The Alumni Gives Back

As part of its mandate, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) Patient Alumni Association (Alumni) works to improve patient comfort and care by working with UOHI staff, patients and their families to identify opportunities for projects that support patient wellbeing. Since its inception in 1976, the Alumni has spent over five million $ on these projects. Projects range from buying medical and technical support equipment; to contributing towards training opportunities for hospital staff, patients and their loved ones; to helping individual families in need by covering emergency expenses.

A few examples of projects that the Alumni funded in 2019:

The MOTOmed: It started out as a piece of novelty equipment when the Alumni purchased one almost 10 years ago, but it has become such an indispensable and intensively used tool that the Alumni recently bought a second one. The MOTOmed is a mobility trainer that can be used by a patient who’s lying down. This means that bedridden patients who would be otherwise unable to build any mobility can begin building some strength earlier, and research has shown that the sooner a patient gets moving, the faster their recovery will be. In addition, the machine is able to detect whether a patient is pushing actively or if they need some help, and will supplement with movement depending on the patient’s mobility. If patients are very weak, this allows them to work at their level and build strength. According to the physiotherapy team, patients and family members love it – the MOTOmed empowers and motivates patients to get back to health.

Walkers: While the Heart Institute has many standard walkers, the Alumni purchased 6 bariatric walkers that have a wider seat and can support more weight, making them essential for heavier patients weighing up to 452 lbs.  Prior to this purchase there weren’t enough of this type of walker – now that the Heart Institute has more, the physiotherapists no longer have to move them between units. It also means that a walker can be left with a patient for longer, creating more independence. The physiotherapy team find these walkers very useful and helpful, saying the equipment gets patients up and moving faster, which speeds recovery.

Toiletry kits: As a result of consultation with the nursing staff to identify the needs of patients and their families, the Alumni purchased and assembled 4,000 toiletry kits, comprised of a toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo. Patients and their families often arrive at the hospital in an urgent and unplanned way, and for this reason they are frequently in need of a few basic items like those included in the toiletry kits. As of December 2019, these kits are provided to people who do not have these basics upon their arrival at the hospital. They are a new addition to the support offered by the Alumni. So far, patients have greatly appreciated the kits they’ve been given. 

Project funding is only one component of how the Alumni is involved as a strategic partner with the UOHI.  In addition, our priorities for the coming years include, among others, engaging patients to inform and improve the patient-centred care offered by the hospital, integrate patient alumni into the Heart Team concept, and reaching out to alumni through the hub and spoke model. To learn more about what we do, please take a look at our Patient Alumni Report.  

We continue to strive to find ways to support and build community for patients and their families. If you would like to become involved with the Alumni, please contact us: