Uplands golf tournament makes a difference

Royal Jubilee Hospital a model for cardiac care

For 35 years the Uplands Golf Club Heart Tournament has been an example of how a dedicated group of people can make a difference in a community. The annual tournament supports the cardiac care unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital and has raised $1.94-million since it was first held in 1977.

“Proceeds from the tournament have gone to support the purchase of vital cardiac care equipment,” said John Matthews, Uplands Golf Club General Manager. “They have one of the finest units in the country at Royal Jubilee, and I like to think that we’ve helped to make it that way.” He said that it’s a level of pride that’s shared by the entire Heart Tournament Committee, a collection of volunteers, golfers and non-golfers alike, who are united by their commitment to the hospital’s cardiac unit.

In 2012 the tournament raised $140,000 for the purchase of three cell savers, vital heart surgery equipment. In previous years they have purchased everything from cardiac care beds to cardiac monitors and ECG machines.

Matthews said the level of commitment tournament organizers have shown has a personal element. “They take pride in what they’ve helped to create,” he said.

That’s especially true of the members of the tournament committee who have personal reasons to appreciate the quality of care at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

John Martin, 70, is the current chair of the Heart Tournament Committee and worked for the event for four years when, on the long weekend of July 2012, he suffered a bee sting. He began to experience what he thought was an allergic reaction to the sting and was confused because he’d never had a problem with insect stings in the past. “I’d been stung 100 times in my life, and never had a problem,” Martin said. He made his way to Royal Jubilee where he learned that he’d actually suffered a heart attack. “That surprised me even more. I’d never had heart problems of any kind,” he said.

His surgery to install two stents to relieve an artery blockage happened almost immediately.

“My operation was at 4 p.m. and I was discharged by 8 p.m. I went home and had supper,” he said with a laugh. “That’s how good these people are.”

Martin was playing golf a week later.

In the case of Ian Barrodale, 73, the severity of his illness was more profound. He’d participated in the Heart Tournament since its inception and was a healthy and active individual when he began to experience increasing shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with a failing aortic valve and in 2007 was admitted to Royal Jubilee where he had a valve replacement and a triple bypass surgery. The operation was a success and Barrodale was discharged to take part in a three-month rehabilitation program. Five years later, in May 2012, he was forced to have a second valve replacement.

“That second operation took six hours and the level of expertise of the doctors there undoubtably saved my life,” said Barrodale.

He and his wife were so grateful for the work of the staff at the Royal Jubilee that they made an additional contribution to the cause in 2012 by purchasing an oximeter for the cardiac care unit, a piece of equipment for which Barrodale’s doctor had expressed a need.

“I will never regret working for and supporting this cause,” said Barrodale. “Surgeons come from all over the world to study here. I would never wish someone a heart experience, but if you’re going to have one, this is a good place to be.”

The Royal Jubilee heart health unit is internationally recognized for its care of patients who are receiving treatment for heart attacks and those who have undergone open-heart surgery. It’s a leader in providing intervention procedures, elder-friendly initiatives, and outpatient rehab programs. It is also a referral centre for residents all over Vancouver Island and throughout British Columbia. Approximately 900 patients a year receive open heart surgery at Royal Jubilee.

More information on the Heart Tournament can be found at ugcheart.com.

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