Your Stories

We hope you enjoy reading Your Stories.

Each story is a treasure and in sharing your experiences, our whole community is enriched. If you have a story to share, please complete the form below, or contact the Foundation office at (705) 645-4404 ext. 3193.

Share your story or words of gratitude below. We will do our best to ensure the doctors, nurses and health care team receive your message. Please include as many details as possible.

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Janice & Norm Jackson Bala Residents

Having been lifelong residents of Muskoka we have seen manu changes to our local hospital over the years. Aside from the birth of our children in the 1960’s and a few minor issues we had not had a great deal of need for it. [MORE]

John Rosbak Torrance, ON

My 2017 experience with the Bracebridge Hospital began in June when I arrived in emergency with severe abdominal pains. [MORE]


Tilson Family – A Mother’s Story
Gravenhurst Residents
I’m Johanna Tilson and this testimonial is on behalf of with my husband Kerry and my two daughters, Julia and Rachel. [MORE]

Rachel Tilson – A Big Heart for A Little Girl
Gravenhurst Resident
When my sister Julia got sick and was in the hospital, I went to my Aunt Silvia’s house. [MORE]

Mark Sherk and Daughter Caroline – Active cottage family needs cottage hospital
Lake Muskoka Cottagers
Over the years that we’ve been cottaging in Muskoka, we’ve had to use the services of the Bracebridge Hospital on a number of occasions. [MORE]

Brian Finch – Cottage Crisis
Lake Muskoka Cottager
It started out as yet another fun August weekend at the cottage on Lake Muskoka with my family. [MORE]

Ron Doty – Our community needs a good hospital
Associate Dealer, Canadian Tire, Bracebridge
As a businessperson, I recognize that in order to attract businesses to the area, we need a good hospital. [MORE]

Guy Gagnon – Putting something back into our community
Owner/Operator, Your Independent Grocer, Bracebridge
Having a strong hospital is very important for families in South Muskoka.
 [MORE]


Hammond Transport Group – Muskoka’s staff supports their Hospital
Muskoka Transport employee committee, Bracebridge

Something special has been happening over at Muskoka Transport – and it’s been going on since 1999. [MORE]

 


Terry Stevenson – Pulling together and making things happen
Owner, Stevenson Plumbing and Electric, Gravenhurst
I support the hospital because we live in this area and our family needs a good hospital. [MORE]

Terry Stansbury-Rice – Observations from an Insider
Clinical Resource Nurse for Acute Care at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site, Bracebridge. 
Every day I see what a tremendous difference having a CT scanner on site makes for our patients and staff. [MORE]

Fran & Bev Hammond
– A Daughter’s Story

Bev Hammond, President, Veritas Communications, Toronto
My mother’s story started and finished at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital before the CT scanner was in place. [MORE]

Eleanor Kerfoot – How do we get all the best nurses?
Cottager and Resident of South Muskoka
My husband Harry & I cottaged here in South Muskoka for many years before we made Muskoka our permanent home.  [MORE]

Jodi Remouche (Eidsness) 
South Muskoka Resident
It was just over a year-and-a-half ago that my life changed drastically. [MORE]

John Rosbak – Grateful Patient

John Rosbak of Torrance

My 2017 experience with the Bracebridge Hospital began in June when I arrived in emergency with severe abdominal pains.

The emergency personnel saw me in a timely manner, eased my pain and suggested that I should see my own doctor as soon as possible. My doctor referred me to a surgeon who immediately booked me for surgery.

When I arrived at the hospital 7:00 am on August 30th, they prepared me physically and mentally for the operation to be done at 8:00.

Throughout the preparation I was made at ease by the staff. I woke up over 3 hrs later to find out that because of complications I had had a major operation instead of laparoscopic surgery.

Everything was fine now and the staff did an excellent job taking care of my needs regarding pain and comfort. Within two days I was on my way home feeling satisfied that I won that one because of my supporting team.

