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Hospital love story: nurse and tech support analyst see patient care from the other side

Hospital love story: nurse and tech support analyst see patient care from the other side

Newlyweds Adam and Caitlin Schlegel both work at The Ottawa Hospital, where they experienced patient care from the patient’s and family’s points of view as Adam recovered from a brain injury over several years.

In the love story of hospital employees Adam and Caitlin Schlegel, the list of coincidences is remarkable, as Adam had surgery, months of rehabilitation and experienced compassionate care from countless health-care professionals at The Ottawa Hospital.

Caitlin is now a Registered Nurse working in the Main Operating Room – where Adam had emergency surgery after a near-fatal brain bleed in 2010. Although she was a nursing student at the time, she now often works in that very operating room, with Dr. John Sinclair who was Adam’s neurosurgeon.

“I love working in the exact place where Adam’s life was saved, knowing that my colleagues played a huge role in that,” she said.

When Adam collapsed in a west-end Ottawa gym, physician Dr. Kumanan Wilson from The Ottawa Hospital just happened to be there. He identified it as a neurological emergency, with every minute counting, so the paramedics rushed Adam to the Civic Campus, where he had surgery and remained in the Intensive Care Unit for six weeks. Dr. Sinclair warned his family that a full recovery from the ruptured arteriovenous malformation was possible, but would take several years.

“It was a very emotional time for his family and difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Caitlin.

But, as Adam slowly began to recover, he experienced excellent care in the Neuroscience Acute Care Unit, then on D7 (Neurosurgery). His health-care team included doctors, nurses, orderlies, physiotherapists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, dietitians and social workers.

“Although I have no memory of my first few months in the hospital, my family has told me about many of the wonderful professionals who provided care to me,” said Adam.


Caitlin was by Adam’s side throughout his recovery, and they were married on Oct. 10, 2015.

Next, he moved to The Ottawa Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre, under the care of Dr. Shawn Marshall, and started extensive physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. His cognitive function and independence improved greatly and he accomplished the major milestone of learning how to walk again.

“I remember seeing Adam standing up from his wheelchair, and then watched him walk across the full length of the rehab gym by himself,” recalled Caitlin. “I was smiling from ear to ear and tears came to my eyes.”

Finally, he spent two months at the Robin Easey Centre, a residential program for people with acquired brain injuries. There, he practised skills of daily living and learned to use tools to help his memory, such as special apps on his iPhone. He was discharged home seven months after his injury; however, his recovery continues. He’s had multiple surgeries and is followed at The Eye Institute.

Once Adam was ready to resume work, he needed a more suitable career than he had had before. In March 2014 he began working at The Ottawa Hospital as a technical support analyst.

“I really enjoy working at the hospital and feeling like I’m giving back to an organization that helped me so much,” said Adam. “I work with a great group of people and my supervisors have been very flexible about my ongoing medical care.”

“It has amazed all of us how Adam went from being a patient at the hospital for many months, to now being a valued employee,” said Caitlin. She was, of course, by Adam’s side throughout. He proposed to her and they were married on Oct. 10, 2015.

“Things could have turned out very differently for me if we didn’t have The Ottawa Hospital in our community,” said Adam. “I am so thankful to still be here today.”


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