Fundraising efforts involving a team who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro have resulted in new equipment for Windsor Regional Hospital’s neurosciences program.
Chief of neurosciences Dr. Dante Morassutti, Windsor/Essex Hospitals Foundation vice president Richard Vennettilli and two-time kidney transplant survivor Dennis Segatto set out on the 19,341-foot climb July 2015.
As part of the 10-day journey, the team organized three events which resulted in $70,000 in funds for the hospital.
The new equipment purchased includes several different occupational therapy tools for patients who have no or limited use of their hands. These switches help patients gain more independence in their hospital rooms, said Windsor Regional occupational therapist Kelly Hindermeier.
“Then there’s an education component involving all of the staff that are involved with that patient, so it’s set up consistently,” said Hindermeier. “That way they can have universal access whenever they’re either in bed or in their wheelchairs.”
Other new tools include two iPads to assist with redeveloping a patient’s speech and a sit-to-stand trainer for rehabilitation.
Ashley Stephen, a speech language pathologist, said the iPads give patients a more interactive experience and speed up some of the work. Previously, she said, the department was photocopying materials from books.
“The great thing is it saves us a lot of time in acute care, which is important because we’re so busy, so we can just bring the iPad to the room,” said Stephen. “It allows us to see more patients and bring it to their environment and you can just clean it off after.”
The climb which led to these items took five days up hill and two days down. Vennettilli said the idea began after he and Morassutti decided to lose weight together and then wanted to do something important.
“The truth is I’ve never been camping,” said Vennettilli. “Never slept in a tent or a sleeping bag or hiked. Never did anything like that, especially outside. That was all an awakening and a learning experience as well.”
He said it was the hardest thing he’s done and changed his perspective to think anything can be accomplished.
Segatto said he wanted to do the climb to prove people can have fulfilling lives and undergoing an organ transplant. While he had to decline the mountain after the second day due to a fall, he said the message still got out through the climbers who reached the top.
Both Vennettilli and Morassutti said making it to the mountain’s highest point – Uhuru Peak – caused them to become very emotional, which was documented in the film KiliKlimb from Sasha Jordan Appler.
“I guess when people ask me, I always describe it as being the most awesome, difficult and sickening thing all combined at the same time that I’ve ever experienced,” said Morassutti. “I didn’t expect being overwhelmed by the emotion at the top, so it’s really hard to put into words.”
One of the events which raised the funds was the Dream Climb, which involved running or walking up the 13 floors of 1 Riverside Dr. W., also known as the Chrysler Building.
The event will be back for a second year Jan. 16-17. Registrations can be made at www.dreamclimb.ca or by calling 519-973-4433 or 519-985-2656.
Though the Dream Climb will be a yearly event, when it comes to Mount Kilimanjaro Vennettilli said one climb was enough.