Spirit of Giving


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We will beat cancer. We will be strong like you.

Jenn Allaert, rider in the Sears National Kids Cancer RideThe Sears National Kids Cancer Ride is one of the biggest and most ambitious charity cycling events on behalf of childhood cancer in the world. Jenn Allaert from Moncton, New Brunswick, shares why she’s riding across Canada to improve the quality of life for children, and their families, living with and beyond cancer.

20 years ago I watched my mom getting sick. No one knew why and answers were hard to come by. A year later her brain tumor was remove a month to the day after my 16th birthday. The relief was brief, 3 months later my Nona was diagnosed with brain cancer. The out come not in our favour this time, her presence left us 4 months later. Life was definitely not fun that year…it was far from a sweet 16.

Now that I’m a mom I know what the meaning of giving everything for you kids is. A fighting chance to be a kid. I will fight for them and fight for all the kids. I now have the reason I’m riding with me forever…it will never be forgotten.

My life changed when I was asked to be the massage therapist of the 2008 & 2009 SNKCR riders. I really had no idea how much that experience would have on my life or even the big realization of why I was doing it. I strongly believe that this is bigger than me; it’s something I have to do. I do it because I can, because I have 3 beautiful children and I can’t image my life without them. I can’t image waking up one day and someone telling me that my kids have caner. These are the words no parent should ever have to hear.

Many of my adult family members have lost their battle with cancer. It was so hard to watch their changes in health from all the countless treatments. And within my massage practice I see the emotional and physical impact cancer has on it’s survivors and think that no child should ever have to experience that. All children need to have positive touch experiences in their life and none should come from countless needle pokes and invasive treatments.

Everyday I carry the words I heard form a little girl with cancer “Mommy don’t be sad, it’s not that bad I only have cancer.” It was so heartbreaking to hear these words because the children with cancer are living adult lives…not the life of a child

So here is to all the kids out there. We will beat cancer. We will be strong like you. And you’re never alone; we’re with you until the end. You’re forever in my heart!!!

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May is LEAVE A LEGACY™ month!

May is LEAVE A LEGACY™  month! Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned gifts, shares her personal connection to the IWK Health Centre and the important roll that planned gifts make to patients at the IWK. 

If you have visited the IWK Health Centre with a sick child or loved one, you truly understand the passion and conviction of IWK staff members who teach, encourage and challenge patients and their families to thrive no matter what the illness or disease.  Prior to working at the IWK Foundation, I was a Foundation volunteer for 21 years.  However, my personal journey with the IWK actually began 30 years ago, when I walked into that foreign concrete building for the first time, not as an employee or volunteer, but as the mother of a child with a serious illness.  At that moment, I had no idea that the doctors, nurses, patients and events that happened within those four walls would shape me into the person that I have become today.

Leave a legacy to the IWK in your Will

Jody with her son, Cameron.

My true passion for the IWK stems from the time that my family and I spent at the Health Centre all those years ago. Over the course of an eleven-year period, my daughter, Jody, spent five years and three months as an inpatient. This is not including the additional six and a half months that Jody spent as an inpatient on the women’s side when she found herself in critical condition while pregnant with my beautiful grandson, Cameron.  Cameron and Jody would not be here today without the doctors and nurses who fought valiantly to save both of their lives.

This is just one IWK story. And to me, the most rewarding part of my personal and professional journey with the IWK has been meeting other individuals and families who have shared their stories of hope and encouragement.  Although often overwhelming, these stories have the power to move you in profound and unexpected ways, no matter what the outcome. Maritime families recognize the IWK as a centre of excellence and believe whole-heartedly that they have received the best possible care.  This is why I am a donor.  And this is why I have left a gift to the IWK Foundation in my estate plans.

In my current role as the Manager, Personal and Planned Gifts at the IWK Foundation, I have been fortunate to witness first-hand how our donors and families are giving back to the IWK and the impact that their generosity continues to have on patient care at the Health Centre.  Estate gifts to the IWK help sustain excellence in specialized care including neonatal and pediatric intensive care, women’s health, and mental health services for children and youth.  Funds also support world-renowned research studies, capital investments, and the purchase of world-class technology and state-of-the-art equipment.  Gifts made through estate planning keep us strong, motivated and inspired not only today but well into the future.

This is why I need you to please consider joining me today.  Your estate gift, no matter what the size, will help children like Jody and make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of families like mine.  Help us ensure that the IWK’s tradition of excellence will live on by leaving a legacy for future generations.

Excellence is in your hands.  

