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P.E.I. woman went from nurse to patient at Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Julie Hambly, right, chairwoman of the Friends for Life campaign, joins Rhonda Lewis and her family for a photo following this year’s campaign launch at the QEH in Charlottetown. Lewis, a stroke survivor and former RN at the QEH, is accompanied by her husband, Chris, and their nine-year-old daughter, Delaney.
Julie Hambly, right, chairwoman of the Friends for Life campaign, joins Rhonda Lewis and her family for a photo following this year’s campaign launch at the QEH in Charlottetown. Lewis, a stroke survivor and former RN at the QEH, is accompanied by her husband, Chris, and their nine-year-old daughter, Delaney. - Katie Smith

Rhonda Lewis shares her story during the annual Friends for Life campaign fundraising launch

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Rhonda Lewis spent 23 years as a registered nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital providing care to her patients up until the day her life changed.

At the age of 46, the P.E.I. woman had a stroke, and all of a sudden, she went from providing the care to being the patient.

“I remember being taken by the ambulance to the QEH, and the next thing I remember is waking up in Halifax,” she said during the annual Friends for Life campaign fundraising launch at the QEH on Thursday.

While Lewis has no memory of what happened during that time, her family members were all too aware of what was going on and were told she might not make it through the night.

“It was touch and go for a number of days,” she said, adding she was relieved when she was able to return to the QEH to continue with her care.

“I knew I’d be in very good hands with our incredible team of health-care providers.”

Lewis spent three-and-a-half months accessing a number of QEH services, including internal medicine, general medicine, surgery, gastroenterology, stroke rehabilitation services, neurology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, numerous CT scans and spiritual care.

Lewis said she was grateful her family was able to visit her during her recovery by only having to cross the Hillsborough Bridge, rather than the Confederation Bridge.

“You just never know what can happen. I went from walking these halls every day to not being able to walk at all.”

Thanks to the medical equipment and rehabilitation services at the QEH, Lewis was able to make many improvements in her recovery.

Purchasing vital equipment is made possible through donations and fundraising efforts like the annual Friends for Life campaign.

The focus for this year’s campaign is to support the purchase of a 128-slice CT Scanner and post-processing technology at a cost of $1.5 million.

The machine takes 3D cross-sectional images of a patient’s anatomy, allowing health-care professionals to accurately identify internal structures and see their shape, size, density and texture.

This equipment is used in most every aspect of medicine, particularly as it relates to stroke care, cancer and major trauma.


At a glance

  • CT scans are used to diagnose, treat and monitor diseases, including most cancer, provide immediate life-saving treatment to stroke victims and quickly assess major trauma patients and determine their internal injuries
  • There is one CT scanner used for testing at the QEH, which annually performs about 11,500 scans
  • Purchase of a state-of-the-art CT scanner will include valuable post-processing technology and exceptional imaging to deliver even higher diagnosis accuracy
  • Donations can be made to the QEH Friends for Life campaign by calling the foundation office at 902-894-2425, by visiting Qehfoundation.pe.ca or through the mail (QEH Foundation, P.O. Box 6600, Charlottetown, P.E.I., C1A 8T5

Campaign chairwoman Julie Hambly said each year the Island community makes giving to the QEH a priority that helps keep Island families on P.E.I. for their care.

“Gifts of all sizes truly add up,” she said during the launch.

To kick-start this year’s campaign, the Evangeline-Central Credit Union presented a gift of $2,000, raised through their iCare program; the QEH Auxiliary presented a donation of $25,000 and Dr. Rob Kelley, president of the QEH Medical Staff Association, presented a combined gift from QEH physicians and staff of $68,122.

Hambly said she believes the support shown at the launch will inspire all Islanders to join in on the campaign.

“It is only with the unwavering support of foundation donors that we achieve success,” she said.

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