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Janice & Norm Jackson – Grateful Patients

Janice & Norm Jackson of Bala

Having been lifelong residents of Muskoka we have seen many changes to our local hospital over the years. Aside from the birth of our children in the 1960’s and a few minor issues we had not had a great deal of need for it.

However, 2001 was an eventful year as we both found ourselves requiring unexpected surgery. One in March, the other in Nov.

The care we both received during and after our surgeries was beyond our expectations.

The entire medical staff was amazing. One could not have been in better hands. We consider ourselves most fortunate to have this wonderful facility in our region.

Respectfully,

Janice & Norm Jackson

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Tilson Family – A Mother’s Story

The Tilson Family, Gravenhurst

I’m Johanna Tilson and this testimonial is on behalf of with my husband Kerry and my two daughters, Julia and Rachel.

I’m here to tell you about how important it is to have the CT scanner here at South Muskoka Hospital, close to home.

I’ll never forget November 24th, 2006.  My daughter Julia called me at work and said she had a terrible headache and that the back of her neck hurt. She told me she thought she was going to die and for me to please hurry.

I dashed over to her school and by the time I arrived, she’d lost consciousness. We went by ambulance to South Muskoka Hospital and within a very short period of time, she had a CT scan.

All the hospital staff were so responsive to us – they showed us they cared at every opportunity. There was this atmosphere of concern – we knew even without them saying anything, that they cared and they tried to do everything to comfort us.

The doctor told us the CT had shown that Julia had bleeding on the brain. With this information and Julia now in a coma, she was airlifted to a special paediatric hospital in Ottawa. I went in the helicopter with Julia while my husband Kerry went home, packed our suitcases, and followed us by car.

The nurses at South Muskoka helped prepare me as I waited for the helicopter. They thought of everything – packing a lunch for Kerry’s long drive, Gravol for me and saline solution for my contacts.

Julia had surgery in Ottawa and came out of her coma 11 days later. Julia had a second surgery and we go down to Toronto periodically for follow-up observations.

Since Julia’s incident, everyone at South Muskoka has been keeping tabs on us – we’ve been back a few times and we truly feel we’re part of the hospital’s family now.

I’d like to relay something my husband Kerry told one of the nurses and I feel the same way: he told them that although they may call themselves doctors and nurses, to us you’ll always be our angels.

That’s because, on a Friday in November, you responded to our call for help. If it wasn’t for the South Muskoka Hospital and the CT scanner, I don’t know where we’d be today.

Please read the testimonial from my daughter Rachel, Julia’s sister, who wants to tell you about what she did, with the help of her cousin Bradley, to support the campaign for the CT scanner.

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Rachel Tilson – A Big Heart for A Little Girl

Rachel Tilson,
at eight-years old,
Gravenhurst

When Rachel was eight-years old, she made a speech about what happened when her sister got sick. Five years, later, Rachel’s words still resound – after all, she just wanted to help other kids, just like her sister.

When my sister Julia got sick and was in the hospital, I went to my Aunt Silvia’s house. My cousin Bradley suggested that I knit headbands with my Grandma and we could sell them to donate the money to the hospital.

We want to help other kids, not just Julia, but other sick kids too. So we sold a lot of headbands and have raised over $400 for the campaign. We bought a stuffed cat so other kids can hold on to it if they are scared to go in the cat scan machine.

Update: Rachel & Bradley have raised more than $1,000 for the CT scanner.

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Mark Sherk – Active cottage family needs cottage hospital

Mark Sherk and Daughter Caroline, Lake Muskoka Cottagers

Over the years that we’ve been cottaging in Muskoka, we’ve had to use the services of the Bracebridge Hospital on a number of occasions. My wife, Carrie, sliced her hand while washing dishes, I fell while trimming trees and my daughter, Brianne punctured her foot jumping on the trampoline. We’re an active family and we enjoy working and playing at our cottage on Lake Muskoka. Each and every time we’ve needed the services of our cottage hospital – they’ve been there for us, providing excellent medical care and treating us with care and compassion.

