“I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s when it all started. Being the one who answered the phone made me aware of just how important the Foundation is for patients, for families, for the community.”
Carole Gray was hired to be a receptionist at the Foundation 34 years ago. She had no idea just how big her adventure was going to be. Now, she’s able to witness all the ways in which the Montreal Heart Institute positively impacts people. She tells us about the importance of lending an ear and the new ways to support the cause.
A door that’s always open
As someone who is easy to approach, Ms. Gray was not only a pillar at the Foundation, she was also a person with whom patients felt at ease.
“A lot of people would stop by to have a chat when they walked by my office! Patients who were anxious, family members who were worried. They expressed how they were feeling, and I listened. I was this reassuring figure who was by their side before and after the events they went through. I tried my best to encourage them, to understand them, and to make sure they were aware of the resources available to them.”
The Montreal Heart Institute: a family that sticks together
Over the years, Ms. Gray has held various positions at the Foundation and has built solid ties with the health care professionals, donors, and all the teams that make it possible for the Institute to function. In other words, she benefited from a global view of the organization.
“Every team works extremely hard to provide the Institute with what it needs. We all share the same vision, the same goal, because we strongly believe in the mission. I know that everyone works tirelessly to make sure the patients are happy.”
The Institute is a large family where every member pulls together, moving as one. According to Ms. Gray, every person has a key role to play, from the surgeons to the cleaning staff.
The Foundation: the hands that feed the cause of cardiovascular health
The Montreal Heart Institute and its Foundation are intrinsically connected. During her time with the Foundation, Ms. Gray has played a key part in its impressive growth. As a result, new projects and areas of focus have helped the Institute become the world-renowned centre it is today. In her 34 years at the Foundation, Ms. Gray has been able to witness just how far it has come.
“Because of the Foundation’s role in fundraising, we can implement myriad major projects internally. When it was founded initially, its single goal was to fund research. Today, it does so much more, and we can respond to a plethora of varied requests.”
Promoting teaching, psychological support, and prevention
Thanks to its extended team, the Foundation is able to donate funds to support cardiovascular health in various, sometimes unsuspected ways.
“We provide an opportunity to our resident physicians to study abroad and come back with new ways of providing care. We also welcome foreign residents so they can share what they’ve learned back home. Furthermore, we make it possible for the Institute to develop new simulation technologies and perform complex interventions, all to ensure the well-being of patients. We can provide services from social workers, psychologists, and spiritual advisors to those who request them. We’ve also established a medical approach that is focused on prevention, by supporting patients and their families in their journey to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.”
The Partenaires de coeur fund: improving the quality of life of patients
Ms. Gray’s biggest source of professional pride? The Partenaires de coeur funds, created to helps patients and families in need. The chats she was privy to in her office over the years motivated her to launch this important project.
“Many people have confided in me about their financial hardships and stress that can be caused by having to deal with cardiovascular disease. I remember there was a woman whose son was waiting for a transplant. She didn’t live in the city and her fuel and food bills were so expensive that she had to sleep in her car. There are so many people who are patiently waiting for an operation and don’t have the means to purchase items – a computer or a music player for instance – that could help them get through the hard times they’re experiencing.”
According to Ms. Gray, the road to recovery is much easier when a patient has a good quality of life. Since 2020, the Partenaires de coeur fund has been helping to alleviate the burdens of patients with financial problems.
Now in retirement, this stewardship advisor hopes the Foundation pursues its mission and that the well-being of the patient remains at the heart of every decision.
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