Learn more about leaving a planned gift to the IWK Foundation.


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Leaving a Gift for Tomorrow

Mary Theresa Ross is the Manager of  Personal & Planned Gifts with the IWK Health Centre Foundation. If you have any questions, or would like further information on how to make a planned gift to the IWK Foundation, please call Mary Theresa at 902-470-8240.

Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned Gifts

Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned Gifts

Each of us possesses the power to provide a lasting legacy to charitable causes we feel are important. A gift in your will not only provides tremendous personal satisfaction , but allows the IWK to plan for future projects with greater certainty and use donations to greater effect.

For me, working at the IWK Foundation is so much more than a career, it is my absolute passion. I believe in the need because I’ve seen it first hand. My daughter, Jody, spent more than four and half years as an inpatient being treated at the Health Centre.

I used to reflect on what it would be like for Maritime Families if the IWK was not here. A gift in a Will helps the Foundation with the security of knowing the funds are in place to allow us to continue to grow and provide care for future generations. It helps ensure the future will be stronger. Your planning is a part of how we help families.

Here is the top 10 things you can do today to leave a gift in your will to your favourite charitable cause.

Sincerely, Mary Theresa Ross, IWK Health Centre Foundation

Top 10 Things You Can Do Today to Leave a Legacy

1.) Prepare a will.

2.) Leave a gift in your will for the not-for-profit organization that makes a difference in your life.

3.) Leave a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your assets to a not-for-profit organization.

4.) Consider using assets for your legacy gift.

5.) Name a not-for-profit as a beneficiary of your RRSP, RRIF or pension plan.

6.) Name your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy.

7.) Purchase a new life insurance policy naming your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary.

8.) Remember loved ones with memorial gifts.

9.) Encourage family and friends to leave gifts to not-for-profit in their wills.

10.) Ask your financial or estate planning advisor to include charitable giving as part of your financial plan and to incorporate in their counsel to other clients.

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation. 


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The Golden Hour.

Jennifer Jollymore is a registered nurse in the Birthing Unit at the IWK Health Centre – a leading centre of excellence that provides quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritime provinces and beyond. 

A mother holds her new born child.

A mother holds her newborn child.

I’m sometimes amazed at how much change I’ve witnessed with regards to skin-to-skin contact (SSC) in the four short years since I graduated nursing school and began my career at the IWK Health Centre as a Birth Unit nurse. Not that long ago, it was still common practice for babies to be delivered and immediately transferred to the resuscitation area, whether they were at risk of needing resuscitation or not. The baby would be dried and then swaddled with blankets before being brought back to the parents for cuddles.

Sometimes, any number of interventions could take place between delivery and cuddles with mom and dad. Weighing, measuring, eye ointment, vitamin K injection, newborn head-to-toe assessments are all tasks that could have occurred prior to a new mother holding her just born baby for the first time.

Fast forward four years. Today on the Birth Unit, when there is a normal, uncomplicated delivery, babies are dried on mom’s chest, immediately placed skin-to-skin and left there uninterrupted for their first hour after birth. We like to call it the “Golden Hour.” During this hour, most assessments and procedures can be done while the baby is skin-to-skin with mom or with dad (if mom is unavailable or unwell).

The research behind skin-to-skin contact is abundant. We know that skin-to- skin facilitates newborn transition to life on the outside, stabilizing their temperature, blood sugar level and breathing. Skin-to-skin contact also prepares babies to initiate feeding.

It’s easy to observe and record all of the measurable advantages SSC offers such as those mentioned above. What is sometimes less obvious though are the bonding and attachment behaviors SSC promotes. In January 2013, we had the opportunity to follow-up with several families who had had a Golden Hour after their delivery. Mothers were contacted a couple of weeks after they went home from the IWK. When asked about their parenting experience to date, amazingly, all of the mothers talked about their skin-to-skin with their infant.

“What was best was that she got my smell right after birth – nestled right in after birth and stopped crying. It would not have been the same without that opportunity. It was much better for her (baby) and I fell in love right away,” said one mom about her experience.

There are so many benefits of skin-to -skin contact beyond the initial transition in the first hour of life and too many to go into detail about here. However, as the research has emerged highlighting the importance of SSC for newborns and parents at delivery, this is a practice that I’m proud to report is now routine at the IWK.

Learn more about skin-to-skin contact.


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Made-to-Order Independence

This article was written by Debra Wells-Hopey for the Spring/Summer issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre.

11-year-old Taya and occupational therapist Julia Gates

11-year-old Taya and occupational therapist Julia Gates

How a customized wheelchair program provides quality of life for hundreds of kids.

