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2017 Highlights

Here is a sample of PHSA's achievements in health care for British Columbians during 2017:
  • Maintaining high standards of care, BC Children's Hospital, including Sunny Hill Health Centre, and BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, were once again accredited with Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada - the highest level of accreditation offered to a healthcare organization. 

  • A BC Children's Hospital child and youth mental health initiative, "Engaging families and direct care staff in co-design and analysis of family experience surveys", was accepted as a leading practice by Accreditation Canada. A leading practice is defined as an innovative and creative example of leadership and service delivery carried out by a health service organization.‎

  • PHSA is named one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People in 2017, for the sixth year in a row.
  • Four PHSA programs/staff were recognized for providing excellence in patient care by the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council's 2018 Quality Awards. BC Emergency Health Services was a winner in the Getting Better Category; the Palliative Care Committee for BC Renal Agency was runner-up in the Coping with End of Life category; the neonatal intensive care unit team from BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre was runner-up in the Getting Better category and Charlene Burmeister from the BC Centre for Disease Control and First Nations Health Authority was runner-up in the Everyday Hero category. 
  • PHSA is named one of BC’s Top Employers in 2017 for the ninth year in a row.

  • For the second year in a row, the number of deceased organ donors is up thanks to a concentrated effort from health care staff across BC and increasing public awareness and support for organ donation. There were 97 deceased donors in BC in 2016, up two from 2015. Also in 2016, 423 people received a life-saving transplant in British Columbia - the most transplants performed in a year in this province.

  • PHSA is recognized for building the best possible experiences for patients and staff with three awards at the 2017 BC Health Care Awards, presented by the Health Employers Association of BC: BC Emergency Health Services' Critical Incident Stress Program won the Gold Apple award in Workplace Health Innovation; the Mobile Medical Unit won an Award of Merit in Collaborative Solutions and PHSA informational technology employee Hilary Horlock won PHSA's Gold Apple Health Care Hero award.  PHSA For the second year in a row, the number of deceased organ donors is up thanks to a concentrated effort from health care staff across BC, and increasing public awareness and support for organ donation. There were 97 deceased donors in BC in 2016, up two from 2015
  • Researchers from BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, BC Cancer, Vancouver Coastal Health, the University of British Columbia and collaborators at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions examined tissues from women with endometriosis to make a groundbreaking discovery - non-hereditary gene changes (mutations), in endometriosis, which impact the growth of cells. The results of the study will open the door to learn more about how common these gene mutations are, and which types of endometriosis have mutations.

  • BC Children's Hospital launched the Breathr Mindfulness app, available for download in Google Play and the App Store on Android and iOS. Breathr is designed to help youth tackle every day stresses in their lives through practicing mindfulness and can help prevent mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety from developing or escalating. Breathr was developed in collaboration with BC Children’s Hospital medical professionals, mindfulness experts and youth, making it an informed and evidence-based resource. 

  • Dr. Sam Aparicio was announced as a member of one of the first global research teams to be recipients of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge aims to help overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer research in a global effort to beat cancer sooner. Dr. Aparicio’s pioneering team will create a virtual reality 3D tumour map which will allow scientists and doctors to examine – for the first time and in unprecedented detail – the cellular and molecular make-up of a patient’s entire tumour to improve diagnosis and treatment for the disease. 

  • Dr. Danuta Skowronski, influenza & emerging respiratory pathogens team leader at the BC Centre for Disease Control, was one of a handful of expert advisors and the sole Canadian consulted by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the core of its just-released Evaluation of Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness: A guide to the design and interpretation of observational studies


  • Research spearheaded by BC Cancer scientists found dynamic molecular changes between the tumours from hodgkins lymphoma patients at initial diagnosis compared to relapse. Using this information, the team developed a clinically ready test called RHL30 to identify relapsed patients at highest risk of failing subsequent treatment. The results will help further guide treatment options for patients and were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

  • In a national first, BC Cancer Agency, Terry Fox Research Institute and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre launched an innovative pilot project to accelerate precision medicine for cancer patients. The pilot will provide much-needed evidence on how best to roll out a broader vision for data sharing and collaborative translational and clinical research to enable precision medicine for the cancer population. 

  • Dr. Sohrab Shah and his team discovered several ovarian cancer subtypes, which could result in new treatment strategies for some ovarian cancer patients including those that do not respond well to chemotherapy. This discovery was published in Nature Genetics.

  • HEARTSMAP, a new online emergency psychosocial assessment and management tool for children and youth in mental health crisis, will provide clinicians with guiding questions to collect patient information; then use the data to identify areas of need and provide recommendations for management. Developed, tested and validated at BC Children’s Hospital, HEARTSMAP was implemented at nine sites in the Metro Vancouver area and Northern BC in 2016/2017. 

