Maybe it’s the fact that I’m heading into my first-ever holiday season as Medcan’s Chief Medical Officer, but as I look over the year that’s passed I’m struck by the number of lives that we’ve touched in the various parts of our organization. When I consider the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters whose health has been secured just because a Medcan team member trusted a hunch to order that extra test—it somehow becomes all the more worth it. (Please note that we’ve changed some details to maintain client anonymity.)
From Medcan nurse Lexis Ross comes this story of a female client getting her Annual Health Assessment. The client didn’t think she wanted to get a mammogram done. She didn’t need one, she thought. After all, she didn’t have any family history. Nor did she have any risk factors. But the staff here urged her to have the test all the same. The mammogram was complimentary, and represented a good way to get a baseline that we could compare in future years. But the mammogram showed something that was troubling. A Medcan MD suggested a follow-up breast ultrasound later the same day. This patient ended up being diagnosed with cancer in both her breasts. Since then she’s had her double mastectomy and is now cancer free—with continual monitoring by her specialists and through Medcan’s MCare program.
Year-Round Care Patient Support Centre manager Lisa Wroblewski suggests as her catch of the year the story of the client diagnosed by ultrasound with a dilated aorta at an outside clinic. The aorta is the main artery leading away from your heart. Typically it measures about 2 cm in diameter. This man’s aorta was more than twice that size, at 5.5 cm. Without emergency surgery, he was in danger of a rupture that often results in internal bleeding and death. His regular GP told him that the wait to see a surgeon at Sunnybrook was three to six months. Dr. Burnstein saw the patient in Medcan’s Year-Round Care clinic, and worked with the referral team to find a surgeon at UHN who could see the man within three days. That surgeon sent him straight to the ER—and he had his life-saving surgery just days later.
We frequently see clients from outside of Toronto who drive in to the city to get an Annual Health Assessment for piece of mind. One client drove nearly three hours from his rural Ontario town. He told us, almost as though he was embarrassed, that he didn’t have any health concerns himself, but that his wife had pushed him to come. It was lucky that she did. A routine examination prompted a prostate biopsy that showed cancer so serious that it warranted rapid surgery. The surgeon told the man that the diagnosis likely saved his life.
The thirtysomething Bay Street executive arranged an appointment in our Year-Round Care Clinic complaining of a persistent headache and blurred vision in her left eye. The eye also was abnormally sensitive to light, and overall, her left eye felt strange. She did say that she had a history of migraines. The headache had started a week ago, she said, during a business trip, and the symptoms had come and gone ever since. The combination of an abnormal headache with a change in the client’s visual pattern troubled the attending physician, who referred her to UHN’s Transient Ischemic Attack and Minor Stroke Unit at Toronto Western Hospital—where an MRI revealed the young woman had experienced two small strokes, or blood vessel blockages, in her occipital lobe, which control’s the body’s ability to see. The takeaway for our staff? Young people can have strokes, too.
Dr. Nelson Ferreira suggested a case involving a middle-aged man who said he felt great. He exercised regularly and wasn’t taking any medications. Everything seemed fine all the way through his Annual Health Assessment until the abdominal ultrasound showed a suspicious mass on his kidney—and a follow-up MRI confirmed a renal-cell carcinoma. A urologist arranged to remove the cancerous kidney and the patient has made a full recovery.
After a year of changes that saw us roll out Electronic Medical Records and numerous other service improvements, the Medcan team will be turning our attention in 2020 to physical expansion and the Annual Health Assessment to make it even more time-efficient and effective. The changes are certain to make life-touching stories like the ones in this column even more frequent.
Learn more about Medcan’s Annual Health Assessment. Call (416) 350-5900 to arrange an appointment.