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‘We feel incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful hospital with amazing staff close to home’ : One mother recalls the Respiratory Therapy team that saved her son

In the fall of 2021 Cassy gave birth to her son, Rhett, at Headwaters by scheduled C-section.
Rhett was born with breathing complications which included fluid in his lungs and required the support of our Respiratory Therapy team.

Immediately following his birth and while in the recovery room, the team assessed Rhett and hooked him up to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Our respiratory therapist and paediatrician determined that Rhett was going to need specialized care and arranged for him to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Southlake Regional Health Centre.

“As a mother you want to hold your baby the moment they are born, but also know that their health is the most important thing,” recalled Cassy.

The entire team at Headwaters kept Cassy and her husband Peter informed about what was happening and why, every step of the way.

Rhett spent nine days at Southlake Regional Health Centre. Once they returned home the family thought the worst was finally over but just over one month later Rhett again required medical attention.

Rhett had come down with a virus and was showing signs of respiratory distress. Cassy rushed him to our hospital where our team determined that Rhett was battling a severe respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, which can lead to pneumonia. The Emergency Department physician prescribed puffers and encouraged Cassy to return should Rhett’s symptoms worsen.

Later that evening, Rhett’s symptoms did indeed worsen, he began to decline quickly, and Cassy brought him back to the hospital. At triage, a Registered Nurse checked Rhett’s oxygen levels, got him into an isolation room in the Emergency Department, and quickly started Airvo, a specialized piece of equipment that delivers high flow humidified oxygen.  Rhett was closely monitored by the nursing team and a respiratory therapist.

“Melanie, the Respiratory Therapist, did not leave his side the entire time we were there. She was amazing at her job and had a calming presence,” recalled Cassy.  

Dr. Rebecca Woolnough, Pediatrician, arranged for Rhett to be transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Melanie, Respiratory Therapist, and Jason, Registered Nurse, shared with the team from SickKids the information about Rhett’s care and everyone worked together to stabilize him before transfer.

“We had no idea that SickKids will come to hospitals to do assessment on children, see the medical attention they require, and transfer them to specialized hospitals to be treated. We have now required this team twice with Rhett and cannot explain how thankful we are that this an option,” shared Cassy.

This was during a point in the pandemic when strict infection prevention protocols were in place at the hospital that allowed only one designated care partner at the time.

When Cassy realized that Rhett was going to require a transfer to SickKids, Peter rushed home to grab some essentials. Jason went out and personally collected the items from Peter and brought them back to Cassy and stayed with them until it was time to for Rhett to be transferred.

“It was those little moments, of just being treated like a human in such an abnormal time, that really meant the most to us,” shared Cassy.

Rhett spent seven days at SickKids before returning home and under the care of Dr. Woolnough, who has since provided ongoing support to Rhett in the pediatric clinic at our hospital.

“Although the bulk of Rhett’s treatment did not happen at Headwaters, the beginning and arguably the most crucial time was spent there. We feel incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful hospital with amazing staff close to home,” shared Cassy.

Today, Rhett is an energetic little boy and the best addition to his family who feel blessed to have him home.
Photo caption: Rhett, in Cassy’s arms with Peter and his older brother, Hudson.