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Your Donations Make a Difference!

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation exists to serve you to ensure your passions and dreams come to life through your gifts made in support of the Health Sciences Centre. Your gifts have made a tremendous impact at the Health Sciences Centre. From gifts made to celebrate special occasions, to memorial gifts, to gifts made through a Will, you have shared your enthusiasm for health care that is second-to-none, here at home.

Here's a look at how your gift is making a difference! 


Dr. Ian Dobson, Chief of Anesthesia, demonstrates one of the new anesthesia care stations that was recently funded thanks to gifts from you.

Operating Room Gets New Equipment Thanks to You

The Operating Room at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is an area most people have never seen, but is one of the busiest areas in the building. With over 15,000 cases done annually, there is a critical need for up-to-date equipment to ensure each patient receives high-quality care.

Recently, new equipment was purchased, thanks to your donations. Chief of Surgery at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Board Director, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, Dr. Mark Thibert made the announcement, stating, “Our Operating Room is one of the most advanced in the province and patients can feel very confident in the quality of care they receive here. This funding provides the opportunity to enhance the care we currently provide and ensures we are well-positioned to meet future surgical needs.”

 Items funded were:

  • 5 new anesthesia care machines ($96,717)

  • 1 skin graft mesher ($5,000)

  • 1 TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) instrument set ($8,089)


Members of the team after a recent kissing stents procedure. The procedure allowed Gaetanne Roy to keep her leg.

New Vascular Services Providing Dramatic Results

People in Northwestern Ontario lose their limbs to amputation at a rate 2.7 times greater than the provincial average. Many of these amputations would not have been necessary if the patient had received appropriate care sooner. But a historic lack of cardiovascular services in this part of the province has contributed to the much higher loss of limbs found among patients here.

Gaetanne Roy of Nakina feels lucky to still have all her limbs. She was the recipient of one of the first bilateral aortoiliac kissing stent insertion procedures performed at TBRHSC in its history. The procedure was done by vascular surgeon Yaasin Abdulrehman and vascular interventional radiologist Anatoly Shuster. It was only because the hospital had recruited these two specialists as part of its first steps towards a cardiovascular service that the procedure was able to be performed here.

“Thunder Bay saved my leg,” she states unequivocally. 

Your donations ensure we are able to move forward with our proposal to bring cardiovascular surgery to Thunder Bay and help more people like Gaetanne.


Thanks to your gifts that were distributed through a Family CARE Grant, medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) at the Health Sciences Centre no longer have to walk to the other side of the lab for supplies, speeding up test times for better patient care.

Every Footstep Precious; New Fridge Makes Lab Testing Faster

“When you’re talking about getting tests done efficiently, every footstep is precious,” said Sheila Prus, Biochemistry Coordinator in the Clinical Laboratory at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. That’s why the Clinical Laboratory worked hard last year to improve efficiency for better patient care. Efficiency is important at such a busy place. On average, medical laboratory technologists or MLTs test approximately 2,500 patient samples every day including blood, swabs, and tissues.

However soon after their improvements, one of the fridges in the lab broke down forcing staff to use a fridge on the other side of the lab. Prus said it doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but in fact travelling back and forth to the other fridge slowed down testing times. “It sounds so basic. It’s just a kitchen fridge, but it’s a huge thing for us. We didn’t realize what an impact having one right there would have on turnaround times,” she said.

Now, thanks to donors like you and a Family CARE Grant, they have a new fridge to help keep those turnaround times down. 


PET molecular imaging laboratory works towards cutting-edge diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.

PET Molecular Imaging Laboratory Works Towards Cutting-Edge Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease

Currently, there are no definitive tests or confirmed biomarkers that can be used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. However dozens of research teams around the world are studying Glucocebrosidase (GCase) enzyme levels in the brain, which are lower in people with Parkinson’s disease. A few of those research groups – including scientists at the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute’s Molecular Imaging Lab – are using advanced positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging to detect the disease earlier and more accurately. 

“We hope to create a way to detect Parkinson’s disease early so that we can slow its progression and treat its symptoms earlier,” said Daniel Tesolin, a Master’s degree student.

“We modify the structures of the potential probe molecules to develop ones that have the best properties for a diagnostic PET imaging agent. If we find that we have good results, then we will use the cyclotron facility for radiolabelling (and then biological testing),” Dr. Shusheng Wang said. 

Thanks to your donations to support the cyclotron, this world-class research is happening right now in Thunder Bay. 


The cyclotron now has licensing to create isotopes for calibration and some research applications – in other words, “non-human” uses. Isotopes suitable for patient use will require approximately another year of safety testing and licensing.

Cyclotron Ships First Isotopes

Just over a year after the cyclotron was lowered into its bunker at the new Medical Services Building on Oliver Road, it produced its first fluorine-18 for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The isotope was used to calibrate the PET-CT scanner, ensuring that the scanner will properly identify cancer cells during diagnostic imaging.

The cyclotron now has licensing to create isotopes for calibration and some research applications – in other words, “non-human” uses. Isotopes suitable for patient use will require approximately another year of safety testing and licensing.


