Appointment scheduler a hero for patient in need

David Guttman (left) with his wife Marilyn.

One morning, David Guttman, an 80-year-old patient of the Urology Department at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), realized he had a major problem – the tube that drains his left kidney had dislodged.

Due to bladder cancer resulting in bladder removal in 2005, David received a nephrostomy tube – a catheter inserted into the kidney – that requires regular maintenance and replacements with the help of the Medical Imaging Department at TGH.

This uncommon issue had only happened once before, and David was forced to spend 24 hours in the Emergency Department (ED) before the tube was able to be replaced.

Eager to avoid a long and difficult wait he thought to try calling first, but wasn’t sure there was anything that could be done.

On that day, David happened to reached Marissa Efstathiou, Appointment Scheduler for the Medical Imaging Department at TGH. Marissa knew David from previous interactions and heard the worry in his voice. She wanted to do whatever she could to help this patient in need.

She managed to schedule him an appointment for that same day. David rushed to TGH and the procedure was successfully completed.

Doing whatever you can for your patients is what being part of TeamUHN is all about. Marissa was able to save David from a lengthy and stressful wait in the ED.

David was extremely grateful for Marissa’s kindness. “She made a major difference in my life that day,” he says. “What could have been 18 or 19 hours and a painful wait was handled in three hours.”

David wanted to thank Marissa in a special way. He made a donation in her name through Honour Your Hero, a program supporting Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation that allows patients and their families to give thanks for the care, compassion and support they received from hospital staff.

The honouree receives a certificate through Honour Your Hero for each donation, and commemorative pins to wear when they’ve been honoured multiple times.

“These employees are under a lot of stress and yet they care and take the time to help patients like me. They deserve to be recognized,” he says.

Marissa was grateful for the honour. “I won’t ever forget what he has done to donate on my behalf through Honour Your Hero,” says Marissa. “It was a very heartwarming way to acknowledge our work that is sometimes left unnoticed.”

David, who has been a patient of TGH for more than 25 years, feels that giving back to a hospital that has done so much for him is an obvious choice. While it’s often the doctors or nurses who receive accolades for their care, he knows that the entire team, from administrators to clinicians, deserve his gratitude.

“[TGH] is recognized as one of the world’s best hospitals and by honouring my hero, I feel I’m doing my part to help the hospital continue to provide wonderful care. It’s a win-win situation – I feel good supporting the hospital and recognizing the recipient for the work they do, and I hope it makes their day.”

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