Gratitude at Rhode Island Hospital

Gratitude at Rhode Island Hospital

Gratitude is...part of the healing process.
... life changing.
... always appreciated.

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Amy Bergeron with her family

The surgery process was scary for me,” Amy Bergeron admits, “but the doctors, nurses, and all of staff really alleviated my fears and made the day one where I felt blessed and lucky.

Amy Bergeron was battling complications of thyroid eye disease. The rare condition is marked by the immune system mistakenly attacking the muscle and fat tissue behind the eyes—causing progressive inflammation and damage to eye muscles, eyelids, and tear glands, and leading to the formation of scar tissue.

Her Rhode Island Hospital doctors recommended surgery as the best course of action to remedy the vision issues Amy was experiencing. She agreed and underwent a procedure to remove her thyroid gland. The surgery was successful.

As fate would have it, Amy’s surgery was scheduled the same day as Rhode Island Hospital’s annual Day of Giving telethon: April 7, 2022. Amy says all her experiences with Rhode Island Hospital and its staff have been positive and that the care she’s received has been delivered expertly and with great compassion. So, when a communication about supporting the event found its way to the Bergeron’s inbox, they knew what to do.

“The morning of the surgery, my husband and I received an email about the Day of Giving and felt like it was a sign,” says Amy, who received the email because she has supported other hospital efforts in the past. “We were very right! The surgery process was scary for me, but the doctors, nurses, and all of staff really alleviated my fears and made the day one where I felt blessed and lucky. Without a doubt, the kindness, caring, and attention that I received from everyone confirmed that my husband and I were so right to donate during the Day of Giving.”


(L-R) Mike Foncellino, Jr.; Nurse Karen Niez; Mike Foncellino; Ann Foncellino; Dr. Olszewski; and Jonathan Cornwell.

Everyone at the hospital – doctors, nurses, support staff – showed an incredible commitment to my welfare and I am eternally grateful.

Mike Foncellino says he was always a healthy guy. So, you can imagine his shock when his doctor’s office called him—while he was out on a bike ride, no less—to tell him he had to get to an emergency room immediately. “The blood test I took the day before indicated that one of my kidneys was failing,” he says, “I was stunned.”

It was July 2020, and Mike remembers he “wasn’t feeling great” and hadn’t urinated in a day or so. But he thought that he might be coming down with the flu, something his wife Ann recently had. It was his children, Michael Jr. and Michele, who noticed his ankles were swollen and suggested he see his doctor in the first place.

Shortly after the call from his physician, Mike was at Rhode Island Hospital, where stents were inserted to help drain urine from his kidney. Once stabilized and admitted, he underwent an ultrasound imaging test, which detected a tumor. A biopsy confirmed it was stage 4 lymphoma. “I didn’t know how severe it was at the time,” Mike recalls, “Fortunately, I met Dr. O and his team.”

“Dr. O” is Adam Olszewski, MD, hematologist–oncologist and researcher with the Lifespan Cancer Institute. Mike initially met with Dr. O in collaboration with Oncology Fellow Kathryn DeCarli, MD, who explained his condition and outlined an aggressive course of treatment to combat the cancer.

“They said I needed six months of chemotherapy in cycles that ran 24/7 for five days followed by three weeks off,” Mike explains. “They hit the nail on the head. It worked and I’m cancer-free!”

Mike also credits his son-in-law, Jonathan Cornwell, a nurse anesthetist at Rhode Island Hospital, with being with him every step of the journey. “He was my wingman and my son, Mike Jr., was always there for me on weekends at the Infusion Center."

A Brooklyn native, Mike still engages in the old-school New York habit of tipping people for a job well done—and even tried the practice with hospital staff. “I was told ‘That’s just not done here’,” he jokes. “But we found another way to show our appreciation. Me and Ann decided to make monthly donations to the LCI Malloy Strong Fund...That’s our tip.”


Everything about Rhode Island Hospital and the care I received there has been amazing!