Taya is spirited, bright and patient as she describes the way she gets around in the world.

“When I move my head left, I turn left,” she says enthusiastically, even though she must have explained this to people many times over. “When I move my head right, I go right. And when I move my head back, I go straight forward.”

At 11 years-old, Taya has Cerebral Palsy and is a long time visitor to IWK Specialty Seating, a service within the IWK’s Rehabilitation Service. The service offers assessment and provision of customized seating and positioning equipment, including seating inserts, wheelchairs, special-needs strollers, bath seats, car seats and toileting aids.

Julia Gates, Occupational Therapist in Specialty Seating, and Nancy Cashen, Operations Manager for Rehabilitation Services, have known Taya since she was three years old. “This program is designed to assist children who can’t walk on their own, most often due to Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy or Cerebral Palsy,” explained Gates. “Children are referred to the program as early as 14 months and stay with us until they are ready to transition to adult health care.”

Gates explained that although children this young are able to still use a stroller, it means they are dependent on others to get around — at an age when they want to start exploring the world on their own.

“Independence is an essential part in a child’s growth and development,” added Cashen.

Specialty Seating at the IWK consists of Cashen and Gates, as well as a Specialty Seating Technician, David Beattie, and a Funding Coordinator. Together, along with the family, this team determines what kind of wheelchair would be best for the child.

“We take many factors into account,” says Gates. “For instance, a level of hand mobility is essential for maneuvering a manual wheelchair, but not necessary for a power wheelchair.”

The amount of seating support required is a complex assessment that is completed by the occupational therapist and takes into account the disease prognosis, planned orthopaedic surgeries, maintenance of skin integrity, comfort, functional abilities and wheelchair skills. All children are different, and the amount of support required could be viewed as mild, moderate, or complex. Generally, seating for a mild support is not custom made, and may be arranged through a local wheelchair supplier in the community. The seating for children who require moderate or complex support is custom made by the Specialty Seating Service at the IWK.

There is a workshop onsite at the IWK where Beattie employs his expertise. For specialized seating, an impression is made on a mould that resembles a large bean bag. This shape can then be transferred to a 3D digital model on the computer. These images are sent via email to the United States where the only machine of its kind in North America manufactures the seat. It is then shipped to the IWK for fitting.

As for Beattie, he has been with the hospital since 1989. He was familiar with an Occupational Therapist who suggested he may enjoy the work. Considering Beattie has remained in the program for more than 24 years, it certainly is a great fit.

“This is the perfect job as far as I’m concerned,” says Beattie. “I get to work with my hands and help people simultaneously. The work is challenging and rewarding.”

Beattie’s workshop looks much like any other, yet very unlike anything you expect to see in a hospital. There are various materials stored: pieces of repurposed wheelchairs, three industrial-sized sewing machines, neoprene for upholstering, two band saws, a table saw and a wealth of tools.

“When we first see someone we measure them for a seat using a fitting frame. From these measurements I construct a seat out of foam and plywood and I upholster it. I also adjust and repair wheelchairs as needed. I’d say one of my favourite parts of my job is going on the mobile clinics. Several times a year we go to Cape Breton and the Annapolis Valley. At times we go to schools here in HRM, or even homes.”

Gates explained that the first order of business when a child needs a wheelchair or seating device is to meet with the family and get to know their needs.

“This initial meeting is so important,” says Gates. “It’s when we first get to meet the child; establishing their needs, administering a postural assessment, taking measurements, then making recommendations.”

“Recently we had a child who needed a new power wheelchair. We had two styles and tried them both in the home to see which operated better in that specific environment. It needs to work in the child’s daily life.”

Having the right wheelchair and seating can make all the difference in the world when it comes to quality of life — kids need to participate with classmates, explore their environment and have a sense of independence.

“When a child receives their first wheelchair it is often a period of growth for both the parents and the child,” says Gates.

Taya’s mother Christine knows all about it. She has been taking Taya to Specialty Seating and working with the team for eight years. Taya was only three when she received her first wheelchair and met the group at Specialty Seating. She was outgrowing a stroller at this point, not only in a physical way but also as a growing child her needs were changing — she had a desire to be independent, to be able to explore the world on her own.

“Although she was small enough to still use the stroller, it no longer seemed to be the appropriate choice,”explained her mom. “The chair was so much better for her

Izaak#Provincial#05-02-2013#A01posture, and allowed her to be eye level with her peers. Her diaphragm was also better supported which made her breathing and therefore her speaking so much better.”