  • At-risk and premature babies who are spending their first moments of life in neonatal intensive care units across the province will now benefit from the launch of an innovative skin-to-skin attachment program that is led and supported by Perinatal Services BC and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre. The Province of BC has announced $500,000 in funding the kangaroo mother care program.

  • Proving the power of touch, scientists from BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the University of British Columbia uncovered that the amount of close and comforting contact between infants and their caregivers can affect children at the molecular level, an effect detectable four years later. The study, published in Development and Psychopathology, is the first to show in humans that the simple act of touching, early in life, has deeply-rooted and potentially lifelong consequences on the epigenome — biochemical changes that affect gene expression. 

  • ‎New guidelines for infant peanut consumption are announced by an international panel – Dr. Edmund Chan, director of the allergy clinic at BC Children’s Hospital, was the only Canadian on this panel. 

  • The Heart Centre at BC Children's Hospital is the first in Canada to use a new advanced diagnostic tool to provide cardiologists with improved intravascular views and to better map changes in blood vessels. The new imaging system helps cardiologists understand how blood vessels are healing over time and to decide on the most appropriate treatments for children with complex cardiovascular abnormalities, such as coronary artery aneurysms.

  • BC Children’s Hospital and Child Health BC launched Canada’s first tele-pediatric intensive care service (tele-PICU), providing children with increased access to specialized care closer to their home community. Intensive care teams can now collaborate with health care providers in communities across the province to help children receive diagnosis and treatment sooner and often without leaving their community. 
  • The most seriously ill children and complex obstetrical patients in BC now receive specialized care in the newly-completed Teck Acute Care Centre. The centre features 231 inpatient rooms over eight floors of clinical space from BC Children’s Hospital, along with BC Women’s Urgent Care Centre, which includes 10 single-patient rooms for women who are pregnant to six weeks post-birth. 

  • Adults with severe mental health and addictions challenges will receive more help to stabilize their illness and move forward with rehabilitation and recovery from the construction of a new Centre for Mental Health and Addiction. The new 105-bed centre will offer specialized residential treatment and replace the current Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction. It is slated to open its doors in Coquitlam in 2019.

  • ‎ICBC and BC Transplant expand the organ donation program across the province. Every British Columbian visiting an ICBC driver licensing location will now be asked to register their decision about organ donation. 

  • PHSA assumes responsibility for the delivery of medical services at BC's 10 provincial correctional centres on October 1, 2017, with the aim to improve continuity of care for inmates as they move between correctional centres and the community.

  • BC Cancer is improving services and patient-centered care for Fraser Valley with expansion of a new chemotherapy unit with more research space and enhanced patient-focused services. The expansion will increase chemotherapy treatment chair capacity by 28 per cent – with an average extra 4,300 patient visits for a total of 15,000 visits per year. Additional ambulatory clinical space will also provide 13,000 more patient visits with clinical care teams each year. 

  • The Province of BC will fund more ambulances and paramedics to improve emergency response with commitment of $91.4 million over the next three years and $4 million in immediate additional funding for necessary equipment.

  • British Columbia youth and young adults struggling with serious substance use problems now have access to Ashnola at The Crossing, the re-opened and re-named 22-bed residential treatment program in Keremeos. The new treatment program provides individuals aged 17 to 24 years with access to specialized, evidence-based treatment, education and support tailored to their unique needs in a natural environment. 

  • BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services and PHSA announced 30 new substance use treatment beds for adults across the province. These beds are in addition to the government’s commitment to open 500 overall new substance use treatment beds in BC.
  • The Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) honoured Dr. Marco Marra of BC Cancer with the Outstanding Achievements in Cancer Research award from for his contributions to the understanding of the role of genetic alterations in promoting cancer progression, and in translating these insights for the benefit of patients. Dr. Marra's research used parallel sequencing technologies and informatics tools to characterize tumours from patients, leading to the discovery of new cancer associated mutations, candidate biomarkers, and therapeutic targets.

  • Dr. Edmond Chan of BC's Children's Hospital received the Jerry Dolovich Award from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology for demonstrating excellence in clinical work, teaching, research, and serving as a leader and role model in allergy and clinical immunology in Canada. 

  • Dr. Maureen O'Donnell, Executive Director, Child Health BC was recognized with the Women Leaders in Digital Health Award by Digital Health Canada. The award celebrates the top ten female visionaries who are harnessing the power of IT to transform health and healthcare in Canada today.

  • George Moffat of BC Emergency Health Services was awarded the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal and bar, issued by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. He is also celebrating 45 years of service with BCEHS.

  • Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, endocrinologist at BC Children's Hospital, received a 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Health and Wellness category.

  • Dr. Ron Abrahams, medical director of perinatal addictions and founder of Fir Square at BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, will be receiving the Meritorious Service Cross this year.


SOURCE: 2017 Highlights ( )
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