When the Langley Memorial Hospital foundation asked Dr. Willem DeVynck to be the “face” of the Emergency Response Campaign, he had no idea exactly what that meant.
But he quickly learned.
And he’s been reminded of it every day for more than a year now, on the drive into work, as he literally sees a huge picture of himself erected on a billboard at the entrance to the hospital – not to mention on smaller “It’s Your Turn To Be A Hero” signs and posters around the hospital grounds and buildings.
“I had no idea that they planned to make my face so big… anyone who had driven down Fraser Highway – past the hospital in recent months – understand what I’m talking about,” said DeVynck, an emergency department physician at LMH.
Would he do it again? Maybe not the gargantuan sign, but the 54-year-old physician – who’s been a doctor for 29 years, almost 15 of those serving Langley – said he is honoured to be part of the emergency department, and consequently honoured to help fundraise for the new and much expanded ER, as well as the MRI suite.
He shared his personal perspective on the current ER situation, and how he believes care can be improved with the new ER, during the LMH Foundation’s annual gala.
The primary goal of this year’s gala was to push the Emergency Response Campaign over its $15-million fundraising goal, and that effort was achieved – in spades. Starting the night at the $12.8-million mark, donations skyrocketed to $17 million before the end of the evening.
And that's a wrap on tonight's Old Hollywood Gala benefiting Langley Memorial Hospital & our Emergency Response campaign. Together, we've raised $17 million towards a new ER and MRI Suite! Thanks to all our donors, sponsors, volunteers and staff for their hard work & generosity. pic.twitter.com/DSd0XpUiOT
— LMH Foundation (@LMHFoundation1) June 2, 2019
One doctor’s perspective
“Right now, the emergency staff and I work in an environment that is challenging to say the least,” Dyvnck told the 400-plus crowd of gala supporters.
“One-size-fits all spaces mean patients requiring acute care have the same bed and treatment space as the patients waiting for stitches or a minor treatment,” he explained, praising the people he works with – calling them “passionate” and “exceptional at providing quality patient care” in less than ideal conditions.
When the ER was originally built, it was intended to support up to 68 patients a day. It currently supports more than 120 each day.
He noted that the team has to be “creative” with the space they have, and that care can sometimes be delayed until an appropriate spot comes available.
The expanded ER, which is under construction now and slated to open by mid-January 2021, will increase the number of treatment spaces from 31 to 49.
It will also create a dedicated pediatric waiting area for children, and offer so much more from this doctor’s perspective.
“Pressure on the current space remains a daily challenge, but today the outlook for Langley is much improved,” he said, thanking donors in the room for all their contributions.
“This past year, I’ve witnessed such great support from the entire community,” he said. “Speaking with so many donors during this campaign has really reinforced for me why I enjoy living and working in Langley.”
The husband and father of four called the support offered during this campaign – including at the recent gala – “really humbling.”
He expressed appreciation that so many have given whatever they can financially to help improve emergency health care in this rapidly growing community.
“Because of your support, we will soon have a department that is the right size to meet the needs of our community,” he said.
But it’s more than just increasing the number of beds – which it will by almost 60 per cent – but it’s about enhancing the quality of care that can and will be provided in the new ER, he said.
“All treatment areas will provide increased privacy and room for loved ones,” the physician noted, saying the space will improve bedside care and treatment by also having much more necessary equipment readily accessible.
“The new emergency department and MRI suite will allow us to stop troubleshooting a space and a facility that’s not set up for modern care and to stay focused on what we do best – providing the best care possible to our patients,” DeVynck said.
He concluded, it’s not only the patients who are looking forward to this new space. He and his fellow physicians, as well as nurses, orderlies, social workers, paramedics, and all other health care staff at LMH can hardly wait.