No ordinary walk in the park for a cardiac nurse, patient and cardiologist

June 30, 2017 |

The sequence of improbable events that unfolded on May 11 at an off-leash dog park in Etobicoke and culminated at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), remain remarkable to the patient, nurse, and doctor involved.

It’s a narrative that is best told in their own words.

Sylvia Wood, cardiac nurse in the coronary intensive care unit, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, describes “going into nurse mode” upon seeing a man in distress while off-duty and walking her dogs in an Etobicoke dog park. She recounts in breathless, explicit palpable detail the fateful evening she met Ivan de Souza. “I was talking to another person in the park who saw a man face down not moving on the ground. He said ‘oh my gosh’, so I turned to look. When I saw him and the way he was face first in the dirt, I knew it was bad. I ran over, and as I rolled him over and he was non-responsive so I asked the man with me to call 911. He was pulseless, so I started CPR.”

Ivan de Souza suffered his second heart attack almost 26 years to the date of the first. de Souza went into cardiac arrest while out for an evening walk with his poodles Ellie and Manon, at a park near his Toronto home.

No one could have predicted this tremendous outcome given the severity of the events that unfolded. Thanks to Sylvia, Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, Dr. Floras and Dr. Overgaard, and the amazing team at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Ivan is at home with his dogs today.

Read more in the UHN News Story

A Nursing First for London

May 12, 2017 | ,

London, Ontario London Health Sciences Centre Nurse Practitioner Adrienne Fulford is the first nurse in London and the South West Local Health Integration Network (South West LHIN) to receive the prestigious de Souza Advance Practice Nurse (APN) Designation. She becomes only the fifth nurse in all of Ontario to receive this honour.

The de Souza Institute is an innovative learning centre dedicated to cancer care excellence and since 2008 has provided ongoing educational support and professional development to approximately 9,000 clinicians. In order to obtain the de Souza APN Designation Adrienne completed extensive course work as well as a 150 hour clinical fellowship.

“Adrienne is a true leader and being the first de Souza APN from the London area is an extraordinary accomplishment. She travelled great distances and committed hundreds of hours to obtain this designation,” said Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, Executive Director of de Souza Institute. “Her fellowship focused on exploring the treatment decision making process in cancer care, which is often complex and making it better. She brings this profound knowledge and expertise to London Health Sciences Centre to the benefit of patients and staff.”

“The designation from the de Souza Institute offered me the opportunity to combine my two great professional passions – continued learning and making a difference in the lives of patients,” says Adrienne Fulford, Nurse Practitioner, Hematology Oncology, at London Health Sciences Centre. “I am now able to better support our older adult acute leukemia patients and families with information, clarification and guidance through a decision making process that connects the information we provide with their values and expectations.”

The demand for nurses with specialized skills in cancer care is continuing to grow. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer within their lifetime and 1 in 4 Canadians will die of cancer. The de Souza Institute and London Health Sciences Centre are two outstanding organizations focused on improving the cancer care experience for patients and families by ensuring they have access to quality information and the best cancer care nurses.


About de Souza Institute

Established in 2008, de Souza Institute, in partnership with University Health Network, Cancer Care Ontario and funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, provides ongoing educational support, professional development and career counseling to nurses caring for cancer patients and families. To learn more about de Souza Institute visit

Contact Information:
de Souza Institute
Deyan Kostovski

Profiling de Souza Nurse Associate Myra Henderson

May 11, 2017 | ,

Nurses deliver care in a variety of settings, it can be in a hospital, a community clinic, or in someone’s home. Myra Henderson is an RN, de Souza Nurse Associate who works at the Manitoulin Health Centre, a small hospital in Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario which includes generations of Indigenous people. She shares with us some stories about what it is like to be a nurse in this environment.

Soon after graduating from Langara College in Vancouver, Myra wrote her nursing exam and moved across the country to start work at the Manitoulin Health Centre.

Adjusting to a new job in a new small town presented some predictable challenges. There was a no local public transportation on the island. As a nurse, there was a lack of specialized training and support to manage complex clinical situations. Tele health could be very helpful but gaps in specialty care, in cancer treatment for example, remained significant. There was no CT scanner in remote areas and nursing shortage was the most acute at night and on weekends. Myra appreciated the educational support from de Souza Institute, its high quality and access. She considered such support crucial to rural nurses who had fewer resources than nurses in urban areas.

Despite many challenges, Myra also pointed out the huge rewards working in remote area. At the Manitoulin Health Centre, aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health care professionals, traditional/medicine peoples/healers often work together. Myra explained that being able to meet people who could trace their roots in the town for as far back as a century and more was an eye opener. They were so in touch with the land, they based their livelihood on fishing, hunting, logging and farming. As a nurse, Myra learned from patients and families, and her knowledge on the importance of cultural awareness and cultural safety helped her practice greatly. She would involve the community elders when delivering care to indigenous people, and facilitated the use of native language and traditional ceremony where possible.

Myra said that it was important to respect people’s preferences for traditional medicines and that cultural practices could be interwoven with the care. For example, a patient with diabetes who believes in the healing power of maple syrup could be encouraged to drink only maple sap, which contains 40 to 60 times less sugar per volume, and yet still has the same healing properties.

Myra also highlighted the unique strength of indigenous people, that is, the large extended family. Even though transportation remained a challenge on the island, family members would always make the journey to the hospital. Myra emphasized the importance of communicating with the patient and the family member most responsible for caring for the patient, but also ensuring that the extended family was fully engaged in the discussion.

Nurses practicing in rural and remote areas often have a wide range of knowledge and skills. At the beginning of her career, Myra was very involved the obstetrical program and worked on the medical/surgical floor and chronic care ward. Now she is a full time nurse at the emergency department but also works in endoscopy clinics, helping cancer patients and survivors. Because of nurses like Myra, Canadians living in rural and remote parts of this country have access to high-quality nursing care.

#YESThisIsNursing at the Manitoulin Health Centre.

#YESThisisNursing at UHN

May 9, 2017

No two days are ever the same for a nurse. Although they have their own routine, each day represents new patients, new challenges and new learning opportunities. Nurses are continuing to deal with the expanding traditional and non-traditional roles that they are expected to perform on every shift. How do nurses continue to do the … Read more

National Hospice Palliative Care Week 2017 Message

May 8, 2017

May 7th to the 13th marks National Hospice Palliative Care Week. Over the next few days, activities and discussions will take place all over the country informing Canadians about high quality hospice palliative care. At de Souza Institute, we developed an online course, iEPEC-O (based on the “Education in Palliative and End of Life Care-Oncology” … Read more