MGH hits a high note for patient and celebrated artist

 East Toronto resident and MGH patient Joan Besen.

East Toronto resident and MGH patient Joan Besen. (Photo: MGH)

Joan Besen’s life has taken her around the world as a touring songwriter and musician with acts including Prairie Oyster and Sylvia Tyson. But the most important place to her is her East Toronto neighbourhood, where she raised her son and is a member of the area’s thriving arts community.

Over the years, Joan has relied on Michael Garron Hospital for relatively minor issues. But when an injury threatened her ability to play the music she loves, it was the hospital that got her back on her feet again.

While raking leaves in her backyard, Joan slipped and broke her foot. Unable to walk, she crawled into her house and called for help. She knew immediately that she wanted to go to Michael Garron Hospital.

“It was a really serious injury – but from the time I got to the hospital I knew I was in good hands. I didn’t feel like a number in a line. I felt like a top-notch professional was taking care of me and knew what they were doing and showing genuine concern for me. You get such a feeling of competence [from the doctors], yet they’re always so humble.”

It was a long recovery, but Joan’s medical team made sure she had the information and care she needed to get better.

“Before the injury, when the hospital treated my fractured hand a few years ago, my doctor knew I was a musician and made sure I knew what to do and what not to do so I could heal as quickly as possible. And when I hurt my foot, it was the same. I could call and ask whatever I needed to, and they’d always be helpful, friendly, and give me clear information.”

Today, Joan is back to playing gigs and walking her Little India neighbourhood, where she loves dropping into places like the Flying Pony café and art gallery to meet friends and Udupi Palace for their renowned dosas.

And when Joan was deciding how best to support her community, she spent a lot of time researching different options before landing on the hospital as her charity of choice.

“Michael Garron Hospital is a place that’s good for you, that cares about you, that you need, and public funding doesn’t support everything the hospital needs,” says Joan. “And it’s a well-run charity. When you give to Michael Garron Hospital, you don’t have to worry about how your money is being spent.”

That’s why Joan chooses to give unrestricted gifts supporting the Hospital’s areas of greatest need. “I am so confident in the quality of the medical staff, and the competence and ethics of the administration, that I trust my donation will have the greatest possible impact,” she says.

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