When Gail Beerman collapsed in the street, Guelph General provided great care

On a cold February night in 2011, Gail Beerman’s husband, Earl, took his last breath. His prostate cancer had spread to his bones and bladder, and the only thing the doctors at Guelph General could do was to keep him comfortable.

It was a very difficult time for Gail, but she was grateful for the hospital’s compassionate staff. “They were so good to him,” she recalls. “The doctors and nurses were so kind.”

After Earl passed away, Gail became a monthly donor to The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital. For her, it was a way to help ensure other people in the community received the kind of quality care Earl got.

Recently, Gail experienced that care first-hand. While walking to the pharmacy a few blocks away to refill a prescription, she blacked out, collapsing in front of a physiotherapy clinic. The next thing she remembers was opening her eyes and seeing the sidewalk an inch from her face.

Fortunately, someone coming out of the clinic heard the thud when Gail fell. He and one of the staff called an ambulance and kept her calm while they waited for it to arrive. “My guardian angel was looking after me,” she says.

Her guardian angel wasn’t the only one. When she arrived at the hospital, the doctors admitted Gail right away and started running tests. Soon, they discovered her new blood pressure medication had lowered her potassium and sodium levels. It was a very unusual reaction to a commonly prescribed medication, but if her levels had dropped much lower, her heart would have stopped.

Gail’s health team switched her medication. They put her on pills and an IV to get her sodium and potassium levels back to normal. She also had an MRI to check for eye damage. Gail praises the excellent care she received over the next two-and-a-half days, and describes the nursing staff as “super nice.”

Today, her bruises and scrapes have healed. Her new medication is working, and she’s back to her regular routines of church on Sundays, shopping on Wednesdays and going out monthly with her “Lunch Bunch.” “A bunch of us get together and go out for lunch, gossip and solve the world’s problems,” she says.

After getting discharged, Gail sent Guelph General a special donation, on top of her regular monthly contributions. Although scary, her collapse reminded her of the good work the hospital does — and the importance of knowing that you and your family, friends and neighbours will get the best care when it’s needed most.