Dr. Duncan Mackey
Treating patients like family – the kind of doctor you want on your side
Sometimes life takes a sudden turn and while it could go careening off in one, bumpy direction, fate seems to step in and set us on the right course. That fate can be as small, or as big, as happening upon the right doctor, in the right place, at the right time.
That’s how Dennis describes the circumstances that put him in front of Dr. Duncan Mackey, an emergency physician at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, over a year and a half ago. Initial thoughts/guesses of a hematoma in Dennis’s upper leg turned to a diagnosis of a stage 3 malignant tumor (sarcoma).
“[Dr. Mackey] understood the severity of my condition and made sure before I left the hospital that I had every test available to him to determine how advanced it was,” says Dennis, in his SAL nomination of Dr. Mackey. “He gave me his personal cell number and told me he would get me into an excellent specialist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, ASAP.
“He was on days off the next day but called my cell that evening to check on me and give me the number of the physician in Calgary and advised me on how to get in as quickly as possible,” continues Dennis. “He also had me come back the next day for an MRI and other tests to set me up for the appointment in Calgary.”
“I was able to see Dr. Monument at the Tom Baker within four days, get a biopsy and start treatments less than a month after walking into emergency. Even Dr. Monument told me he wasn’t sure how I knew Dr. Mackey, but I should be thankful he was on my side, as this was a big reason why I got in so soon.”
Over a year later, Dennis has had chemo, radiation and surgery. He’s back to work, and scans thus far have been clear.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. Thankfully it was Dr. Mackey that took me on that day in the busy emergency room. He treated me like family and went to bat for me,” says Dennis. “Furthermore, he’s since randomly contacted me a handful of times to check on progress.”
Dr. Wendy Sligl
Heart and soul, skill and dedication
How fitting that with this profile, we shine a light of recognition and honor on a physician who has been immersed for most of the past year in Alberta’s battle against COVID-19.
Dr. Wendy Sligl is an intensivist who also works in infectious diseases. Beginning last February and March – as the pandemic crept its way into Canada and Alberta – her practice emphasis decidedly flipped to attending to provincial and local responsibilities as part of responding to and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Thirza Carpenter is the colleague who nominated Dr. Sligl for recognition by the Shine A Light program. She says Dr. Sligl is “… an exceptionally motivated and empathetic physician [who] works very hard and long to make sure her patients get exemplary care … treating them and their families with incredible compassion” and who has never wavered in her commitment to her clinical practice and patients.
In the SAL nomination, Dr. Carpenter says, “As a physician, Wendy is exceptional. She has so much knowledge and is so diligent. When she sees a patient, she really addresses their issues” and, warns Dr. Carpenter, “when you consult her to see one of your patients, you better review their chart because she will quickly know more about that patient than you do!”
Dr. Carpenter notes that much of her colleague’s work in intensive care “is trying to help patients and their families through very severe illness, death and making incredibly difficult decisions about goals of care.” And that’s where Wendy’s kind heart comes in. “She is the type of person who is never too busy to answer one more question that a family has; never too busy to do one more task, order one more test, etc., for any of her patients.”
“When she speaks to patients and families, she treats them with respect,” continues Dr. Carpenter. "There really is no one better than Wendy to help people through these times.” Those times can be any time – day or night. “As part of her job, Wendy does call at night, which often entails being in the hospital all night and working the next day. She does not let the long hours affect her judgment or demeanor.”
Just prior to the pandemic – almost as if she knew the demands on her time were about to multiply one-hundred-fold – Wendy stepped down from her former position as the University of Alberta Critical Care Residency Program Director.
“This training program can be very tough, with very long hours for the residents,” explains Dr. Carpenter. “Wendy always made sure they had a supportive environment … someone to give them support but still push them to be the best physician they could be. She worked so hard to make sure that the residency program was outstanding, for both medical training and in terms of atmosphere.”
Dr. Carpenter is not alone in her admiration of and respect for Dr. Sligl. “I can’t think of a single person who does not admire her intelligence, work ethic and compassion. For all these reasons, Wendy truly commands respect” and is clearly so deserving of recognition by the Shine A Light program.