his severe gastric pain.  Recalling the extraordinary support of many QEH physicians by name, they particularly draw attention to Dr. Don Clark who drove from Kensington – in a dreadful snow storm – to perform a bronchoscope.

With no improvement to his condition and falling in and out of consciousness, Neville was moved to the Intensive Care Unit under Dr. Patrick Bergin’s care. Four litres of fluid was drained, and his heart stopped. The family was in shock. Staff offered services of spiritual care, and a priest was called to Neville’s bedside – the family reiterating that the staff ‘thought of everything.’

After eight days in ICU, the family felt a ray of hope when son, Andrew, remembered to keep with tradition and tune the radio to the Saturday Night Hoedown and Neville suddenly tapped his foot to the music! With his condition stabilizing, Neville was transferred to Halifax for transesophageal surgery and soon returned to the QEH for recovery and extensive rehabilitation.

Both daughter Joanne and their other son Gerry agree “our hospital surpasses any other facility we’ve seen!”  We truly realized, once we were transferred out-of-province, how fortunate we are to have the facility, staff and expertise that we have right here, close to home, close to our support system.

A retired teacher, Neville continues to enjoy working on his farm, and his family attributes his active life on the farm as part of his strength to pull through.

“It’s just a miracle -the equipment and technology, the explanation of the situation, and the care (even a cup of tea) – they thought of everything.” Bertha Lawless

The following year, Neville’s granddaughter, Jenny Dunne, experienced her own health scare. In June 2015, Jenny could no longer ignore the severe abdominal pains she had been having intermittently since March. With her condition quickly deteriorating, her parents Joanne and Steve brought their 16 year old daughter to the QEH Emergency Department at 2 am. Jenny recalls it being a stressful time of year studying for Grade 11 final exams and preparing for prom.

After several diagnostic tests including an ultrasound and CT scan, it was discovered that she had an abscess in her stomach the size of a pop can, Jenny recalls. Not that long ago, patients would need to go off-Island to have that procedure, but thankfully Dr. Patrick McCrea, surgeon, took over her case and with the guidance and expertise of Radiologist Dr. Doug Neilson and the CT Scanner, a scope was used to remove the abscess and a tube inserted that remained for a few weeks to allow for drainage.

“Everyone was so sweet!” says Jenny. “Dr. Neilson’s Scottish accent was so comforting, like Shrek’s”, — Jenny was famed Fiona in the Shrek theatre production put on by Colonel Gray High School in the spring.

“Everyone treated me like an adult, not like a child and only explaining to my parents what was happening,” recalls Jenny. However, at 16, the staff instinctively knew this was one of the scariest experiences I’ve been through and when my procedure was done, the technician put a teddy bear on my bed – it was so comforting.  I was also moved to the Pediatric Unit.  I thought I didn’t want or need my parents to stay overnight, but as visiting hours came to a close, I realized I didn’t want to stay alone. “The patient bedside chairs that fold-out into cots were amazing.” With her dad Steve as a Board member of the QEH Foundation, they were aware that even those fold-out chairs for patient care and comfort were a result of donor support.

 “I sure gained a new appreciation for all that the nurses do! They were so good, they made it so much more manageable, they cared so much.”

Dr. McCrea knew further investigation was required, and upon further procedures in the hospital’s state-of-the-art endoscopy suite using colonoscopes and gastroscopes, Jenny was diagnosed with Crohn’s – almost a sigh of relief knowing what the source of the problem was.