Breakfast and updates from Winchester District Memorial Hospital


The Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) held a Community Ambassadors’ Breakfast on May 18th at the McIntosh Country Inn and Conference Centre in Morrisburg.

The breakfast got underway with a brief overview of what has been happening in Winchester over the past year in the following areas: primary care; acute care; seniors’ care; community and health partners; education and research; and, technology.

CEO Cholly Boland touched on several advancements during his presentation, including the fact that “the area served now includes part of South Ottawa.”

According to Boland, the WDMH is becoming a Centre of Excellence for Rural Health and Education. In fact, he reported that more medical residents are becoming interested in WDMH. Last year, there were 50 applicants for only two resident openings whereas this year there were 75 applicants for only two resident openings.

Boland, who is now the administrator for Dundas Manor, said that he couldn’t comment on plans for Dundas Manor yet as he’s “still learning.”

Following Boland’s presentation, Dr. Jim Blakslee, chief of surgery, spoke about the women’s cancer program in Winchester.

“One of our focuses in surgical services is to take on women’s cancers,” said Blakslee. However, the hospital doesn’t just focus on  surgery, but rather on the whole cancer continuum from diagnosis forward.

He informed the attendees that “any woman aged 50 and up should be getting a mammogram every two years. You don’t need to be referred by your doctor. You just call the hospital.”

He pointed out that if 200 women have a mammogram, 16 will need more testing. Out of those 16, one will discover they have breast cancer.

“We’ve streamlined that process,” said Blakslee, “women used to go back to the family doctor, but we’ve eliminated that.”

“We’ve at least shaved two weeks off” the process. 

WDMH provides a “safe, nurturing environment close to home,” he continued.

While Winchester is providing more cancer services than before, there are still some things that require a trip to Ottawa. Chemotherapy can be done in Winchester, but for radiation therapy, patients must still travel to Ottawa.

Linda Johnson, a registered nurse working in the oncology department, said “we have a breast cancer program that we’re very proud of in Winchester.”

“Our role is just to support them, give them the information and be there for them,” said Johnson of patients who are awaiting diagnosis or who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We sit and talk with them. We might see them several times throughout the journey.”

According to Johnson, there are six chemotherapy nurses and “100 per cent are de Souza certified. We’re all very proud to say we’re 100 per cent.”

The de Souza Institute, according to their website, “provides ongoing educational support, professional development and career counseling at no cost to Ontario nurses caring for oncology patients in any setting and phase of the cancer care journey.”

Johnson pointed out that while the community at large could benefit from a cancer support group, Winchester’s group of oncology nurses are there and ready to offer whatever support they can.

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