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Healing Hearts, Saving Lives


If you ask any one of our critical care nurses what they love most about working in our cardiovascular intensive care unit, they will all tell you the same thing:

“When they open their eyes for the first time, 
and realize they’re alive.  
That’s the most rewarding part.”

Jessica and Rachel are just two of the over thirty nurses who work in this life-saving unit where patients arrive immediately after undergoing cardiac surgery. To speak with them about their work is to realize it is not just a job,but a vocation.

“We spend most of our time with our patients while they are unconscious ensuring they are safe and recovering well. We often communicate directly with families and do our best to reassure them that their loved one is in good hands. When our patients wake up, we’re the first person they see and that is a feeling that is difficult to describe. It’s why we do what we do.”

Opened in 2003 as part of the cardiac surgery program at the St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, the cardiovascular intensive care unit is a high stakes environment where critically ill patients require our team of healthcare providers to make quick decisions to aid recovery.

While we perform nearly 800 of them every year at St. Mary’s, helping patients recover from open heart surgery is no easy task. The level of humanity that our nurses bring to their work is the hallmark of our hospital.

“These patients are compromised and completely dependent in the immediate hours after their surgery — they can’t walk, breathe easily, or even get dressed without our help. We treat them like family and make sure they have the dignity and compassion they deserve.”

When you ask Jessica or Rachel how important it is to know that our donors support their work, their thoughts turn to their patients. “We appreciate that donors to St. Mary’s help provide us with the equipment to do our work, but it’s the patients who really benefit from their generosity. Every day, we heal hearts and save lives and we couldn’t do it without the support of our donors,” they say.

This spring we are continuing to raise funds for a number of projects in our cardiac program including a new heart-lung machine for Jessica and Rachel’s cardiac surgery patients. With your help, we’ve built one of the finest heart centres in Ontario and hope you will consider continuing your support today.

On behalf of Jessica, Rachel and the nurses who represent the heart and soul of St. Mary’s, I wish you and your loved ones good health and happiness.


Peter Sweeney
St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation