Helen-Claire Tingling

We don’t always know the impact of our kindness. The listening ear we provide, the words of reassurance and the hand we extend without a moment’s thought; all these have the power to replace worry with calm and fear with relief. This is the kind of compassionate care provided by the dedicated staff at NYGH. And that’s what Helen-Claire Tingling will remember the most.

As you’ll read in her letter below, Helen-Claire was treated with state-of-the-art technology and skilled physicians and nurses, while in the midst of the pandemic. She now looks back on her time at NYGH with fondness, knowing she survived because of the people who cared for her with professionalism and compassion.

Read Helen-Claire’s letter of appreciation below:

“Take a deep breath, Helen-Claire, and go to sleep. We’re going to look after you, and when you wake up, it will all be taken care of.”

Spoken by the lead surgeon, those were the last words I heard before the anaesthetic took me under.

At home recovering after this Christmas surgery, I’m reflecting on the calm of Dr. Pinchuk and his team, and it fills me with wonder.

How is it possible for surgical teams to emanate such an air of reassurance? I know they have had years of training and experience; I know they also have continuous professional development — but still: they are human beings.

How are they able to create this bubble of calm in the operating theatre against the current back drop of social unrest?

Entering NYGH for numerous tests and procedures over the last many months, I have seen fellow patients made anxious by the need for surgery during pandemic shut-downs and staff shortages. For many, having to enter without familial support for surgery is panic-inducing. It’s the worst of times.

It’s impossible to escape the multitude of divergent opinions about the right way to fight the pandemic: these masks over those, this protocol above that one. So many opinions demanding to be heard. The hospital, in these times, is like a battle zone; and keyboard warriors writing far from the action about decisions most of whom will never be qualified to make, are not helpful.

I am astonished at the ability of the medical team to shut out this noise and focus on all the details – large and small – involved in major surgery. Arriving at the hospital at 6 a.m. to begin paperwork, I have no idea when the staff’s shifts began. After numerous required steps, I am on a stretcher with a nurse checking my vitals.

Dr. Brian Pinchuk and Dr. Ron Symoji

Dr. Brian Pinchuk & Dr. Ron Somogyi

They let me walk into the operating room unaided, and I am humbled by their collective humanity: the way each is introduced to me. The way the anaesthesiologist explained the need to try the IV in a different place when my first vein wouldn’t cooperate. The surgical assistant, realizing the oxygen mask was too tight on my face, quickly correcting the pressure. Dr. Pinchuk, referencing me by name when he provided my overview to the team, ensuring I was still being seen as a person and not just a case number. Dr. Somogyi calling me in the evening to check on me, and my family doctor, Dr. Jesin, calling me on Boxing Day.

I offer profound thanks to all for their dedication. Thank you for having the strength and focus to look after those of us needing life-saving surgery during these angry times.

I expect the surgical team who looked after me so well are representative. I appreciate all health workers; and I particularly thank Drs. Brian Pinchuk, Ron Somogyi, Michael Yang, and Bruce Topp; and nurses Kieran Persaud, Judy Lee, and Rebecca Lei.