It isn’t every day that a regional health care provider has the opportunity to develop a new and innovative orthopedic surgical program aimed at reducing hospital stay times and increasing patient care, but that’s exactly what the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital (TDMH) is doing after hiring a full-time orthopedic surgeon to provide ambulatory orthopedic care earlier in the year.
“We started by partnering with the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) to open a satellite orthopedics program at TDMH. Once we understood the tremendous demand for this service in our own community, we were fortunate to recruit a young, full-time orthopedic surgeon who had just finished his fellowship at LHSC and wanted to work in a rural community,” explains the hospital’s president and CEO Sandy Jansen, who joined the hospital’s leadership team in 2017.
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“Subsequent to that, because we now have orthopedics in-house, we were provided the opportunity by Ontario Health to develop a same day joint replacement program, which is very exciting and innovative for such a small community hospital.”
In addition to being forward thinking, the program would make it possible for members of the community to have their orthopedic surgeries — anticipated to include hip and knee replacements in the near future — done locally at the TDMH in one day, instead of travelling to London for the same procedure that often requires several days of in-hospital stay.
“Currently, if an elderly member of the community falls and breaks a bone they have to travel to outside of our community, often alone because of COVID, for surgery,” Jansen says.
“As a small community hospital that serves a very broad geography and whose goal it is to ensure that we’re supporting the health of our communities, this new program would go a long way in keeping healthcare close to home.”
Like all major developments, the program requires hefty financial investments in addition to the usual fundraising the hospital foundation does for medical equipment.
Since 1984, generous community contributions have allowed the TDMH Foundation to provide $10,242,000 to the hospital for the purchase of necessary medical equipment, which, this year, includes: a defibrillator, two colonoscopes, a glidescope and an intensive care unit (ICU) bed that comes at a total cost of $173,000 — and is in addition to the needs created by the new orthopedic surgical program.
“On the fundraising side of things, the challenge is that we normally raise a considerable amount of money from donors and haven’t been able to have the usual face to face conversations that lead to those bigger gifts,” explains the TDMH Foundation’s new Executive Director, Gerry Dearing.
“The golf tournament that raises around $35,000 was cancelled for the last two years, as were all of the other events and dinners that usually lead to an additional $50,000 in donations to support the hospital, which is a $100,000 loss.”
But Dearing, like Jansen, isn’t discouraged by the challenges.
Instead, the new executive director has been revisiting more traditional ways of fundraising, including the yearly Angels of Giving campaign, a bi-annual mailer and an ongoing 50/50 draw, to help get the community behind the hospital foundation.
“Once the community knows what we need, they’re very generous and supportive; it’s just really challenging during this time to communicate with people,” he says.
“Despite that, we recently had one donor express his interest in purchasing the GE Digital Mobile ERGO C-Arm, which is a $209,000 piece of equipment that is designed for surgical settings and enables patients to be x-rayed during surgery, in the operating room.”
In addition to the C-Arm, the equipment required for the orthopedic surgical program being planned for next year includes orthopedic instruments at a cost of $157,000, power equipment that costs $185,000, arthroscopic and video equipment for $54,000, a bed extension and arm extension for $12,000, a hip/knee bed positioning device for $95,000 and, finally, several washers/disinfectors for $271,000, for a total cost of $774,000.
“We were looking at planning an event in early October but, being in the fourth wave, we don’t want to jeopardize public health,” Dearing says.
“Our new monthly 50/50 draw is a great opportunity for the community to win big and support the future of healthcare in Tillsonburg and surrounding areas until we can have another outdoor event next year, during the spring.”
100 tickets cost $30, 40 tickets cost $20, and 10 tickets cost $10. To purchase your 50/50 draw tickets, visit tillsonburghospital5050.ca .
For more information about the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital or to donate to the hospital foundation, visit tillsonburghospital.on.ca .
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital.