There aren’t many people with as diverse a history with, or greater appreciation for, Regina’s hospitals than Ken Curtis. He can point to two life-changing events that happened at Regina’s General Hospital (RGH). One changed the course of his life, while the other literally saved his life.
“I was working for the ambulance service in 1972 and we brought a patient in to the emergency department,” Ken explains. “Patti was a nurse, and just happened to be working that day. I introduced myself, one thing led to another, and we were married less than a year later!”
Following their whirlwind courtship, life for the married couple was fairly routine. They worked, raised a family, and Ken retired from his position as a management consultant in 2013. Three years later, he made his second eventful trip to the RGH.
“I was sitting on the couch at home reading, when suddenly my chest felt like someone had hit it with a baseball,” Ken recalls. “I was actually supposed to go to our cabin alone that weekend to close it down for the season. Thank goodness I didn’t, because I ended up having a heart attack. Patti shipped me off by ambulance to the hospital, where they saved my life.”
Open heart surgery was performed on Ken at the Mosaic Heart Centre to bypass five blockages in his coronary arteries. Once he was fully recovered, he felt the need to offer tangible thanks for the life-saving care he received. So, he started volunteering at the hospital twice a week, visiting with cardiac patients and answering their questions.
“I think it benefits the patients to speak to someone who has been through what they’re going through,” Ken says. “For me, it’s a chance to say thanks, and to let people know you can go on to lead a very full and active life after open heart surgery.”
His volunteer commitment is just one of the ways Ken gives back to the hospitals. He is a monthly donor to Hospitals of Regina Foundation and has supported the Cardiac Care Unit’s annual fundraising walk/run and the Z99 Radiothon in support of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at RGH.
Ken is determined to savor every moment of his second chance, including a trip to Phoenix on the one-year anniversary of his surgery, where he raced dune buggies in the desert, and stock cars on a NASCAR.
“Ken’s story is a wonderful example of the importance of supporting the highest quality cardiac care for people in our community,” said Lisa Green, vice-president, development, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Every year, close to 500 open heart surgeries are performed at the Mosaic Heart Centre, giving people like Ken an opportunity to live better lives. We’re grateful to the community, including our monthly donors, for supporting those efforts.”