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Sarah's Story: “I couldn’t have asked for better care.”

Sarah Skagen is always on the go. Between volunteering, sitting on local Boards, and work, she doesn’t slow down for much. But in July of 2023, while at a friend’s cottage in Philips Bay, she suddenly began to feel unwell.

“I called an ambulance to take me to the Thessalon Hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack,” she shared. “They treated me, they were great, but then they sent me home.”

The next day Sarah wasn’t feeling any better, so she made her way to the Emergency Department at Sault Area Hospital.

A woman with curly hair and glasses, smiling and holding a small plush gallbladder toy.
Sarah posing with a plush gallbladder.

Sarah was in a lot of pain, but the ER Nurse (Samantha Barrett) who initially cared for Sarah was fabulous. “She was young, she was efficient, she was caring, she had a sense of humour, great bedside manner – absolutely incredible.”

Dr. Bodnar came in shortly after, and was concerned to see her. A month prior, Sarah had been to the hospital and they’d thought she had pneumonia. He told her she would be admitted right away. In just a few short hours, she was medicated, x-rayed, had an ultrasound and MRI ordered, and was being prepared to be sent up to 3A to await a surgical procedure.

Sarah’s care team discovered a large gallstone, and Sarah needed a scope to have it removed. “I turned very, very yellow – as yellow as Marge Simpson!” she joked. It was Dr. Gonzalez who removed the problematic gallstone, but he found more. Sarah would need her gallbladder removed later that week.

She was scheduled for laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery, and had to wait a few days before the procedure went forward. “The care team on 3A was really wonderful while I was waiting. I had incredible nurses – Emma Deschenes, Laura Liddiard , and Alyssa Laframboise were all excellent. Everyone – even down to the porters – had a great attitude.”

While Sarah started to feel better after the initial stone was removed, she knew if she didn’t take the time to have the gallbladder removed she would be back again before long. “Sometimes your body just forces you to slow down – I needed to listen to my body, so that’s what I did.”

A week after being admitted, Sarah was discharged – sans gallbladder. She is grateful her stay at the hospital was overall so positive. “Aside from being sick, it was a pretty good experience!”

Local donations to Sault Area Hospital Foundation makes surgeries, like Sarah’s, possible!

The minimally invasive surgical tools and scopes that were used in Sarah’s surgical procedures were funded through donations to Sault Area Hospital Foundation. Not only are they bringing local surgical suites up-to-date with the most recent technology, and enabling people like Sarah to recover faster from surgery – they’re helping medical teaching to happen in Sault Area Hospital. Large display screens in the operating room allow everyone, including students, to see what to see what is happening in high definition and in real time.

“I saw medical learners all around the hospital – in the imaging department, on the floors, in the operating room. Everyone was taking their time, and making lots of room for questions from the students. It’s so inspiring to see the next generation of care professionals getting trained at our hospital.”

- Sarah Skagen, Patient


Sarah's story shows how your donations make surgery accessible, right here in Sault Ste. Marie. Give today to support your local hospital.




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