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Your Stories

Your Stories

When Jennifer Pauzé arrived at the Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) Emergency Room in June 2019, she had been struggling with debilitating stomach pain on and off for nearly six years.

She’d had numerous ultrasounds and tests, resulting in various diagnoses, including Celiac Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  But no change in diet or treatment seemed to help.

She was in constant, unrelenting pain. 

Jennifer, a young mom of three, had lost 40lbs within a month because she couldn’t keep anything down and she was so sick that she often curled up on the bathroom floor unable to move.

“I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stand, walk or even lie down. I remember telling my husband that I felt like I was dying.”

In the Emergency Department, Jennifer was seen by Dr. Vik Ralhan who immediately sent her for a CT scan, which showed that there was a large blockage in her bowels. The blockage was very alarming, and Dr. Ralhan referred Jennifer to me for emergency abdominal surgery.

During Jennifer’s surgery, a shocking discovery was made.

“Dr. Sacks (my surgeon) was not expecting to see what she did. I had colon cancer,” says Jennifer. “Dr. Sacks removed the mass and 40 of my lymph nodes which thankfully all came back negative. Amazingly, my body had built such a large callus around the mass trying to protect itself, that the cancer hadn’t spread.”  

Today, Jennifer has made a full recovery and she is incredibly grateful to have her life back. Just like we’re thankful to caring donors like you for so generously supporting our hospital and community.

As a physician on the front lines at GBGH, I can tell you first hand that the impact of your giving is undeniable. Which is why I wanted to write to you today to thank you for your generosity and ask you to please renew your much-needed support to help fund urgently needed equipment, expand critical programs and help make more life-saving stories like Jennifer’s possible. 

Thanks to caring donors like you who helped purchase a new CT scanner, operating table, surgical tower, hospital beds, stretchers and countless other pieces of equipment, Jennifer received the lifesaving diagnosis, surgery and treatment she needed, when she needed it, to finally get her life back and be the happy, healthy mom she wanted to be.

“The care and surgery that I had at GBGH literally saved my life,” says Jennifer.

“I am 100% grateful. GBGH gave me back my life. Now instead of being sick on the couch or lying on the bathroom floor, I can swim and dance with my kids. Take them places and do all the things I couldn’t do before, traveling and spending time as a family.”

Once again, thank you for your generosity and commitment to care. As Jennifer’s story shows, your giving is not only improving, but saving lives and for that and many other reasons, we are deeply grateful to have you by our side.

With heartfelt thanks,

Dr. Eileen Sacks M.D., FRCSC, FACS
General Surgeon
Georgian Bay General Hospital

Ultrasound is a simple, non-invasive and radiation-free technology which provides a wealth of information about internal organs, tissues and vessels. Although commonly known for  pregnancy scans, it also provides important diagnosis for gall stones, appendicitis, cancer and so much more.

At 33 weeks pregnant with her son Travis, Blair Manock visited Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) for a scheduled ultrasound, never expecting any issues.  Aside from gestational diabetes, she had a fairly normal pregnancy.

“Everything was going great,” says Blair. “As my pregnancy progressed, we were a little concerned about the size of the baby due to my diabetes, so Dr. Gaffney sent me for an ultrasound at 33 weeks just to be sure. THAT is when they found an issue with Travis’ heart.”

In most cases, heart conditions are identified at the 20 week anatomy scan, however, for Blair, her anatomy scan was done at a clinic outside of the hospital and the issues were not discovered. When GBGH sonographer Jolanda identified the abnormality on the scan, she immediately informed Blair’s physician. Although the ultrasound at GBGH detected the abnormality, Dr. Gaffney sent Blair to North York General Hospital for an ultrasound with better image quality, so that she could be referred to a fetal cardiologist.

“We went to see Dr. Beaulieu and the news was not good,” says Blair. “We were told that Travis had many heart defects and would likely require open heart surgery right away to help him survive.”

Travis was born on July 19th, 2018 at Mount Sinai Health Centre in Toronto, 3 weeks before his due date. Blair had a scheduled cesarean section, and Travis was immediately taken to Sick Kids Hospital, where he had a multitude of ultrasounds, echocardiograms and other tests before undergoing open heart surgery at just 5 days old. Although the recovery was incredibly hard,

Travis proved he was a fighter and came home to his family in Penetanguishene on September 5th, at 7 weeks old.  Following a second surgery at 6 months of age, Travis is now thriving. He will still require at least one more surgery as a child, but until that time, the family is thankful he is healthy and they can enjoy their time together.

“Our whole family is so grateful to the ultrasound technician at GBGH for being so good at her job and noticing the heart defect,” says Blair. “She discovered a massive medical issue that we would not have known about until after birth and the outcome of this could have been so different and tragic. We are forever thankful and so lucky.”

A machine that looks like a tablet with a screen but has a lot of buttons on the base instead of a keyboardAt GBGH, ultrasound technology is a critical tool for assessment and diagnosis. Nearly 200  ultrasounds are performed each week on one of the three ultrasound units, however the units range from 7-13 years old. New ultrasound technology offers vastly greater image quality, with smaller, lighter probes and much more efficient functionality. For the most precise exams, new machines provide high definition imaging for structures in the body as small as 1mm, such as the heart valves of a tiny baby inside its mother’s womb.

“Unfortunately, our outdated ultrasound equipment does not come close to the resolution we require for such small measurements,” says Jolanda Winlove-Smith, sonographer at GBGH. “We are imaging the most precious beings for expectant parents, and we need to be able to provide the clearest images to our physicians for assessment and diagnosis.”

This year, GBGH has prioritized the purchase of a new ultrasound to replace a 13-year old machine that no longer supports for software updates and replacement parts. The new ultrasound will cost approximately $220,000, and because equipment is not funded by the government, the hospital relies on the community to fund the purchase through the GBGH Foundation.


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