Something special typically results when need meets cause.
For Theresa Rowland-McMullen, a need to honour her father’s battle with heart disease — combined with her desire to bring together entertainers from various disciplines — has resulted in her organizing Leap 2 The Beat, a fundraising extravaganna in support of cardiac care at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC).
The aptly named event is set for Leap Day — Saturday, February 29th — beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre in downtown Peterborough. The theatrical variety show will feature circus arts and acrobatics by Trellis Arts and Entertainment, dance routines by the Premiere Studio of Dance, and vocal performances by Kate Suhr, Danny Bronson, Ty Wilson, Silver Lining, and Rowland-McMullen herself.
Tickets cost $34, with a discounted cost for seniors and students, and are available in person at the Showplace box office (290 George St. N., Peterborough), by phone at 705-742-7469, and online at www.showplace.org.
The cause part of the equation revealed itself when Rowland-McMullen phoned the PRHC Foundation. She subsequently learned our regional hospital has identified the replacement of technology at its Cardiac Catheterization Lab (Cath Lab) as a pressing priority. To that end, PRHC Foundation has set a goal of raising $3.55 million over the next 18 months.
“This event is already creating a lot of awareness,” says PRHC Foundation president and CEO Lesley Heighway, noting government funding is available for hospital’s operational costs but not for equipment expenditures. “We’re thrilled Theresa has stepped forward with this really unique offering.”
According to Heighway, the two suites of PRHC’s Cath Lab performed 2,170 cardiac procedures in 2018-19 — with 213 of those procedures performed while the patient was actually having a heart attack.
“When equipment reaches the eight to 10 year timeline, it has really run its course,” explains Heighway, pointing out that PRHC’s Cath Lab is now more than 11 years old.
“The new technology that’s out there offers better visualization. The interventional cardiologist, who is doing the testing or inserting the stents, is looking at his work on a computer monitor to see if he’s working in the right place. The better visuals those physicians have access to, the more accurate they can be in their work.”
“The other big piece is a reduction in radiation exposure.With every new form of the technology, there’s a reduction in radiation exposure for the patient and for the staff in the Cath Lab. For longer cardiac procedures, where multiple stents have to be placed, you get to the point where radiation exposure becomes a concern and they have to stop the procedure. The reduction in radiation exposure that comes with the new technology is such a benefit to the patient and the medical professionals.”
Heighway adds that events that benefit the foundation, and by extension PRHC, are crucial to spreading the word about how donations for state-of-the-art equipment at the hospital actually save lives.
“People need to know that heart attacks are stopped in their tracks and lives are saved here every single day because of donor investment,” says Heighway, who has headed up the foundation for eight years now. “People’s personal experiences are so important.”
Rowland-McMullen certainly knows all about that. Her dad has had two quadruple bypasses, the first at age 34. Having access to Cath Lab services locally is huge, she says.
“My parents both worked full-time raising four children, the youngest a toddler at the time. Can you imagine being a parent and having to go to Toronto and have someone take care of four kids?”
Heighway notes there’s significance behind the Cath Lab fundraising campaign’s tag line, ‘Keep Your Heart Here’.
“If not for the Cath Labs, every patient who requires cardiac stents or TEE would be travelling,” Heighway explains, with TEE referring to Transesophageal Echocardiography, a test that uses ultrasound to make detailed pictures of the heart and its arteries.
“There was a time when that was happening, when all we did at PRHC was the diagnostic piece. We’d do an angiogram and, if the patient needed any further cardiac care, they were travelling somewhere else. Now all those patients are receiving care here. Keep Your Heart Here means exactly that — let’s keep this level of cardiac care here, and bring the next level here.”
Heighway references PRHC interventional cardiologist Dr. Warren Ball’s well-quoted mantra, “time is muscle”.
“Heart cells start to die as soon as a heart attack begins, so the sooner the patient can be treated the better,” she says. “With the partnership PRHC has with EMS, we have patients coming from Northumberland, Lindsay, Haliburton and Minden, and Campbellford. When EMS diagnoses someone having a heart attack, they trip the system and make the call. They go right to the Cath Lab where the team is waiting.”
For her part, Rowland-McMullen, who is theatrically trained, says she is excited to stage what will be “a great evening of entertainment”.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to come together and realize that heart disease touches not just one type of person,” she says, noting that February is Heart Month, a time to bring attention to the importance of cardiovascular health and what we can to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease.
“I’d really like to bring that to the table for others,” she adds. “Every single one of the performers has someone in their family that has been affected by heart problems or stroke. It’s meaningful for all of us to be on the stage.”
Meanwhile, Heighway says she’s confident that donors will step forward once again to ensure PRHC continues to be able to provide first-rate care for cardiac patients.
“The Cath Lab is entirely donor funded and we have made so many advancements in cardiac care over the last five years,” she explains. “Donors have very generously stepped forward to make that possible. We have physicians here that we would never have here if the community hadn’t stepped forward to bring those new procedures here.”
“Truly the best hospitals are found in the most generous communities. We’re working really hard to ensure world-class care continues be the standard here and that it’s available close to home. Our donors are the bedrock of all of that.”