Together, our community cared for Kate Howells

Back in December, just before her birthday, Kate Howells felt a tingle on her face “like bugs under my skin.” When the feeling didn’t go away, she attended a walk-in clinic and was diagnosed with shingles. Anti-viral medication was prescribed, and Kate was sent home with a recommendation to return in a few days for a follow-up.

If you’ve ever had chickenpox — and almost all adults have or have at least been exposed to it — there’s a good chance the virus is still at large in your body. It can lie dormant for decades without causing any symptoms. But, in some people, the virus wakes up and travels along nerve fibers to the skin. The result is the distinctive and potentially damaging shingles rash that Kate was experiencing.

When swelling began around her eye, Kate returned to the clinic and was promptly sent to Guelph General. She says she knew it was serious because she was whisked through triage and quickly set up with intravenous antibiotics. The shingles had caused a secondary bacterial infection that threatened her sight.

While staff were busy and other patients needed attention, Kate says that she felt really well cared for. “The staff in the Emergency Department were superbly helpful. Everyone was calm, friendly and empathetic. It was clear that they understood I was frightened and miserable with my eye swollen almost shut.”

Staff explained to Kate about the medicine she would need over the next few days and gave her clear instructions for her appointments at a clinic in Kitchener where nurses would administer several more doses of intravenous antibiotics.

Kate wants people to know the Emergency Department staff treated her so quickly and made her feel safe. “I came in scared, and they calmed me down. They were truly compassionate and very professional.”

Kate shares that she had been unaware until a few years ago that the Hospital depended so much on donations. Since learning that fact, she’s been a regular donor. “It was shocking to find out that the Hospital can’t operate at the level it needs to without community support. If only people knew — it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a hospital functioning at its highest level. And that means local support.”

Thanks for your support and for sharing your story, Kate!