One summer when my 13-year-old daughter Caroline took a rough fall when wakeboarding. She had what they call a third degree concussion and has actually lost her memory of that day. At the hospital, because of the severity of Caroline’s case, we knew we were being fast-tracked. Thankfully, the doctor could tell from the CT scan that although there was some swelling, there wasn’t any bleeding on Caroline’s brain. The doctor advised that Caroline stay for observation.  During the next two days, the staff monitored her closely and did a second CT scan for comparison. The treatment and care we received at Bracebridge hospital was nothing short of outstanding.

As active cottagers enjoying all the recreational opportunities Muskoka has to offer, having a CT scanner at the hospital gives us great peace of mind. We spend approximately 25 percent of our time at the cottage and during that time, engage in higher risk activities than what we typically do in the city. I’m so thankful that a well-equipped hospital with excellent staff is so close by. We are supporting the Foundation and I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

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Brian Finch – Cottage Crisis

Brian Finch, Lake Muskoka Cottager

It started out as yet another fun August weekend at the cottage on Lake Muskoka with my family. My wife Georgina, my three children and I enjoy Muskoka and all it has to offer. This weekend, however, turned out very differently. I started to feel an excruciating pain in my abdomen and suddenly, I became violently ill.

At the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site, the tests quickly revealed a blockage in my intestine. Dr. Chaudhuri advised me that I would need surgery soon. Being my first time at South Muskoka, I considered returning home to my own hospital in London, Ontario – a much larger hospital.

Yet what I’d seen so far, on that day, had impressed me. I felt confident in the expertise and professionalism of the staff at South Muskoka, so I chose to have the surgery there. I’m happy to report the operation was a complete success and I learned that I could count on our cottage hospital to have state-of-the-art equipment and the expertise to handle medical emergencies such as mine.

I’m very impressed with South Muskoka. The medical staff were so efficient and professional, I had complete confidence in them.

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Ron Doty – Our community needs a good Hospital

Ron Doty, Associate Dealer, Canadian Tire, Bracebridge

As a businessperson, I recognize that in order to attract businesses to the area, we need a good hospital. I believe all our businesses need to contribute to the community by supporting our local hospital and keeping South Muskoka a healthy, fun place for our residents, seasonal residents and visitors.

When I learned that physicians are attracted to hospitals with modern equipment like a CT scanner, I knew I had to give my support. People in South Muskoka need an active hospital equipped with top-notch medical staff and modern equipment.

Our hospital has a very good record for patient care – my wife Mary and I are pleased with the level of care at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site.

Please support your hospital.

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Guy Gagnon – Putting something back into our Community

Guy Gagnon, Owner/Operator, Your Independent Grocer, Bracebridge

Having a strong hospital is very important for families in South Muskoka. It is also important for the strength of our community overall. We need to make sure our community can attract business, working people and baby boomers. People base their relocations and businesses around a strong infrastructure, and the hospital is on the top of that list.

For these reasons, I ask that you join me and support your community hospita

 

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Muskoka Transport employees – Muskoka’s staff supports their Hospital

Muskoka Transport employee committee, Bracebridge

Something special has been happening over at Muskoka Transport – and it’s been going on since 1999. The funny thing is that these employees don’t think that what they are doing is anything out of the ordinary. Instead, they say that any other group of determined employees in Muskoka can do the same thing – and are challenging them to do exactly that.

Staff members at Muskoka Transport completed their second $10,000 pledge for the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation. That’s a total of $20,000 they’ve raised over eight years – all of it because they care about their community. Residents and families in South Muskoka, including cottagers and visitors, will all benefit from the efforts of this group of determined employees. It all started when the staff formed a committee, recalls Muskoka Transport staff member Jacky Finlayson. “We decided that we didn’t want to ask for donations. Instead, we decided to raise money for the hospital by providing something for people to purchase.”