Taya was born with cerebral palsy. She enjoys her grade five class and likes to read — especially Harry Potter books. She also swims and uses a sit ski at Wentworth ski hill.

“I have both a manual and a power chair,” explained Taya. “I use the power chair at school. Some places are easier to use a wheelchair in than others though.”

Although Taya drives herself around by using head movements, the wheelchair must be steered remotely by a device similar to a joystick when it is being loaded into the family van. Apparently, according to a laughing Taya, dad is an expert at it, while mom, who is quick to agree, isn’t as deft.

Taya was eight when she got her first power chair. She started at six years old “training” with a joy stick, but it was a lot of work and a head array began to make more sense. The family visits Specialty Seating about once a year.

“To a certain extent, the chairs grow with her. Especially the manual chair, which she will have for about eight years,” explains Christine. “The power chair needs changes or replacing more frequently.”

As for cost, the family is fortunate that both Christine and her husband have good health care plans, however, they still certainly incur costs. The head array alone cost $10,000, which is as much as the chair. Then there are the costs of converting the family van with a manual ramp that has to be lifted and unfolded. A power system is even more expensive. This is the reality for families with a wheelchair. Taya gets to continue to visit the team at Specialty Seating until she is ready to transition to adult health care.

“I can’t say enough about the program and the staff,” says Christine. “When your child is first diagnosed, you’re in a daze. You don’t know where to go or what to do. They have helped us immensely, even in emergency situations.”

One such situation was during a weekend when Taya’s chair was accidentally run over, crushing one of the wheels. It meant facing a whole weekend propped up or in bed. Not a great thought for a young, energetic girl like Taya. Christine contacted Gates and Beattie who were more than willing to go into work on a Saturday to get the chair fixed. Says Taya, “Dave and Julia are extremely nice people and I would come to them all my life if I could.”

And there’s no higher praise than that.

To read the full issue of Izaak magazine visit www.iwkfoundation.org/izaak

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.


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Breathing Space

This article was written by Tom Mason for the Spring/Summer issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre.Dr. Laine Johnson brings highly-specialized airway reconstruction surgery to the IWK

Larkin looks at the plastic fish and bubbles

Larkin looks at the plastic fish and bubbles

Larkin Pottle was born four years ago with tracheomalacia, bronchomalacia, and subglottic stenosis of her trachea — conditions that severely restricted her ability to breathe on her own. Her parents, Rhonda and Brent Pottle, struggled with the tracheotomy that allowed her to survive the process. As she grew, breathing on her own started to look

Like a possibility; surgery to allow this to happen was the next step for the Pottle family. Tracheotomies are one of the most vital surgical procedures in modern medicine, but they are actually very old. The surgery is depicted on Egyptian artifacts more than 5,000 years old and described in Sanskrit texts from around 2,000 BC. A tracheotomy involves placing a tube through an incision in the neck to bypass the nose and mouth and allow air directly into the trachea. Every year they save countless lives; but for most young children who have undergone the procedure,

a normal life doesn’t begin until the tube has been successfully removed. That can prove to be difficult.

Dr. Liane Johnson uses a scope to view Larkin's airway.

Dr. Liane Johnson uses a scope to view Larkin’s airway.

That’s where Dr. Liane Johnson comes in. Dr. Johnson is a pediatric airway surgeon at the IWK, the only doctor in Atlantic Canada to perform a specialized form of airway reconstruction surgery in children. The innovative technique involves using the child’s own rib cartilage to expand the scarred airway to attempt to achieve a normal diameter airway (air passage). Because the technique relies on tissue from the child’s own body, there are no issues with rejection.

Dr. Johnson learned the complex procedure during a two-year fellowship at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center under world-renowned pediatric otolaryngologist Dr. Robin Cotton, who pioneered the technique 30 years ago. She has already performed about 20 of the surgeries at the IWK. She says the procedure offers the patient and family a degree of independence that is life-changing.

“With proper patient selection, they can be very successful surgeries,” she says. “It’s rewarding to see the results.”

Larkin Pottle’s conditions were serious and because she needed constant medical care, Larkin could never be left alone. This left her family with the task of learning how to take care of her properly at home. Any kind of mucus plug or blockage of the tracheostomy tube could also be disastrous. It was a 24-hour-a-day job for Rhonda and Brent,

one that required plenty of professional help. “We had to get professional respite care at night so that we could get some sleep,” says Rhonda.

Rhonda Pottle cuddles her daughter Larkin Pottle as they wait for Larkin's appointment at the IWK.

