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Hugs at the Hockey Rink

October 1, 2019

HSC plastics staff make a difference

Heather Chapko sits rinkside watching her teenaged son play hockey. An older woman—watching her own grandchildren play—approaches Chapko and offers a smile, a hug, and the most authentic “thank you” one can utter.

It’s happened more than once when an ever-grateful breast cancer survivor greets Chapko in public. It’s happened at the rink, at the beach, and at the grocery store.
As a nurse clinician in Plastic Surgery, Chapko has offered support and care to hundreds of women undergoing the groundbreaking mastectomy and breast reconstruction work at HSC. “It’s the best part of my job when I can see someone who was once in our care out and about—feeling well and looking good,” says Chapko, who has worked at HSC for 20 years.

Heather Chapko

Chapko and her colleagues will soon be working in a redeveloped space at HSC, a project made possible by generous donors to the HSC Foundation. Planning is underway to convert and enhance the current clinic space to reduce wait times, remove certain procedures from HSC’s main operating rooms, and improve all aspects of patient care and outcomes. The Plastic Surgery Clinic can see hundreds of patients a week for breast reconstruction, traumatic injuries, burns, and skin cancer treatment. The current clinic is aging, crowded, and inadequate for the caseload.

“In the new space, patients will be more comfortable and have more privacy,” says Laura Ng, also a Plastics Nurse Clinician. “We’re also looking forward to having more functional work spaces which will improve efficiency.”

Chapko and Ng both note with pride that they work for one of Canada’s most respected plastic
surgery programs.

“People come here from around the world for fellowships and to learn,” says Chapko. “The entire plastic surgery team functions like a family and we’re happy to be part of it.”

Thanks to HSC Foundation donors, Chapko, Ng, and their colleagues will soon be in a position to achieve even greater levels of excellence in a modernized, re-organized space.

Laura Ng