Emergency care close by when every minute counts

Sandy and Hugh Mooney. Sandy is thankful for the excellent care she received at Richmond Hospital. - Richmond Hospital Foundation
Sandy and Hugh Mooney. Sandy is thankful for the excellent care she received at Richmond Hospital.
— image credit: Richmond Hospital Foundation

You never know where you’re going to meet someone who’s experienced amazing care at Richmond Hospital.

I first encountered Sandy Mooney by chance at White Spot Richmond Centre’s Christmas luncheon last year.

She was one of many people there who expressed their gratitude and support for Richmond Hospital by choosing to have lunch at the restaurant, which generously donated all proceeds, tips and staff time. Sandy shared her story with us then and we share it here with you now:

“After 30 years together in our house in Richmond, my husband and I knew it was time to move. Hugh and I spent months sorting through all of our possessions and by the end of August, we were enjoying a more compact life in our new condo, just a couple of blocks away from Richmond Hospital. Even though we were still unpacking, we anticipated a quiet end to a hectic 2013.

“We didn’t know that another drastic change was only weeks away.

“It began slowly, first as a pain on my right side. I thought it might be my appendix. Then the pain was on the left side. Soon, the pain was in the middle of my abdomen.

“When I started losing weight, I got really worried. I haven’t lost an ounce in 20 years, so I knew something was wrong. We went to see our family doctor early one Friday morning. He felt my stomach, and told Hugh to take me to emergency at Richmond Hospital immediately.

“At the hospital, our doctor’s diagnosis was confirmed: my large intestine had ruptured. Polyps, common in seniors, had obstructed my intestine and caused it to burst. Waste from my digestive system was spilling into my abdominal cavity. Without immediate surgery, gangrene would set in, spread through my body, and leave my husband a widower.

“When I was wheeled into the operating room that same day, I thought Hugh looked frightened. He told me later, ‘I knew you were in excellent hands. But I was terrified that the polyps would be cancerous.’

“During the five-and-a-half hour surgery, the wonderful surgeon, Dr. Daniel Kopac, removed a large section of my intestine—and all of the polyps. Thankfully, the polyps were benign.

“Hugh came to visit me in hospital twice a day for three weeks. If I had needed to go to elsewhere for surgery, it would have been impossible for him to make that trip, through heavy traffic, every day.

“Even after I returned home, Richmond Hospital continued to look after me, providing a whole continuum of care. The home care nurses came and helped with my recovery every day for a month. Hugh and I got to know them well, and appreciated all the care they gave us. Today, I’m recovering well—so well that Hugh and I are able to enjoy life and get back to what we love doing together. I can’t express how thankful I am that people like you choose to give to Richmond Hospital Foundation. You’ve given Hugh and me the precious gift of more time together!”

Watch for Sandy’s story in your mailbox this spring. If you did not receive your copy and would like to learn more, or if you’d like to donate to Richmond Hospital Foundation, please call 604-244-5252, or visit We welcome your donation!

Natalie D. Meixner is president and CEO of Richmond Hospital Foundation. See for information.

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