Caitlyn Drury knows firsthand how important the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the Heart Month campaign are to the community.
“I had several open-heart surgeries, so I wanted to come in and give back in a less invasive way than a surgeon,” said Drury, a cardiovascular technology student at Algonquin College, as the UOHI launched the Light the Capital Red campaign on Jan. 31.
“I wanted to help other children that had the same problem as I.”
The Jack Doyle Athletics and Recreation Centre pedestrian bridge will illuminate red throughout February as part of the campaign.
Mayor Mark Sutcliffe attended the event on campus, gave a proclamation on the importance of the campaign and cut a ceremonial ribbon under the new red lighting of the pedestrian bridge.
“Seeing all these young people who are choosing a career in healthcare is really amazing,” said Sutcliffe. “For Algonquin to be so supportive and to do this symbolic gesture to support Heart Month is really amazing.”
The event opened with an introduction from Claude Brulé, Algonquin College’s president and CEO, while students from the diagnostic cardiac sonography and cardiovascular technology programs stood around the podium.
Lianne Laing, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation’s president, praised the students for their dedication to cardiovascular patients.
“To see [students] and [their] scrubs and just excited to be here, it makes us really proud, and this was a wonderful example of what Heart Month is all about,” Laing said.
Several students entered the program with personal connections to cardiovascular health and were thrilled to participate in the symbolic lighting of the bridge and be involved with the campaign.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity to just bring awareness to heart programs at Algonquin College because there are only a couple,” said Felicity Andrews, another cardiovascular technology student.
The group made its way to the ARC bridge to watch as Sutcliffe, Laing and Brulé cut the ribbon, officially launching the campaign in Ottawa.
Algonquin College and the UOHI have an important relationship that offers students practical applications in their programs and a place to amplify the skills they are learning.
According to School of Health Studies program coordinator Karen Tran, students in the two cardiovascular programs benefit from the partnership since they often do their clinical placements with the UOHI and even go on to work for the institution after graduation.
“As a professor, to see them with the confidence in the lab, after they’ve done a clinical, the growth is incredible,” Tran said.
Heart Health Month highlights the importance of keeping track of your own heart health and maintaining healthy habits.
While the UOHI hopes to raise over $1.2 million, awareness is the main goal of the campaign.