Rhonda Pottle cuddles her daughter Larkin Pottle as they wait for Larkin’s appointment at the IWK.

Along with the basic skills that every new mother learns — feeding Larkin and changing her diapers — Rhonda quickly became adept at a number of medical techniques, including suctioning a tracheotomy tube and performing mouth to trach resuscitation. If Larkin accidentally removed the tracheostomy tube, the Larkin family had to be prepared to perform CPR.

“It’s not that difficult. Anyone can learn to do it as long as they’re not afraid of it,” says Rhonda. Larkin was approaching her second birthday when doctors discovered she was breathing through her nose and mouth around the tracheotomy tube. It was good news. It meant the airway was growing and the problem was correcting itself. But scar tissue had formed, and Larkin’s airway needed to be repaired before the incision in her trachea could be permanently closed.

This picture was taken at the level of the vocal cords showing complete obstruction of the subglottic airway, just beyond the vocal cords.

This picture was taken at the level of the vocal cords showing complete obstruction of the subglottic airway, just beyond the vocal cords.

Rhonda began the search for a doctor who could do the surgery. She and her husband had already made plans to travel from their Stephenville, Newfoundland home to Cincinnati to meet with Dr. Cotton when they heard about the IWK program. “I heard there was a doctor in Halifax who had studied with Dr. Cotton and was using the same procedure.” The Pottle’s first visit to Halifax was a little disappointing. Dr. Johnson examined Larkin and told the family to come back in three months for reassessment as it was

too soon for the operation. “That’s the hardest thing to say to parents: ‘She’s not ready,’” says Dr. Johnson. “But if you do the surgery too early the consequences can be devastating. The last thing I want to do is set up a spiral of failure. Sometimes it’s just safer to wait.”

This picture was taken just below the vocal cords showing a completely open subglottic airway following placement of rib grafts.

This picture was taken just below the vocal cords showing a completely open subglottic airway following placement of rib grafts.

When the day finally came, it was a long one. The Pottles spent eight hours waiting for Larkin’s surgery to end. Dr. Johnson constructed two rib grafts to expand the damaged airway, placing them carefully in the trachea below the little girl’s voice box. When it was over she was sedated and ventilated in the intensive care unit for nine days, but after stent removal she was soon breathing on her own. It was a success.

There have already been many milestones for the Pottle family. Larkin had a bout of the flu during the winter – a normal rite of passage for most four-year-olds, but one that would have brought on a serious medical crisis before the surgery. This time it was no big deal, says Rhonda. The family left for a Florida vacation in March, the first family trip since Larkin was born that didn’t centre around a medical appointment. Most importantly, Larkin is gaining a measure of independence that she didn’t have before. She’s getting ready to attend preschool and is making friends her own age for the first time. “She loves other kids,” says Rhonda. “Finally she can be a kid herself.”

To read the full issue of Izaak magazine visit www.iwkfoundation.org/izaak

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.


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Generosity Rocks!

Thank You Bedford Masonic Lodge 104 and the Masonic Foundation of Nova Scotia!

This past weekend was a busy one for the IWK and the IWK Foundation, but only one event brought the crowd to their (dancing) feet. The Bedford Masonic Lodge 104 held Free Bird, a rockin’ benefit concert in support of Mental Health Awareness, at the Lower Deck Bar & Grill on May 26. This event benefited several mental health organizations, including the IWK Health Centre.

The incredible generosity of the Masonic Lodge did not stop there; the Masonic Foundation of Nova Scotia recently announced they will be donating $10,000 to mental health care at the IWK! Their donation will go a very long way to changing lives through excellence in care.

Events like Free Bird not only raise much-needed funds, they also bring our community together to create an open dialogue on mental health. This is a conversation that must keep going! One of the Health Centre’s goals is to remove the stigma that exists around mental illness, and the more we all talk about it and share our experiences, the faster we will move toward positive change.

The crowd at Free Bird was treated to concerts by local bands who played everything  from rock to swing-influenced tunes. Bands included: Loose Ends, Swingology, Remedy, Memphis Nights, and The Take It Easy Band. A silent auction and 50/50 draws rounded out the event perfectly.

We are so grateful to the Bedford Masonic Lodge 104 and the Masonic Foundation of Nova Scotia for their generosity and for including us as a beneficiary of this unique event – and to the community as a whole for attending and supporting this very important cause.  Your contribution will surely change lives; together, we really can make a difference.

Swingology

Swingology had people up and dancing the night away!

Loose Ends at Free Bird

Loose Ends rocking the stage!