On the Impact of Philanthropy
Dr. Kathryn Brown – Medical Director, IH Cardiac Diagnostics & Director, KGH Echo Labs shares her account on how she cannot do it alone. On the day she started her Directorship at KGH there was a 24 month wait for a routine Echo test. Thanks to donor support through the KGh Foundation, 2 new Echo machines were purchased and the current wait for an Echo test at KGH is now less than 2-weeks.
When I accepted the role as heart ultrasound (“Echo”) Lab Director for Kelowna General Hospital in 2015 I had just finished a year of training in San Francisco and I was excited to bring specialized training to my new city. However, I was faced with a challenge I have never faced before. As Kelowna has grown from a small hospital to a large tertiary referral center the volume of patients and the demand for diagnostic tests has also grown exponentially. On the day I assumed my directorship, there was a 24 month wait list for a routine Echo test. Two years! The problems I faced were not new technologies or advanced imaging procedures, I was being asked “What should we do if the ordering physician has retired or died before the test could be done?”
I was overwhelmed.
We rolled up our sleeves and tackled all aspects of efficiency. Interior Health and Kelowna General Hospital worked arm in arm with our physician and allied health workers to adopt new scheduling, unique partnerships to expand the size of the Echo lab and looked at every step of the process from requisition forms to final reports. It helped, but it wasn’t enough.
The breakthrough came when I was speaking to a patient who had waited to have her Echo test and a significant finding was discovered. She asked intelligent questions like, ‘Could this have been discovered earlier? Would it have made a difference?’ and I answered honestly, ‘Yes, it might have.’ I braced myself for her to yell and scream, to threaten lawsuits and call me names, but she looked me right in the eye and said, “How can I help?”
The concept of a “Grateful Patient” is something we never learned in medical school. We are trained to never expect a “Thank you” after providing care as we often meet people at their most frightened, or overwhelmed. Our motivation to help patients must come from within ourselves.
I had no idea that it is an important and therapeutic act for patients, or their families, to provide support to their local health care system regardless of if their experiences resulted in joyful recovery or personal loss. Every time a patient provides their time as volunteers or a donation towards medical services and equipment, they know that they are directly improving the quality of care for everyone in their community. That is an incredibly powerful gift to give.
As a direct result of the generosity of our local community, through the support of the KGH Foundation, we received two new Echo machines that were adopted into an updated scheduling grid and a new outpatient location to improve patient access. The current waitlist for a routine Echo study at Kelowna General Hospital? Less than two weeks.
Every day I am grateful for the privilege to do the best I can with the trust patients and their families put in me. I also know that I can not do it alone. I could not provide the calibre of care that I do without the equipment and funding support from the KGH Foundation and generosity of people like yourselves.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.