A visit to the QEII Health Sciences Centre was not on Bishop Philip Poole’s itinerary during a recent stop in Halifax. But following his experience with the QEII's cardiac care team, Philip was compelled to give back to help others.
“There was never a question I would send a gift to say thank you,” says Philip.
“I know something about raising money in my career and I know something about giving money in my career,” he adds, referring to the significant donation he made to the QEII Foundation for cardiac care at the QEII.
Philip retired as Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Toronto in September 2016, holding the position since February 2005. He was the first Canadian to be the international president of the Compass Rose Society.
“The Compass Rose Society provides support for the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the churches. But it also helps support projects like microbanks in South Africa, HIV and eye clinics in Ghana and helps out in the slums of Rio,” says Philip, who after 10 years stepped down as international president, but continues as Canadian president.
Philip’s involvement with this society brought him to the Maritimes in fall 2016.
He had flown into Halifax to begin a six-day, six city tour. He admits to having had some chest pains the day before while in St. John’s, but put it down to muscle pain after a bouncy flight.
“It settled so I didn’t think much more of it,” says Philip.
While walking through the airport he experienced more chest discomfort. After being dropped off at his hotel, the pain worsened.
“I was about to lay down then thought to myself: This is crazy — don’t lie down, go to the hospital,” he says.
Within minutes Philip found himself at the QEII.
“Within a few minutes I was having an electrocardiogram and a doctor said: ‘we think you’re having a heart attack.’ Suddenly, there was probably about 10 people hovering around me explaining what they were going to do. I remember it was explained really well.”
The next step for Philip was contacting his wife, Karen.
“I think she initially thought I was just kidding her because I’m always teasing her on the phone,” he jokes.
“Within five hours she was at my bedside,” says Philip.
Philip still has some blockage, but he started his cardiology rehabilitation program in December and is continuing to recover.
Philip was familiar with Halifax by way of Compass Rose responsibilities, and having a son who graduated from Dalhousie University.
He talks passionately about the “wonderful down home charm” the Maritimes encompasses and explains he experienced this in a big way during his stay at the QEII.
Philip felt compelled to write the QEII Foundation, explaining that all staff, including a maintenance man doing work in his hospital room, took the time to spend a minute or two talking to him, making all encounters human— not just medical.
He also wants to emphasize that although we do have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, it is still not free.
Moreover, he says his wife had the luxury of coming to his side because she was retired and they could afford it.
But he is aware that if this had happened outside of Canada, the cost to his family would have been significant.
“If we want to change this reality I invite and encourage people to donate to their local hospitals,” he says.
“My experience reminds me of the fragility of this gift of life we have been given. I am filled with gratitude for the gift of life, prayers of the church, my supportive family and especially for the great care I received at the QEII.”