Heather Phaneuf wanted to thank the professional teamwork and compassionate care she received during a stressful period linking knee surgery and a COVID-19 diagnosis by presenting the team with Guardian Angels Pins.

“My primary Guardian Angel – for this terrific team effort – is Physiotherapist Vicki James-Lafleur who has not only provided an excellent rehabilitation program but also linked me up with those other professionals at AGH who helped me through when dealing with a parallel COVID-19 reality. Those other Guardian Angels are part of the COVID Care Clinic team: Dr. Champagne (Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital), Robin Soule RPN, Cheryl Moore, and Morgan Cann; and finally, Dr. Tiffany (Almonte General Hospital).

So, what’s my story? In March 2020, I was going through pre-op in Ottawa for a long-awaited knee replacement at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital. Between scheduled visits, the flat screen above me in the waiting room was showing newsfeed about COVID cases growing and WHO talking about a possible pandemic. The next day, the pandemic was declared, our collective world changed in so many ways, and I, along with many others waiting elective surgeries, would be put on hold.

Fast forward one year later to March 2021 when I finally had the surgery only to be tested positive for COVID-19 a week later. A day later, my partner received a similar result. This “double-whammy” had us both reeling and had me wondering about practical items like: can I start physiotherapy which is critical to my surgical recovery? How will my clips be removed? How will COVID impact me and my family? It was a nerve-wracking period with high stress all around.

As I had been followed before at AGH, I had intended my physiotherapy to be handled there as well. Because of that, in April I met some incredible people when I needed them at AGH. It involved multiple players: my physio team who adjusted programming to assist me virtually at home and guided me to solutions for some of my other concerns. Top of mind was also surgical clip removal as I was not in good enough condition to travel into Ottawa as scheduled. Vicki told me about the COVID Care Clinic established at AGH which ultimately scheduled me for clip removal – one physician and three staff, in the beautiful sunlight, in the parking lot of the clinic!

When Vicki knew I was dealing with leg pain and swelling, the ultrasound department was contacted, and I booked a visit which confirmed a possible thrombosis situation. Dr. Tiffany, having reviewed the test, called a day later confirming he had contacted the Thrombosis Clinic in Ottawa for follow-up. What a hometown team effort that complemented a successful surgery complicated by a virus that found us along with a growing need for local solutions!

Long story short – both my partner and I are fine, have received our first COVID “jabs” and are looking forward to health and good times ahead. Even the cat, our great grey Furgus, is looking better – I believe we petted him way too much when we were trying to figure it all out. Recovery on all fronts has been good and I’m grateful to have been linked with the people of a profession that really cares about finding solutions to life’s challenging moments – and in this “interesting” year as well.”

Pictured are Guardian Angels, Morgan Cann, Robyn Soule, Cheryl Moore, Vicki James- Lafleur and Heather Phaneuf. Missing are Guardian Angels Dr. Champagne and Dr. Tiffany.

For more information, or to nominate your own Guardian Angel, please visit https://almontehospitalfoundation.com/guardian-angels/