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The gift of a first step

Man smiling in a hospital bed.

After months of intense treatment, a medically-induced coma and rehabilitation, Martin Picotte took his first steps in December 2023 with the help of a Patient Lift at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH).

“The feeling of standing again brought a huge smile to my face,” says Martin. “It just helped me so much. I was smiling and my legs were moving – not very well – but I was able to walk!”  To see Martin’s first steps with the Patient Lift, click here.

The Patient Lift was purchased with funds donated through the GBGH Foundation, and it allows patients to begin their rehabilitation therapy before they are medically cleared to bear any weight.

In September 2023, Martin was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder caused by a virus where the body’s immune system damages nerves, causing muscle weakness and, in Martin’s case, paralysis. He began feeling miserable when he first woke up, and by the time the ambulance arrived, his condition had deteriorated quickly.

Martin spent a total of nine and a half months in hospital, mostly at GBGH, and a significant amount of time on the rehabilitation unit. From near total paralysis at the beginning, to ambulating around the unit with a walker, Martin credits the team for helping him.

“I’m so grateful for the therapy team and the nurses [at GBGH] who have become like family,” said Martin. “We joke and laugh, and they go out of their way to help, no questions asked. And, thank you to all those people who donated to help purchase the lift. It helped me and I know it will help a lot of other people too.”

To learn more about making a gift to honour a GBGH team member, visit

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