It was August of 2019, and for weeks, Ryan Durgin had been losing weight, experiencing odd aches and pains, and having difficulty keeping food down. “I just felt lousy,” he recalls. So, he went to see his primary care doctor. Just a few hours after that visit, he received a call from the office with results of his bloodwork, which raised concerns: he needed to go to the emergency room immediately.

“I packed an overnight bag and went to Rhode Island Hospital,” he remembers. Once there, Ryan underwent a battery of tests, which revealed he had swollen lymph nodes in his chest, abdomen, groin, and elsewhere.

After additional screenings and biopsies over a few days at Rhode Island Hospital, Ryan was diagnosed with Double-Hit Large Cell Lymphoma—a rare type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The news hit Ryan hard, but he was confident in his care team and the course of treatment they prescribed, which included seven cycles of chemotherapy from August through December of 2019.

When his chemo was completed, Ryan returned to Rhode Island Hospital in January of 2020 for his first post-treatment scan. Unfortunately, it revealed another “spot” of the same cancer on his cheek. At this point, with Ryan feeling fearful and uncertain, his doctor, Hematologist-Oncologist John Reagan, MD, suggested an experimental, but promising, drug therapy as the best way to fight his aggressive, life-threatening cancer.

Ryan agreed to participate in the clinical trial and began receiving infused treatments of the drug every other week for six months. “The treatments were dramatically different than chemo,” he says, “because the side effects were nil. The only restriction on me was that I was not allowed to drive during the trial as a precaution.” In fact, Ryan reports, he missed almost no work at all throughout his treatment and basically maintained a normal life, as before the diagnosis.

Most importantly, the drug therapy worked. Ryan has been in remission for two years, and says he’s experienced “zero” negative results. His follow-up care now consists of visits with Dr. Reagan every three months and scans every six months.

“I have been thrilled with my outcome,” he reports. “Everything about Rhode Island Hospital and the care I received there has been amazing!”

Michael Friend

I am so grateful to have been able to have this major surgery take place. Needing an elective procedure does not mean it can’t make a tremendous difference in someone’s quality of life.

Suffering from a rare arthritic condition in his left knee and a rotational deformity that led to unexpected, excruciating dislocations of the kneecap, Michael Friend had lost confidence in his ability to walk. For the active 53-year-old who enjoyed biking, kayaking, skiing and lifting weights, his quality of life was at a crossroad. “It hurt just to move around,” he recalls.

After dislocating his patella 3 times in a short period in 2021, Michael knew something had to be done. He connected with Rhode Island Hospital and University Orthopedics surgeon Derek Jenkins, MD, who specializes in complex reconstructive joint replacements. Because of Michael’s relative young age and desire to return to remain active, Dr. Jenkins needed to think outside-the-box for the implant to use.

“This really was a custom surgical procedure,” says Dr. Jenkins. The solution for Michael would come in the form of a device – never-before-used at Rhode Island Hospital – made from a special porous metal and utilizing ‘un-cemented’ fixation technology. This technology not only allowed for greater rotation mobility, but would also last longer.

Michael underwent surgery last fall, just prior to the Omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge that paused elective procedures. Within two weeks, Michael was walking comfortably for the first time in years and back to work. And in the months since, he’s ramped up his activities, lifting weights and going to the gym with his sons. This summer, he’s eager to bike and kayak without the nervous concerns he used to have.

We are just so grateful. Not only did they save my life, but they also saved my family! I can’t thank them enough.

— Tom Bovis, patient

For Tom Bovis and his wife, Lauren Lynch, expressing their gratitude for the lifesaving care Tom received in 2019 is helping them do all those things. Tom suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism following surgery for a broken femur. Thanks to the advanced life support and the care of his medical team, Tom not only survived, but he has made a complete recovery. Sharing his story for the Day of Giving and giving back to support the hospital and people that saved his life are just a few things Tom and Lauren are doing to show their gratitude. “People need to know about the incredible care and staff behind the walls at Rhode Island Hospital—they’re amazing,” says Lauren.

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