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As a long-term care nurse, Solace Attopley was on the front lines of the pandemic when her help was needed most. As a patient, she is grateful that Sinai Health was there for her too

On her last day before maternity leave, Solace Attopley, a long-term care nurse, was working a double shift. Just days earlier, her facility had announced an outbreak of COVID-19. At the time, Solace was 26 weeks pregnant with her second child, Emmanuella, and the pregnancy was considered high-risk owing to her sickle cell anemia, so she was advised by her obstetrician to begin maternity leave early. On that final day, Solace stayed and worked an extra shift to help cover staffing shortages due to the outbreak.

The following day, she came down with symptoms of COVID-19. It started with a cough and fever, but when she began experiencing chest pains, Solace was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital.

A leader in obstetrical care, Mount Sinai’s Frances Bloomberg Centre for Women's and Infants' Health is one of the largest obstetric centres in Canada. Every year, more than 7,000 babies are born at Mount Sinai, and of those pregnancies, approximately two-thirds are considered high-risk.

Prior to her admission for COVID-19, Solace was already a Mount Sinai patient under the care of Dr. Ann Malinowski, an expert in sickle cell disease and its impact on pregnancy. Now, Solace was battling on two fronts: fighting the novel coronavirus while also coping with her sickle cell anemia — all while concerned for the health of her baby.

“I was scared because I was told that if things got worse, they might have to do an emergency Caesarean section to deliver the baby early.”

For three weeks, Solace experienced improvements and setbacks. “Some days I would feel good, there’s no fever, breathing is okay. And I’m thinking, I’m going to go home soon. And then the next day, everything goes back to the way it was.” Twice during her stay, she had to be transferred to the intensive care unit because of respiratory problems. On top of her own health and isolation, she also worried about the toll it was taking on her family, especially her five-year-old son, Samuel.

Solace Attopley
Solace Attopley was 26 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy when she was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital with COVID-19. Today, she and baby Emmanuella, born less than a week after this photo was taken, are healthy and thriving.
“And the doctors took their time to explain what was going on and what they were going to do for me. I would say I had the best care.”

Fortunately, with the diligent care and unique expertise of the Mount Sinai team, Solace was able to make a full recovery. “I’m back on my feet now,” she says, gratefully. “But it was an experience I wouldn’t wish for anybody.”

Solace’s story is a reminder of why, for Sinai Health, supporting patients and front-line workers through the COVID-19 crisis has been vital. It was the reason Sinai Health created the Sinai CEO Fund, which was launched in the early days of the pandemic to enable Sinai Health to respond with flexibility to the challenges of COVID-19. By supporting the fund, donors have rallied to the aid of Sinai Health and its health-care heroes, who braved the most uncertain and frightening days of the pandemic to keep delivering care to patients.

Whether it’s enabling the hospitals to deploy personal protective equipment, providing communications services to connect isolated patients like Solace with their loved ones, or enabling researchers at Sinai Health’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute to investigate new drug therapies — donors to the Sinai CEO Fund have been vital in the fight against COVID-19, and to keeping patients and health-care workers safe.

"We are truly grateful for each and every contribution we’ve received to our Sinai CEO Fund,” says Dr. Gary Newton, CEO of Sinai Health. “These donations show how much our donors care about Sinai Health and the well-being and safety of our whole community."

As both a nurse and a patient, Solace knows first-hand the importance of donor support in helping address the challenges of COVID-19, particularly the support of research that can lead to successful diagnostics and potential therapies.

“It’s so new that everybody’s trying to figure out what works best, especially for patients like me, where it was hard to clear whatever was going on. I think donating to research to better understand this virus is critical.”

As for her experience at Mount Sinai, she feels fortunate to have been under such exceptional care.

“The nurses were amazing. Anytime I called for help, they knew what to do,” says Solace. “And the doctors took their time to explain what was going on and what they were going to do for me. I would say I had the best care.”