From selling salads and burgers at a weekly BBQ, to collecting aluminium cans, the employees engaged in various ventures, each appropriate for the efforts and interests of the staff at that time. Little by little, the money accumulated and it seemed that every week, $80 or $100 came in. The biggest fundraiser, however, is the company Christmas party raffle. The committee asks their suppliers and other community supporters to donate prizes. Ticket sales yield around $2,000 each year.

“We get great prizes,” says Finlayson, “and donors know it’s for the hospital.” For those on the committee, fundraising for the hospital is an easy sell. “We need up-to-date medical technology,” says Finlayson, “it’s something that benefits everyone in our community.”

 

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Terry Stevenson – Pulling together and making things happen.

 
Terry Stevenson, Owner, Stevenson Plumbing and Electric, Gravenhurst

 

I support the hospital because we live in this area and our family needs a good hospital. I feel that I have to stand up and say that this is very important.

As a businessperson, the people in this area give me a livelihood and I need to put something back into this community. My responsibility, as I see it, is to ensure the community is good for me, my family and other families. The area is growing and as it grows, business people have to be responsible and show they care. I run a family business and families have to pull together to make things happen.

I don’t think we would have doctors coming to our area if we didn’t have the CT scanner. Twenty years ago, a CT was a luxury, but today, it’s a day-to-day tool. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the trades, like me, or whatever job you have, you need the proper tools to do the job. All the new doctors learn and practise with a CT.

For these reasons, I ask that you join me and support your community hospital.

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Terry Stansbury-Rice – Observations from an Insider

Clinical Resource Nurse for Acute Care at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site, Bracebridge.

Every day I see what a tremendous difference having a CT scanner on site makes for our patients and staff. This is a technology that saves lives. CT technology can often immediately provide a definitive diagnosis.

There are situations such as strokes, spinal injuries, and acute abdominal conditions where CT technology can give us the information we need to quickly determine the appropriate treatment. Time is often of the essence and transporting patients elsewhere for CT scans could delay life saving interventions.

Please donate to your hospital – we need state-of-the-art technology to offer you the best in healthcare.

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Beverley Hammond – A Daughter’s Story

Fran & Bev Hammond

 

My mother’s story started and finished at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital before the CT scanner was in place. After admission to emergency, the doctor made the quick decision to send my mother away for the diagnostics and emergency treatment – a decision that saved her life.

After stabilizing my mother following high-risk brain surgery at Toronto Western Hospital, the doctors transferred her back to the Bracebridge hospital to begin her recovery.

I was, admittedly, initially opposed to taking her out of a world-class neurological facility and into a community hospital two hours away from the technology, the specialists and around-the-clock care that had kept her alive.

Yet what transpired at that small community hospital over the next six weeks was nothing short of remarkable.

We witnessed the team of committed and resolutely determined caregivers who helped my mother rebuild her life literally one baby step at a time.

They dubbed her their “miracle patient.”  But it was clear to us that it was her care team at SMMH who were working miracles.

I’ve learned something else – that lifesaving and life-changing care happens every single day, not just in big Toronto hospitals but also in places like SMMH.  And while it might not be the stuff of headlines, it is the stuff of healing and hope for mothers and daughters and families, like mine.

So, ironically, as I sit looking out on “hospital row” in downtown Toronto, I am thinking of a small, community hospital two hours north of here: of a doctor who made the quick decision to send my mother away for the diagnostics and emergency treatment that saved her life; and the committed caregivers at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital who worked day in and day out, to help her re-build it.

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Eleanor Kerfoot –  How do we get all the best nurses?

 
Former Cottager and Resident of South Muskoka

My husband Harry & I cottaged here in South Muskoka for many years before we made Muskoka our permanent home. Harry had a number of significant health issues over the last few years. There were many evenings when we came by ambulance to the hospital. The doctors and the staff always treated us with the utmost respect and competence and never once were we treated as if we shouldn’t have come. If the emergency staff were not so congenial, I wouldn’t have brought Harry back to the hospital. That kind of thoughtfulness pays off.

