Athwal family’s story
Harbhajan Singh Athwal’s children admire their father’s commitment to his friends, family, and his faith. But when the 65-year-old family patriarch passed away from COVID-19 in March 2021, the number of stories others shared of his generosity and kindness surprised even his family. And amid the intense grief, the family knew they wanted to give back to honour his memory and thank the healthcare team at Royal Columbian Hospital.
If the priority in 2020 was to bend the curve, the focus in 2021 was to get shots into arms. Dr. Carolyn Shiau was on the frontline of the monumental task of distributing COVID-19 vaccines to as many British Columbians as possible.
Marisa Sitter’s story
It started with mild flu-like symptoms, and Marisa Sitter was surprised that her COVID-19 test came back positive. Over the next few days, the Coquitlam resident’s condition progressively grew worse. In addition to a fever, she was getting dizzy, weak, and eventually had difficulty breathing. Feeling like she was drowning, Marisa made her way to Royal Columbian Hospital, where she spent close to a week in the care of a team that has looked after hundreds of COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic.
Mental health and the pandemic
Even if you allow yourself permission to imagine a return to pre-pandemic life, the complete story of COVID-19’s toll on society will likely not emerge for a while still. This includes the full effect on our mental health stemming from the anxiety, fear, isolation, financial hardship, and other stressors felt by many since early 2020.
Tips to Prevent An Unexpected Hospital Trip
As a trauma physician at Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) — one of the busiest trauma units in Canada — I see preventable tragedies every day. Education and awareness around the most common injuries and accidents and how to prevent them will keep everyone safe and ensure our frontline healthcare workers have the resources they need to save vulnerable lives.
From tests to vaccines: the lab’s role in a pandemic
The importance of testing to confirm COVID-19 infections has drawn new attention to the role of our healthcare labs. At Royal Columbian Hospital, the lab has a long history that goes back more than 100 years. Nowadays, with more than 5-million tests performed a year and with the generous support of donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, the hospital’s Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Department helps in over 80-percent of medical diagnoses. And that was before the pandemic struck.
Planning for a pandemic
Pandemics and infection control measures have long been on the radar of healthcare planners. Previous international outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, have made the topic a key consideration in the design of hospitals, including Royal Columbian Hospital’s current $1.49 billion redevelopment.
Roger Pinette’s story
Roger Pinette had been feeling unwell for a few days, struggling with a bad cough, headaches, a fever, and fatigue. They are the type of symptoms that have come to be associated with COVID-19, but back in early March 2020 it was not yet front and centre in people’s minds. It would be several weeks before the 72-year-old Langley resident would learn he had contracted a near fatal case of the respiratory illness, only hearing the news after he had awoken from a lengthy stay in Royal Columbian Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
Vince Li’s Story
26-year-old Vince Li had been battling a fever for several days in March 2020 when he made his way to the hospital in Burnaby. The results of an X-ray and blood test revealed tell-tale signs of COVID-19. Doctors decided to immediately sedate, intubate, and send the young man to Royal Columbian Hospital, one of the province’s primary COVID-19 sites. There, he became the youngest COVID-positive patient to be mechanically ventilated in the hospital’s intensive care unit during the pandemic’s spring peak.