Once those procedures are put in place, the cyclotron will be able to make many of the isotopes needed for local patient diagnostic imaging and research applications. This is incredibly important for our patient care. Last year, three shipments of medical isotopes did not reach Thunder Bay in time to still be usable.

Your donation to the Exceptional Cancer Care Campaign ensured this vital piece of equipment was brought to Thunder Bay.


Carrie Haugenes (left), a nurse with the Health Sciences Centre’s Teledermatology Program, takes pictures of Shirley Maki’s hands. Those images and answers to predetermined questions are reviewed by a dermatologist for results within a week – and sometimes overnight.


New Telemedicine Service Vastly Increases Access to Specialists

Complex skin conditions often require the specialized care of a dermatologist. However due to the shortage of dermatologists in Ontario, it can take six months or more to see one. In Northwestern Ontario, the situation became worse when our only dermatologist retired in 2015. 

Enter the Teledermatology program, which began in January 2016. Any doctor or nurse practitioner (NP) can refer to the Teledermatology Program, just as they would any other specialist referral. Carrie Haugenes, a Registered Nurse with the program, calls the patient in for an appointment. During the visit, she takes pictures and asks a list of pre-determined questions about the patient’s condition. Once submitted via the secure OTN network, the dermatologist reviews the photos and the patient’s answers, then e-mails the report back to Haugenes, who forwards it on to the referring physician/NP and primary care provider (if not the same person). 

The real difference between this service and a face-to-face appointment with a dermatologist is speed. In Ontario – not just Thunder Bay – dermatological appointments are booked months in advance. On the other hand, referrals through the Teledermatology program can happen the same day in some cases.

Your donations ensure we're able to offer this innovative service and provide access to specialists in a timely manner.


Thanks to the life-saving actions of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Emergency Department, and the donations that support it, Don Hamilton (pictured above with his wife Mary) gets to enjoy another holiday season with his family.


Brought Back to Life: Don Hamilton's Story

After Don Hamilton suffered a coughing attack with difficulties breathing, he and his wife Mary went to the Emergency Department of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to check on his symptoms. "By the time I had parked the car, they had already whisked Don away and were taking care of him," recalls Mary.

Tests revealed that Don had suffered a 'cardiac event', which took a more serious turn when his heart later stopped while he was sleeping in the hospital. “Thankfully, they were able to resuscitate me using CPR and the defibulator machine to restart and restore my heartbeat," says Don. "Had they not been diligent in keeping me for observation and had I not been wearing a monitor, I would not be here today – no question about it. They not only saved my life – they brought me back to it!”

Donations play a large role in providing the equipment and programs that helped save Don’s life. He and his wife are grateful for everyone who has every donated, and hope to see such generous behaviour continue in the future.


The Gilbarts' were so grateful for the exceptional eye care that Verna recieved that they established an Ophthalmology Endowment Fund.


Eye Care Leads to Vision for the Future

When Verna Gilbart’s once-perfect eyesight began to decline at a rapid pace, she and her husband Lloyd were determined to find the best eye care specialists. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to look far.

Unwilling to gamble with Verna’s vision, the couple began researching to find the best specialists to whom they could turn for help. They were pleasantly surprised to find them in their hometown of Thunder Bay. “We are so fortunate to have access to such high calibre eye care right here at home,” Mr. Gilbart says. “My wife was able to receive immediate treatment, without the added hassle of travel.”

The Gilbarts’ gratitude for the exceptional care that led to Verna’s restored eyesight prompted them to donate to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation to establish an Ophthalmology Endowment Fund so that the best equipment is always available to patients in need of eye care.


Gwen Edwards still enjoys watchign her grandson grow thanks to donations in support of world-class eye care.


Seeing the Difference Donations Make

Gwen had never experienced any issues with her eyesight other than requiring glasses or contacts for distance. Then, at age 55, things suddenly changed.

When her eyesight began to deteriorate, Gwen initially thought it was age related. A visit with Ophthalmologist Dr. Dhurjon would prove otherwise. Tests revealed that Gwen was suffering from retinal vasculitis attributed to an auto immune disease which was causing inflammation in her retinas. Her eyesight was rapidly deteriorating to the point where she could notice a difference on a week-to-week basis. Thanks to the right diagnosis, Gwen was prescribed a medication to help.

Leading-edge equipment is what made Gwen’s timely diagnosis possible. In addition to the professional expertise of Dr. Dhujon, the ocular CT scan and angiogram equipment were essential to her diagnosis. “I am so grateful to anyone who has ever donated in support of world-class eye care,” she says. “With their help, I was able to access the technology that helped preserve my remaining vision.”


Donations have had a significant impact on breast cancer survivor Debora Prokopich Buzzi's life. She is grateful to live in a community that works together to make hope possible.


People Make all the Difference: How one survivor found comfort throughout her battle with breast cancer

Deborah Prokopich Buzzi's life was forever changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She was only 40 years old with no family history of cancer and no symptoms. Imagine how shocked she was to discover that she had two tumours in her breast, both of different origins. Fortunately, the LInda Buchan Centre of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre was there to help.

