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Helen Fisher started working as a staff nurse at the Almonte General Hospital in 1973.  In those days, nurses rotated around the hospital from unit to unit. Helen worked shifts in the Emergency Department (ER), Medical Surgical Unit, Obstetrics Unit, and even Operating Room Recovery.  Although she worked part-time when her family was young, Helen became full time in 1984.  In 2008, she started working primarily in the Birthing Centre, and retired in 2021.  When asked, she couldn’t even hazard a guess of how many babies she helped deliver, although she does remember a few babies arriving before the doctor did, and moms coming in that she had delivered.

Going from nurse to patient hasn’t been easy for Helen but that’s what has happened in the last six months.  Diagnosed with cancer, Helen has been undergoing treatments which unfortunately have resulted in some complications including infections and low oxygen levels.  In September, the Ashton resident spent close to three weeks on the Medical Surgical Floor after being brought to the ER.

Now that she is back home and feeling a bit better, Helen can reflect on her patient experience, and she sums it up in one word.  “Proud” she says.  “Incredibly proud of the amazing care I received at the hospital.”  It stands to reason that the team Helen worked with would be super attentive to their long-time colleague however she is quick to point out that “everyone involved was really caring and supportive, even many of the young staff, that I didn’t know, where just amazing.”

The incredible care and support received from Dr. Laurel Kedrosky (family physician), former colleagues, retired colleagues, and the newer medical staff has been so overwhelming.  Being on the other side of our medical system is difficult but receiving great care makes Helen proud to boast about the Almonte General Hospital.

Walking through the quiet halls of the Almonte General Hospital late at night, Dr. Melanie Fortune sometimes stops to read the names on the plaques hanging on the walls that recognize community support. More often than not, she recognizes the names of the donors. Having grown up in Almonte, her roots are deep and her connection to the community is strong, and continues to grow. Although she moved away to study medicine and do her residency, she came back home to raise her family near extended family, and to establish a medical practice as part of the Ottawa Valley Family Health Team. In some ways, caring for patients with whom she often has a personal connection could be an added weight on her shoulders but Dr. Fortune sees that in a positive way. “I practice with a lot of heart,” she says. “That’s who I am. Connecting with my patients, whether I’ve known them a long time or not, and seeing what we can accomplish together, makes the experience richer and more rewarding.”
Dr. Fortune uses the word “vocation” to describe her work in a very meaningful way. Vocation is defined as “a strong feeling that you are especially suited to fulfil a particular role in life, especially one which involves helping other people.” One only needs to speak with her for a moment about her work to come to the same conclusion.
She also recognizes the role played by the community in advancing the health care provided here in Almonte. Support of the Foundation is the only way forward to ensure we can reach the next level of excellence. Neonatal monitors, warmers, and ultra sound machines are pieces of new equipment bought for the AGH Obstetrics Unit with community funding that Dr. Fortune has seen make an enormous difference to the care she and the team can provide. The sense of community which allows that to happen is something she is very proud of. Her family, including her grandparents and parents, have been long-standing supporters of the Hospital and Manor. Her family is very much part of the hospital and manor family.

It’s not just the way Wanda Quade, a member of the Housekeeping Team at Fairview Manor, interacts with his brother that impresses Rod McMillan, it’s the way she is with all residents that really stands out to him. Rod’s older brother Doug became a resident at the Manor early in 2023 when his health started to fail him. Since then, Rod has made it a point to visit him every Tuesday and during those visits he’s been impressed with all the staff, but Wanda has certainly stood out. At one point, Doug was having trouble with his phone, finding it complicated to make calls. Wanda saw this one day while cleaning Doug’s room so she made him a simple step by step card to help him and had it laminated to put on the table next to the phone. This is one example of how she and other staff go above and beyond for their residents. “Doug is always so happy to see her… all the while she engages him with respect and care. All our family that visit Doug have been impressed with Wanda. She is caring and genuine. I see the joy in the residents’ faces that she brings.