When I drove past the Trees of Caring on the grounds of Cambridge Memorial Hospital two Christmases ago, I could never have imagined what they would mean for my young children and family.
I’m so grateful to you, and every person in our community that gives to Cambridge Memorial, to help them purchase crucially important equipment like the AIRVO respiratory machine that pumped air into our daughter, Ruthie’s lungs last Christmas. I have no doubt that each light purchased through this year’s Trees of Caring campaign will help someone else in crisis.
That’s why I’m writing you today, to ask you to make a donation to the Trees of Caring campaign, and help Cambridge Memorial buy another essential piece of equipment that will save someone else’s life!
I really hope you will join my husband, Noah, and our three children in being a part of this important campaign, which really embodies Cambridge’s community spirit at this special time of the year.
Your donation will help to light a tree at the front of Cambridge Memorial, and if you like, you can dedicate your lights to someone you care about. The Foundation will even send a card to let them know you’ve made a special holiday gift in their name.
Your donation will be used to purchase equipment for the Women and Children’s department in the new wing of our hospital. This includes infant warmers, ventilators, high resolution ultrasound machines, fetal monitors and a blood warming machine. Donations will also fund a transport incubator for babies that need to be transferred to Hamilton or Toronto.
I have to tell you, it is a blessing to have Cambridge Memorial so close to our doctor’s office and home. With all three of our children sick with pneumonia last year, it gave us tremendous peace of mind to have excellent care right here in our city.
It all started two weeks before Christmas 2016. My middle child, Allan, then 2½ years old, had to be admitted to hospital for pneumonia and a common respiratory infection called Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
RSV, as you may know, is highly contagious so babies often catch it when an older sibling brings it home from school or daycare. As such, most kids have RSV at least once by the time they’re two years old, and it isn’t too serious. But we needed to keep a closer eye on Allan because he has a heart condition.
So, I would spend the day at the hospital with Allan, and leave milk behind at home for our baby. Then, Noah would spend the night at the hospital, while I went home to care for Ruthie and our other son.
Throughout this time, the rest of our family was sick with what we thought was just a nasty cold. However, when I came home at night, I noticed that Ruthie’s cold had gotten worse. In fact, she seems to grow sicker each day.
I took her to our pediatrician, but he wasn’t too concerned. He simply suggested we keep an eye on her. The next day though, she still wasn’t nursing well, and her diapers were dry. I was worried, so I took her to the doctor again. This time when he examined her and said, “You need to go the hospital right now.”
What happened over the next few hours proves how quickly your child’s health, in fact the health of any loved one, can take a turn for the worse. It also shows how important it is to have excellent care close by, and it’s why we need to make sure our community hospital is strong!
By the time I got Ruthie to Emergency, her heart rate was extremely high. She was lethargic and her skin was doughy.
I realized how serious Ruthie’s condition was when the emergency staff couldn’t get a proper reading of her oxygen levels. The team rushed her to a special room on the pediatric unit, and called in a second respiratory therapist, who said, “We need to get her on the AIRVO right away.”
It turned out that Ruthie had pneumonia and RSV, like her brother.
Then right there, before my eyes the AIRVO machine, purchased with donations from the Trees of Caring campaign, saved our baby from severe respiratory distress.
The AIRVO pushed warm, humidified air into Ruthie’s lungs, expanding them so she could absorb the oxygen, while my husband Noah and I watched and waited.
Meanwhile, our son, Allan, was down the hall, facing his own struggle with pneumonia and RSV. The next 48 hours were a blur of worry and exhaustion as we went back and forth between their rooms, checking on each child.
Finally, they both started to show signs of improvement.
As it happens, our eldest son, Jonah, who was 5, had been admitted to Cambridge Memorial with pneumonia earlier that year – a week before Ruthie was born. Thankfully, throughout this ordeal, he was safely tucked away at Grandma’s house.
I’m quite certain that if Cambridge Memorial didn’t have that AIRVO machine, Ruthie would have been in real trouble. It would have meant transporting Ruthie to Hamilton by ambulance – which could have been a very dangerous move. Frankly, I don’t like to think about what could have happened. I’m sure you can see why I’m so grateful to the entire team at Cambridge Memorial!
Throughout the days and nights that followed, the multidisciplinary team – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and more – were not just professional and knowledgeable; they were also incredibly kind and supportive.
They would check in and say, “Hey, Mom, how are you doing?” They would urge me or my husband to go home for a couple of hours to see my sons (Allan was discharged after a few nights), take a shower, change our clothes, eat home-cooked food, and have a few moments of normalcy amid the chaos and worry.
Balancing our time between home and the hospital was only possible because Ruthie was nearby at Cambridge Memorial and Grandma lived just 10-minutes away by car. This allowed us lean on friends and family for support – which wouldn’t have been possible in Hamilton or Toronto.
Back at the hospital, later on Christmas Day, it suddenly hit us that, while our family plans had been disrupted by Ruthie’s hospitalization, the professionals that devote themselves to healthcare often have their Christmas plans turned upside down! I think they are amazingly selfless – and I believe we should all be grateful for the times they sacrifice their own family time so we can get healthy and spend time with ours.
Thankfully, after a week, we were able to take Ruthie home, and on December 27th, we had a lovely Christmas celebration which was all the more precious because of what we’d been through as a family.
The night before our celebration, we helped the boys put out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. Fortunately, was organized for Christmas before the kids got sick, so their presents were wrapped and ready to be placed under the tree the next morning.
We invited family to drop by throughout the day to decorate cookies, sing Christmas carols, and watch movies. We even took our traditional family photo on the couch, as we do every Christmas. It was wonderful.
Mostly though, the day was just about gratitude. It felt so good to be together, under the same roof again, snug in our home. Earlier, we were thinking of moving 30 minutes out of town, but after our experience at Cambridge Memorial, we knew we were staying right here.
Noah and I understand that a health emergency like Ruthie’s could easily happen again, at any time, to any of our kids. So having our community hospital nearby gives us peace of mind.
I hope we never need help like that again, but if we do, it’s good to know that the staff at Cambridge Memorial will be there for us, 365 days a year.
So now, we want to be there for them!
That’s why I offered to write this letter to share our story, and ask you to make a donation to the 29th annual Trees of Caring campaign. Every year, donations from committed donors like you, purchase life-saving equipment like the AIRVO respiratory machine that saved Ruthie’s life.
This year, as Cambridge Memorial strives to meet the healthcare needs of our growing city, you can help by making a donation and helping to fund urgent needs like new equipment for the Women and Children’s Department.
Will you please send a gift to the Trees of Caring campaign today?
You can light up individual bulbs for $10 each, or a whole string for $250! You can buy as many as you like, and then join us for the tree lighting ceremony at the end of this month! Or, you can support your hospital all year long by becoming a cherished monthly donor.
My family is proof of the amazing impact that your donation can have on a life. Thank you so much for your past support. Noah and I are so grateful!