“Every person on my care team was fantastic - from the reception staff to my oncologist - everyone was so caring and professional. They made sure to go that extra mile for me,” she says. “As soon as I stepped foot in the building for my first treatment my fears disappeared. I knew they had a plan for me and that I was being taken care of. Even now - four years after my treatments – that great care continues.”

Debora is grateful for everyone who has ever donated in support of the Northern Cancer Fund of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. Donations helped fund the programs, services and equipment that saved her life. From the Linda Buchan Centre, to the We-Can fitness program and the Breast Cancer Support Group, donations help in every aspect from screening, treatment, and recovery.


Barb Thomson survived cancer twice, and is so grateful to everyone who's ever donated to the Northern Cancer Fund. Your donations helped save her life.


Battling Breast Cancer: Two-time survivor Barb Thomson's story

Barb Thomson knows her life was touched by people she'll never meet - people who donated to the Northern Cancer Fund - and it gives her an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Facing cancer is one of the most difficult things many women will ever face. Barb did it twice. The second time around her treatment took place at Regional Cancer Care Northwest at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. "It's remarkable," Barb says of the new facility."They're better equipped, the service is faster, it's a more welcoming place, and the people are calm and professional, yet caring and personable. The staff, I think, is the best in Canada."

That's the gift that generous donors gave to Barb - a future for herself and her family. Donations support the cancer screening, treatment and research that touches thousands of people like Barb every year, right here at home.


Debra Everts is grateful for every minute she spends with her family since experiencing a heart attack at age 37.


A Story from my Heart

As a 37-year-old mother of three, I can honestly say that the last thing I thought I had to worry about was a heart attack.

My life changed when I experienced chest pain while exercising using my Wii Fit at home. I went to the Emergency Department but all tests came back fine. A few days later I experienced an especially strong pain and went to the Emergency Department again . This time my tests came back with something shocking: It was a heart attack.

Thank goodness that our cath lab was there! The best part, aside from the great care, was the fact that I could stay in Thunder Bay for my procedure. It was so important to spend time with my family through this experience. It was vital to keeping my stress levels down and helped my recovery.

Thank you to the generous supporters of the Health Sciences Foundation for funding the many pieces of equipment necessary to keep these programs running. You made a huge difference in my life and I know that you have made in a difference in the lives of many others.


Donations to the Health Sciences Foundation helped Debra-Ann and her late husband Paul, Now she gives back to help others.


My Story About My Late Husband

My late husband Paul had cancer when he was younger and developed kidney problems from the radiation treatment. Had it not been for the treatment he received at the Health Sciences Centre, Paul would have been gone before we even had a chance to meet.

When Paul’s kidneys started to fail, he was given a catheter and trained for home dialysis. When our 10th anniversary rolled around the Health Sciences Centre helped us to send all of his equipment to our hotel in Banff so that we could take a vacation to celebrate. Unfortunately, Paul passed away from a massive heart attack shortly after.

The treatment and support we received from the Health Sciences Centre gave us an extra year and a half together along with the beautiful memory of our 10th anniversary. Thank you to all the generous people who have ever donated to the Health Sciences Centre. Your donations changed my life. I decided to donate to the renal unit in hopes that it will help more people like Paul and I encourage others to join me. Your donations could help others get the care that they need, close to home.

Thank you,

Debra-Ann Brown


Katherine Grimard and her 12-hour old son Logan, sitting with nurse Denise Pollari outside the doors at Labour and Delivery. Katherine said that the bench also came in handy late the night before when she was in labour, allowing her to walk around outside and then sit when she needed to.


Donations Give New Mothers a Place to Sit

Dr. Kristin Reid, a Family Physician in Thunder Bay who also does obstetrics, is always in and out of the Labour and Delivery entrance at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. She noticed a curious thing: there is no seating outside of the doors.

“I saw these pregnant ladies standing out there, waiting for their rides,” Dr. Reid said. “I thought: ‘They should have a place to sit.’

Labour and Delivery is a separate area of the Health Sciences Centre with its own doors and its own pickup and drop-off area for expectant and new mothers. It is a natural place to wait while the rest of the family brings the car around. Although it may save mother and baby a walk, it obviously would be more comfortable if they had a place to sit.

Now, thanks to Dr. Reid’s observation and a grant from the Health Sciences Foundation, they will. The bench was installed outside of Labour and Delivery in early April.

“It really is just a little thing, but hopefully it works out for everybody,” she said.

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation

Other Support

In addition to these initiatives, the Health Sciences Foundation continues to provide funding in support of:

The Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Cancer Screening and Assessment

The Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Cancer Screening and Assessment

Equipment and services in the Maternal Child Unit

Equipment and services in the Maternal Child Unit

TBayTel Tamarack House

TBayTel Tamarack House

Medical equipment and technology in all areas of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Medical equipment and technology in all areas of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre , including Renal Care , Neurosurgery and Trauma


Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation


Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation
980 Oliver Road  |  Thunder Bay, ON, Canada P7B 6V4  |  807 345 4673  |
OUR MISSION: To inspire the people of Northwestern Ontario to give generously to advance our healthcare at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

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