I’ve always had strong ties with North York General Hospital (NYGH). I’ve walked its halls as a child with my father Dr. Noel Rosen, a family physician on staff at the hospital for over 50 years! But I never imagined in all that time, that I would owe the hospital a debt of gratitude for saving his life.
A NYGH doctor for over 50 years
Caring for people and making sure they are well — that’s what drives my father. As a celebrated family physician at NYGH, he has helped hundreds of families through illnesses, caring for his patients. In early January though, the tables turned, and it was my father who felt unwell. A test proved that our worst fears had come true. My father had COVID-19.
A time of distress and panic
As his condition deteriorated during his home quarantine, my mother, who was also sick with COVID-19, had to call an ambulance. The distress in her voice was heartbreaking.
The virus was surging across the city and there was a shortage of beds at many hospitals. As the ambulance left with my father gasping for breath, we hoped he would be taken to NYGH, his second home. We knew the care he would receive there would be extraordinary. In that moment of crisis, we felt a glimmer of hope when he was taken to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency at NYGH.
Nurses and doctors rushed to his care. His breathing was laboured, and his oxygen levels had dropped to a critical low. The COVID-19 precautions at the hospital didn’t allow us to visit dad. We felt helpless. I worried — would I be able to see my father again? I couldn’t imagine a world without him in it.
Incredible care in a familiar space
The medical team at NYGH had always been familiar to us, but here they became our pillars of strength. In some of our darkest moments, the team truly was an extension of our family. Drs. Kevin Sanders, Elliott Owen and Vivian Lee tirelessly took care of him and kept our family informed.
The nursing team helped put up signs from our family in his room so that when my dad gained consciousness, he would feel our presence around him. They coordinated video calls so we could talk to him when he was well enough to do so. At other times, when dad couldn’t speak because of the tubes, they showed us how his eyes filled with tears of happiness on seeing the signs. These small gestures helped us stay connected with dad.
The long battle against COVID-19
The dreaded virus continued to ravage my father’s health. We were soon told he had a raging fever, and critically low oxygen levels, giving him only a 30% chance of survival. Our spirits hit rock bottom when my mother received a call to consider his end-of-life planning and say our final goodbyes. That conversation with dad was the lowest point of my life.
The next few days were the longest we have ever faced, with dad on intubation and mechanical ventilation. And finally, a breakthrough. After almost 2 weeks on a ventilator, the tireless efforts from the health care team were successful. My father’s condition began to improve! He was soon discharged and spent 2 weeks in rehab, getting stronger every day.
Paying it forward
Do you know the best part? My father is back to work now, doing what he loves, taking care of others, just the way he has been cared for at NYGH.
The Emergency Department (ED) at NYGH is often the entry point for all care at the hospital, including for patients with COVID-19 like my dad. But the ED needs more space. As our community’s needs expand in the face of unpredictable emergencies like a pandemic, it is critical that NYGH has more space in its ED to make sure it can continue to save more lives. Your gift can play a part and impact the future of so many families like mine.