Susan Leslie, Auxiliary membership director and Charlotte Robinson, Palliative Care coordinator apply labels acknowledging the Auxiliary contribution of new CADD pumps. (submitted)

Cowichan Hospital Auxiliary donates $40K for pumps that help patients keep independence

Imagine getting a cancer diagnosis about a year after your child is born.

By Bruce Wilkinson

Imagine getting a cancer diagnosis about a year after your child is born. And less than a year later learning that the treatments available can’t prevent the disease from being terminal.

You decide that everything you will do from then on will be to create experiences and memories with and for your family and friends. As the months go by and the disease progresses, every week and then every day becomes precious. With help from a small piece of technology, you are able to continue living at home, reinforcing the family ties and experiences in a supportive home setting rather than lying on a hospital bed subject to the regimes of hospital efficiencies. It sounds like a Hollywood script, but it’s a real Cowichan Valley story that Brock and Heather McLeod were living until Brock died in September.

The machine that helped Brock, and can potentially help 20 per cent of palliative care patients in the Cowichan Valley service area is a Computerized Ambulatory Drug Delivery pump (CADD).

That’s why the Auxiliary to Cowichan District Hospital is pleased to announce that it has provided $40,000 funding for nine new CADD pumps in its ongoing efforts to provide care and comfort for hospital patients and residents of Cairnsmore Place and Cowichan Lodge.

CADD pumps provide patients with steady medication delivery and with the ability to instantly boost dosage when circumstances demand, without constantly involving health staff at all hours or waiting for someone to travel to their location if they are living independent of a medical facility. These new pumps will significantly help the doctors and palliative nursing staff to alleviate pain, disruption and discomfort of patients from Mill Bay to Ladysmith.

Patients who choose to live in their own homes or with family while combatting their suffering can be trained relatively quickly to operate the pumps. They can then live with as much independence as their stamina allows, not requiring hospitalization until the situation becomes critical. Some terminal patients may even choose to finish their lives at home — a decision made easier for a family knowing how simple the equipment is to operate.

We have learned that the surviving family members in our story are very grateful for access to this equipment, and how it allowed the final three months of life to be a time for bonding, sharing, long goodbyes and even little adventures that wouldn’t have been possible without Brock having control over medication delivery. We’re told that they are thankful for the “hugely” improved quality of life that it offered at a time of dwindling strength and increased fragility.

This current purchase of CADD pumps follows an initial group purchase of five pumps by several local auxiliaries in 2014. The original purchase was supported by Auxiliary to Cowichan District Hospital, The Lake Auxiliary to CDH, South Cowichan Hospital Auxiliary, and Chemainus Healthcare Auxiliary, and the new purchase increases the number of pumps to 16 total.

Earlier this year the Auxiliary to Cowichan District Hospital provided $57,000 for sterilizing pans for the operating rooms at the hospital, and contributions toward mobility chairs and hospital beds. Our total outlay to date in 2017 has been $114,000. However, the Auxiliary to CDH has a target during the Canada 150 year of $150,000 in donations, so we continue to study the options for providing more care and more comfort with nearly $35,000 yet to be spent in 2017.

All of this planning takes work, but not nearly as much work as goes into generating these funds for care of citizens in our communities. Our membership is enthusiastic, but energy can only go so far. Most of our members have volunteered for decades and we need new blood to keep moving in our mandated direction. If you recognize the value of our services and the importance of our contributions in medically useful equipment, please seriously consider joining the Auxiliary.

For more information go to http://www.cowichanhospitalauxiliary.com

Bursary website: www.makariafarm.com

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