NO MACHINE LEFT BEHIND
Keith Laycock sits comfortably in his office filled with artifacts he’s collected from various corners of the world. He has an international reputation – and has even had children named after him – as a result of his goodwill and generosity.
Over the last 13 years, Laycock (who retired last month from his position as Sunnybrook’s director of biomedical engineering) has created a means to reduce, recycle and reuse in an extraordinary way. Medical equipment such as fetal monitors, computers, X-ray machines, ventilators, defibrillators or furniture such as beds, operating tables, dressers and even wheelchairs are all refurbished and rebuilt, then shipped to hospitals in need around the world.
“Every day I get an e-mail – it could be at 2 a.m. from a contact in a faraway country, telling me how our equipment has impacted a family or helped someone walk again,” says Laycock. “I believe that it’s important to give back. It’s a relatively small donation for a really big outcome.”
Along with ensuring that all of the electronic medical equipment is working and operating effectively in the hospital, Laycock and his staff volunteer their spare time to test, restore, rebuild and adapt items for use in faraway developing countries.
A few years ago, bedside monitors, suction pumps and other equipment were sent to help rebuild the Guyana Burn Care Unit, the only burn unit in the Caribbean. A team of Sunnybrook nurses from the burn unit flew down to train the local nurses, and local doctors were invited back to observe and train at Sunnybrook. Final result: a 40 per cent increase in burn-injury survival rates in Guyana.
To date, approximately 36 developing countries have benefited, and the list continues to grow. The one condition, according to Laycock, is that the items must work self-sufficiently for at least two years. “Even though the items are used, they are completely safe. If we wouldn’t use it, we won’t ship it,” says Laycock.
Originally trained as an emergency medical technician (ambulance), Laycock saw his share of upset and trauma working long and varied shifts in Banff National Park. Newly married, he decided to go back to school and pursue electrical engineering. When he completed further training in Boston to become a biomedical instructor, he knew that he’d found his real calling.
“Looking back, it was during my first job, when I worked for a large computer tech company, that I saw skids of equipment being destroyed and simply wasted. That was the beginning of my concern and frustration. I realized then that so much more could be done with old equipment. I can’t stand to see anything wasted.”
Laycock is not one to take all the credit. Teamwork is huge for him. Originally it was just Laycock’s department involved and then word soon spread to staff throughout the hospital. It wasn’t long before other medical staff such as doctors and nurses (some of whom have relatives or loved ones in far-off places needing help) became involved.
“Every year it’s the anticipation of where we’re going to go and how we can help that is exciting,” he says. “It just doesn’t end; it’s my social life.”– Sally Fur
LOVING THROUGH JOY AND HEARTBREAK
As a nursing student, Wendy Moulsdale’s clinical rotation in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) turned out to be a life-altering experience. “As soon as I got there, I thought, ‘This is for me.’ I knew I wanted to spend my career in the NICU,” says Moulsdale.
Twenty-seven years later, she now works as a nurse practitioner in Sunnybrook’s NICU. She is passionate about helping families through their NICU journey, which can best be described as an emotional roller coaster.