Harry’s last days were spent in the palliative care unit where we received excellent treatment. I can’t speak kindly enough of the nursing staff – they are so very competent. It meant a great deal that the staff honoured our wishes graciously. The nurses on the floor were very respectful – it showed in the way they spoke with us and how they treated Harry. That respect meant so much to us. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful hospital in Muskoka.

It meant the world to me – that we were treated with kindness and with competence. The staff try very hard to reach out to the family and the patient and also to be informed. The nurses deserve endless praise – they work long shifts, yet at 11 at night they are no less congenial and thoughtful than when they came in for their shift 12 hours earlier.

I don’t know how we get all the good nurses. A lot of hospitals in world could learn from how much our little hospital has preserved and enacted this culture of immense kindness & competence.

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Jodi Remouche (Eidsness)

It is with great sadness that we relay the news that Jodi passed away on March 27, 2008. Jodi once gave a speech about her experiences. This is a summary of that speech. 

We hope that by sharing her story once again, people will learn about Jodi and understand more deeply how precious their health and life really is.

 – Jodi Remouche’s Family

Jodi Remouche (Eidsness)

It was just over a year-and-a-half ago that my life changed drastically.  One minute I was a happily married mother of three who had a great career – and the next moment, I was dying.

My first thought after the doctor told me that I needed a lung transplant was: he’s crazy.


Then I worried about my husband and three children, how would they cope without me.  I’ve had asthma ever since I was a teenager but now we figure it was the first onset of LAM (Lymphangeilleomyomytosis) – an incurable lung disease.  My doctor put me on 24-hr oxygen and I went to Toronto General Hospital to see the transplant specialists.  I was no longer in control of my life, I had to leave my job that I loved and sit at home.  I could not do housework, laundry, or even bathe myself.  I could no longer take care of my family.

In June of 2006 we moved home to Muskoka to be close to my family so that we would have a better group of support people to help with the kids and my many doctor’s appointments.  I started physio at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) to keep up my strength for surgery and began the long wait for transplant surgery.  In the meantime, I was admitted a number of times to Toronto General for various complications.

One time I was only home two days and had to be rushed to SMMH.  The emergency room staff were awesome – they took great care of me and helped to keep me calm.  The next day I met my guardian angel, Dr. Mark Bibeau – the new respirologist.  A few days later, my lung collapsed and they rushed me to the ICU.

I was scared – it felt different from the last time, I thought I was going to die.

Dr. Bibeau and Shawn (the Respiratory Therapy Manager) saved my life.  They put in another chest tube and relieved the pressure that was causing my heart to have trouble beating. It was all a blur for me, but I remember the nurses in the ICU that day trying to keep me calm and working hard to keep me breathing.  I spent the next four days in the ICU at SMMH and then transferred back to Toronto.

When I was transferred back to SMMH, I got to see my kids and hug them and tell them I loved them.  I went to sleep that night content at being in the Bracebridge hospital because it was close to home and near my kids.

It was at SMMH that I learned I was going to get a transplant in Toronto. As they rolled me down the hallway to the elevators, all of the nurses on that night who had taken care of me during my stay were lined up to say good-bye and wish me luck.  I was so overwhelmed by their caring and compassion.

I had the surgery on September 13, 2006 and when I had the tube removed the next morning I could breathe on my own better than I had in years.  My family all pulled together to help in my recovery.  I am able to now have a life again, I don’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone do the things I want to do with my family.

I owe so much to everyone who helped even in the smallest ways.  I owe my life to Dr. Bibeau and Shawn, the nurses in the ICU in Bracebridge that sat with me and kept me calm and kept my attitude positive when it looked like I would not make it to the transplant.

I cannot express in words the thankyous that I want to say.  I do know that the treatment I received at SMMH was excellent, the nurses and doctors take their jobs on with a passion and attentiveness that is reflected in my recovery.  From the bottom of my heart and from my husband and children THANK YOU for everything.  Your compassion and caring natures are recognized and appreciated.

 

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