On December 17, 2014, Heather Topps was admitted to the Emergency Department with abdominal pain. Diagnosed with appendicitis, she was scheduled for surgery.
The past year and a half had been tough for Heather and her partner Nancy. Heather was diagnosed with colon cancer. She spent eight weeks in hospital, suffering complications from radiation and chemotherapy. Throughout the following year Heather suffered from further complications including a blood clot, a hernia, inflammation of the lung lining and finally, appendicitis.
Understanding that Heather was going to undergo yet another surgery was overwhelming and emotionally turbulent. Both Heather and Nancy were physically and emotionally exhausted, attempting to confront each issue with renewed bravery and optimism.
Nancy arrived at the hospital after Heather’s surgery. From the beginning, she knew something was different about Heather’s nurse.
“Julie introduced herself immediately,” says Nancy. “It means a lot, knowing the name of the person caring for you,” adds Heather. “She then elaborately laid out a plan for the care she would provide for the rest of the day,” says Heather. “I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes, knowing what to expect.”
What she did next is perhaps what made the most difference.
“Julie explained she would be back between 10:00 and 10:30am to change Heather’s dressing check her wound and provide any other care she might need at that time,” Nancy says. “She asked Heather if that was a good time for her. By her tone and the way she asked the question, I knew she meant it. I can’t tell you how empowering that was: to have an option.”
Whether she was taking the time to ensure the IV was set up as painlessly as possible or simply checking in with Heather, Julie’s care instilled a sense of dignity and empowerment. Something the two women won’t forget.
“I wanted Julie to know how much we appreciated her care, particularly after the year we’ve had.”
Heather and Nancy made a ‘Grateful Family Donation,’ honouring Julie with a Golden Heart Award for her excellent service. This award is on Julie’s permanent file in Human Resources and will be reviewed by the Board of Directors.
For more information on how to honour someone with a Golden Heart Award contact the NBRHC Foundation at 705-495-8125.
Learn more about this program in the Grateful Family Brochure.