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To understand the challenges facing hospitals across the country – and how we might fix them - Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre teamed up with The Globe and Mail last fall for a rare partnership.

Starting in September, journalists were given access to everything from emergency rooms to surgical suites to specialized units – as well as both patients and experts who could speak to how they operate.

One of them was photojournalist Kevin Van Paassen, who made more than 50 trips to the hospital over four months and took more than 1,000 photographs.

He witnessed a knee surgery, recorded the sorrow and triumph of babies and their families in the neonatal ICU and the vitality and fragility of aging patients in the veterans' wing.

"Access was wonderful and the hospital staff was key to this," he says. "But it was the co-operation of the patients that was truly remarkable."

What follows is a selection of Kevin's favourite images, and an unfiltered look at Canadian health care.

Read the final instalment of #TheHospital series: Why the future of health care may depend on tearing down the hospital

Nora and David Wright

Kevin van Paassen visited Sunnybrook’s palliative care unit just before Christmas, where he photographed Nora Wright and her husband David, left.

Nora was diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer in 2008. The couple were celebrating their 10th anniversary in palliative care at Sunnybrook the day Kevin visited.

Ms. Wright died at Sunnybrook, with family and friends at her side, on Jan. 3.

Donald Parr

In palliative care Kevin also photographed Donald Parr, who was featured in a Feb. 15 Focus story, Life’s last milestone: Why a ‘good death’ matters

Kevin visited with Donald and his children, sons Bob Parr, left, and Steve, several times over the course of a four-week period, including here on Christmas Day as he celebrated the holidays with his family for the last time.

Mr. Parr died on Jan 17, two weeks after his 87th birthday.

Dr. Graham Slaughter

One of doctors The Globe spoke with regularly over the course of the series was Graham Slaughter, head of Sunnybrook’s rapid referral clinic. You can listen to him talk about the importance of patient flow in this video. 

Patient Jessie Cooper awaits the Patient Flow Team, which is responsible for the movement of patients in, out and around the hospital. Discover more about patient flow in this video, How do hospitals decide who gets a bed? 

Occupational therapist Jennifer Shaver keeps a close eye on patient Adel Doss, 54, at Providence Healthcare, a Toronto facility specializing in rehabilitation. Read about Mr. Doss in the final piece in The Hospital series: The future of health care may depend on tearing down the hospital.

Dr. Jeffrey Gollish

Another Sunnybrook staff member The Globe spoke with over the course of the series was Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Gollish, seen here peering at x-rays.

Sandra Martin and Kevin Van Paassen joined Dr. Gollish for a knee replacement surgery at Sunnybrook on Nov. 4, 2013.

The patient was Sharron Baker, 67. Ms. Baker’s surgery is symptomatic of a hospital system that is trying to evolve to match Canada’s aging population.

Read about how hospitals are dealing with Canada’s demographic challenges in the Jan. 25 Focus feature.

Dr. Gollish is the Medical Director of the Holland Orthopaedic & Arthritic Centre and the head of the lower extremity arthroplasty program for Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Nurse Jennifer Munday assists Sharron Baker as she takes a walk following knee replacement surgery at the Holland Centre which is part of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario Wednesday, November 6, 2013.

Murray Westgate

One of the more vibrant people The Globe met during the project was Murray Westgate, a former Imperial Oil spokesman on Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts in the 60s and a former Navy war vet. At 95, he’s still spry and talkative. Find out more about him in this piece, Veterans at Sunnybrook show us how to age gracefully.

The Veteran’s Centre is a facility that may prove to be the prototype of future care centres. Louis Gelman, 89, dances along with a musical performance by a live band during Remembrance Day ceremonies last November.

Ted and Dorothy Ramsdale

This is Ted Ramsdale who is 91 and lives at the Dorothy Macham Home, a state-of-the-art facility for veterans with challenging behaviours related to dementia. Ted's wife, Dorothy, 90, visits frequently. We photographed this visit and the other images from the home on Jan. 14, 2014.

Dorothy Ramsdale kisses Ted goodbye after her visit. By 2030, nearly one and a half million Canadians will be suffering from dementia like Mr. Ramsdale, many of whom won't be suitable to live in your average nursing home. Where are they going to go?

Today, slightly more than 15 per cent of Canadians are over the age of 65. Within a decade and a half – by the year 2030 – nearly a quarter of the population (7,845,000 Canadians) will be 65 or older. In this image, a patient we can't identify receives medication from a nurse.

Germ warfare

Dr. Andrew Simor at Sunnybrook’s Microbiology lab at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre December 13-12-18, 2013. Read about how hospitals are on the front lines in a new era of germ warfare.

Jennifer Lewis examines a sample of Staphylococcus aureus inside a petri dish in the microbiology lab at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario Thursday, November 28, 2013.

Leontina Da Costa cleans a patient’s room last December. Housekeepers at Sunnybrook must thoroughly clean rooms before a new patient is allowed in. If one bed rail isn’t properly wiped down, if every millimetre of a toilet seat isn’t disinfected, if a TV remote control isn’t cleaned with industrial-strength chemicals, the result can be a catastrophic outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cripple an entire department and kill the vulnerable patients in its path.

Heather, Hannah and Emma Pearen

Some of the most moving stories at Sunnybrook were in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the NICU. This is Hannah Pearen, whose sister Emma is also in the unit.

Baby Emma holds her mother Heather Pearen's finger inside her incubator. 

Mother Heather Pearen changes baby Emma's diaper inside her incubator.

Mom Jhanary Batac spends time with her son King Millington. Babies incubators are often bathed in ultra violet light to treat jaundice. 

Jodi and Arwynn Stevenson

Jodi Stevenson arrived at Sunnybrook on July 2 and three weeks later gave birth to Arwynn and Briar at 26 weeks gestation. The Globe tells her story in One bittersweet departure from Sunnybrook’s neonatal intensive care.

At first, Jodi worried more about Arwynn, but it soon became obvious that Briar had serious brain damage. Medical staff spent days talking with the couple as they made their terrible decision to let Briar die, supported them while they cradled their baby until she stopped breathing, and made plaster casts of her tiny hands and feet.

Having survived the worst, in mid-December the Stevensons had the joy of taking baby Arwynn, by then a robust 7 pounds, 12 ounces, home. 

Meet Jodi and Arwynn and staff in Sunnybrook’s NICU in this video, Circle of support at Sunnybrook NICU start with a mom.
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