Bob and Marie Lonergan have witnessed multiple occasions in which the great people of our local healthcare have helped their family and delivered excellent care, right here at home. Their story starts with Marie’s mother, Laura James, who suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis. She received at home care from her son Charles (Chuck) with the assistance of VON. In fact, Chuck became friends with the nurses that would visit and care for his mother on a regular basis. He helped encourage them to upgrade to be registered nurses when a change in public funding put their current jobs at risk. One of those nurses was Brenda Paat, who went on to continue her education to become a Nurse Practitioner and is now working at Sault Area Hospital. Chuck and Marie were always so grateful for what they had done to help their mother. Chuck was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and passed away in January of 2003, but his legacy of caring for our community did not stop there.
Years later, Bob Lonergan was diagnosed with a heart valve problem and was told he would require surgery. In the meantime, he made a few extra visits to the Emergency Department at SAH with dropping potassium levels and a need for electrolytes. This turned into weekly doctor visits, tests, an array of new symptoms and rapid weight loss. Bob’s health was rapidly declining. He met with a Nurse Practitioner and Marie described what Bob had been going through over the past few months. The Nurse Practitioner, Brenda Paat, wanted to see if she could get a few moments of Hematologist Dr. Hill’s time, to look at some of Bob’s tests, due to the severity of his case. Dr. Hill looked over a few things, and ordered some very specific tests. Later that week, Bob was notified that he had endocarditis, a blood infection that was attacking his heart and aortic valve.
Bob was immediately started on a 6 week antibiotic therapy. Dr. Hill continued to monitor Bob’s health to ensure the infection was gone. Bob then had a successful open heart surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital to replace the aortic valve. The recovery was long and difficult but he eventually was able to return home. He underwent the cardio rehab program and Dr. Hill continued to monitor Bob’s blood through bi-monthly testing. Bob’s bone marrow was breaking down & he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Bob required a pricy chemo drug called ‘Vidaza’ to help slow down his MDS developing into Acute Myeloid Leukemia and increase his quality of life.
Dr. Hill fought for 8 months, eventually securing the drug. While not a cure, the benefits include a better quality of life. Bob and Marie are incredibly thankful for Dr. Hill and Brenda Paat’s dedication to our community’s healthcare and for working tirelessly to help extend Bob’s life.
Bob and Marie, have chosen to dedicate not only a majority of their estate, but also Chuck’s, to help future patients receive quality care at our local hospital. Their gift and legacy will help grow and maintain Cancer Clinical Trials and Research as well as Cancer Care Nursing Education at Sault Area Hospital.