Lions Gate Hospital patient Brian Dougherty takes us inside his battle with COVID-19

Coronavirus stole four weeks of Brian Dougherty’s life but thanks to LGH staff and physicians, access to the right technology, and his previous good health, he survived his brush with the deadly virus.

For 50 years, Brian had managed to avoid a stay in the hospital. That changed dramatically in late March when he was admitted to the Emergency Department with severe shortness of breath.

For two weeks prior he’d been suffering from fevers, terrible night sweats, and debilitating headaches. Hoping his symptoms would subside, he stayed home. But when his breathing got progressively worse, Brian was whisked off by ambulance to LGH Emergency.

After “the best health exam I ever had,” he was admitted to the ICU, where he was attached to a respiratory device that pumped moist air into his lungs. As his condition stabilized, he was moved to the COVID-19 Unit. As well as enduring the physical symptoms and hallucinations caused by brain swelling, being a COVID-19 patient was a very lonely experience. Other than the four brief daily medical checks by staff “dressed like aliens,” Brian’s smartphone was his only connection with family and the outside world.

“The most traumatic part of it was being stuck in a hospital for a month,” he says. “I’m a Type-A, driven kind of guy and it is effectively solitary confinement. I was hooked up to this machine from a cord, so I couldn’t really go further than eight feet from this machine. If I stuck my hand out of the bathroom while still attached to the eight feet of cord, I could basically go to the bathroom.”

Recuperation was a long, slow process and Brian was hooked to a variety of respiratory aids for several weeks to give his lungs time to recover and enable him to go home and continue his convalescence.

“Certainly in my life I’ve never been through anything worse. It is a terrible thing to go through but I’m living, the treatment worked and here I am. I’m very grateful for that part.”

Although Brian is back to his normal routine – including a return to the accountancy practice he’s had on the North Shore for close to four decades – the disease has had a lasting impact. He has experienced the intermittent return of symptoms, lost 35 lbs, and has been left with 65% lung capacity; unlike muscle mass, it can never be regained and the walk up the hill to his North Shore home now leaves him a little puffed. All told, however, he is thankful for having had access to life-saving technology at LGH.

“This experience made me realize that the whole process is more than the people,” says Brian. “I have nothing but praise for all the staff, but you have to match the expertise of the well-trained staff with the latest technology to end up with the optimum result. That is what’s going to make future patients, with whatever their issues happen to be, better. Lions Gate Hospital Foundation performs a very important function by raising money for the hospital to ensure that we all have the latest technology.”

Now, Brian is part of a project to track and monitor the health of COVID-19 patients. More is being
learned every day about the longterm impacts on health, and the knowledge learned from the first
wave of survivors will help refine treatment and follow-up care for future patients.

Imagine being in the midst of a medical emergency, with high-tech equipment beeping and attentive nurses and physicians hovering over you. But when asked a question, you cannot clearly explain how you’re feeling or use the right words to describe what you’re experiencing.

It’s a challenge often faced by patients and medical professionals, especially in a diverse community such as the North Shore. Which is why the multi-modal translation units recently purchased through the Foundation’s Patient Experience Fund are such a game changer for Lions Gate Hospital.

The translator tablet features two options: a live video link with a translator, or a voice-activated virtual interpreter to help health care staff and their patients communicate more effectively with each other.

“Having the virtual online interpretation service is one of the best improvements in patient-care that we’ve had in a very long time.”

– Dr. Cassidy, ER Physician at Lions Gate Hospital

Watch a Live Demo of the Virtual Translator at Lions Gate Hospital

With hospital visitors severely limited during this COVID-19 crisis, the portable translator proved to be an invaluable tool for staff. Between March and June, more than 800 translation calls in a variety of languages, including Farsi, Russian, Bengali, Mandarin, Cantonese, and American Sign Language, have been made on behalf of patients.

“We just love it.”

Emergency Staff have nothing but praise for the new translation technology at LGH.

The multi-modal translation units are available as individual tablets or mounted on wheels for ease of use. Two units are currently in use at LGH (one of which was paid for by an anonymous donor) with another eight on order. Including the price of real-time translation services, the total cost of the program is $280,000.

With the help of our community and generous sponsors, we’re happy to announce we surpassed our fundraising goal and raised $87,302.

On behalf of the North Shore Hospice & Palliative Project, thank you for supporting the North Shore Hike & Bike.

North Shore Hospice Hike & Bike Celebration Video

Each year, close to 300 patients receive care at the 15-bed North Shore Hospice. Hundreds more and their families are supported through the Every Day Counts Program, which offers therapeutic and emotional support.

The North Shore Hospice Hike & Bike proceeds will provide a digital upgrade, enhancing virtual counselling services, family and friend visits, and expanding our virtual outreach program. Read more about the Digital Upgrade Campaign.