Imagine – both of your beloved parents experience life-threatening and unrelated medical situations, within moments of one another. This is the story of the Cameron family and how fate brought them all together at JoeAnna’s House.
On October 31, 2020 in Revelstoke BC, 46 year old Roberta Cameron was at home with her parents watching TV when her dad, Robert Cameron, went into Cardiac Arrest. Roberta immediately called 911 and with instructions from a calming voice on the other end of the phone quickly moved her elderly dad to the floor and proceeded to give him chest compressions. “To this day I still do not know how I did it”, recalls an emotional Roberta “the 911 operator talked me through it and I saved my dad’s life that night.”
One might think the story would end here, however as paramedics arrived and were loading Robert into the ambulance for transport to Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke, his wife Carol experienced a stroke.
With both cherished parents suffering from two of the most debilitating and potentially deadly medical situations that exist, Roberta broke the news to her brother Cory who lives over 4 hours away in Cranbrook, BC.
Speedy medical treatment with an advanced level of care was essential for a positive outcome for both Robert and Carol. The next day, Mom was transported to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops where she underwent emergency brain surgery, while dad was sent to Kelowna General Hospital where he became a patient in Interior Health’s world-class cardiac program. In fact, Robert Cameron was one of the first patients to be accepted into the newly opened Electrophysiology Lab (EP) at KGH.
Patients Heal Quicker While Near Loved Ones – It was Important for Robert and and Carol to Be at the Same Hospital: KGH
With both parents in different hospitals, Cory and Roberta divided and conquered; Roberta stayed with her mom in Kamloops and Cory in Kelowna with their dad. Within days of arrival at KGH the nurses in the Cardiac ward got wind of the fact that in 50 years of marriage the couple had never been apart. With an understanding that patients heal quicker while near loved ones, they worked diligently with the staff at Royal Inland Hospital and arranged for mom to be transferred to the rehab unit at KGH to be near her husband who was waiting for an implantable cardiovascular-defibrillator (ICD) device in the new EP Lab.
Just days later, Carol was transported to KGH, and after a teary reunion she and Robert could rest easy and focus on their recovery.
“A huge weight was lifted off of all us”, says Roberta. “As soon as Mom got here she regained her determination, so bright-eyed and happy to have us all here.”
With the entire family now in Kelowna, the siblings needed a find place to stay that was close to the hospital so they could easily visit their parents. Cory knew exactly where that place would be – JoeAnna’s House.
JoeAnna’s House Ensured Siblings Roberta and Cory Had A Place to Stay to Be Near Their Parents
Fatefully, in 2018 Cory had fundraised through JCI Kootenay in Cranbrook to help build JoeAnna’s House. Little did Cory know that someday he and his family would first-hand experience the services offered by this amazing home-away-from-home that was built by the generosity of donors, just like him. Talk about a full circle moment!
What has made a stressful situation a little easier is that this family was able to be together.
“As soon as the family was brought together”, says Cory, “I could see my parents’ improvement, being closer to each other, and us being so close to them. Staying at JoeAnna’s House meant that we did not have the expense or inconvenience of living in a hotel, we were so close to mom and dad, we didn’t have to take taxis and we were within minutes to see them. I can’t explain how impactful it has been to have a place like this for us.”
As the leading referral hospital for up to 1 million residents in the BC interior, at any given time, one out of every four beds at KGH is occupied by someone outside the Central Okanagan. A serious accident; a sick child; a baby coming too soon…every year, thousands of families from across the interior of British Columbia must travel from their homes in order access life-saving, specialist care at Kelowna General Hospital. JoeAnna’s House offers affordable, onsite accommodation with a calming and supportive atmosphere, a place to call home while going through some of the most stressful times of family’s lives.
Once dad had received his ICD, he was released from hospital and then also took up temporary residence at JoeAnna’s house himself, allowing everyone to still be together and close by to their mom and wife while she regained her strength and mobility from her stroke. After nearly 3 weeks, on November 23rd the entire family was able to go home to continue in the recovery for all involved.
“Our family definitely healed better from being together. From the nurses who arranged our mom’s transfer, to the caring staff at JoeAnna’s House and all of the generous donors who helped make JoeAnna’s House a reality, thank you.” says a grateful Roberta Cameron.
In yet another act of generosity, and an effort to give back, the Cameron family set up an online fundraising page to raise money to ensure JoeAnna’s House can continue to offer a place to stay for families for years to come.
JoeAnna’s House is owned and operated by the KGH Foundation and run by a small staff and a dedicated team of volunteers. The home is entirely funded through donations.