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2018 Highlights

Here is a sample of PHSA's latest achievements in health care for British Columbians:
  •—a first-of- its-kind, interactive, confidential, online resource providing up-to-date, empirical facts about the effects and risks of mixing medications with substances use, was recognized as a Leading Practice by the Health Standards Organization in March 2018. This achievement acknowledges the online resource as a world-class, innovative, people-centred resource that has created positive change for youth and health care professionals. The website was designed, developed and launched in partnership with BC Children’s Hospital, BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and University of Ottawa.

  • BC Emergency Health Services is the first paramedic organization in Canada to offer a uniform Pride Pin. The pin, which fuses the colours of the pride rainbow flag with the internationally recognized Star of Life, is available to any BCEHS employee who requests it to wear on the right side pocket of their uniform. The pin will help patients who identify as LGBTQ2S+ to feel confident that they will be respected, supported and safe while under our paramedic care.

  • BC Transplant's input to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health earlier this year was reflected in the organ donation report presented by the Committee in the House of Commons in September. BC Transplant's successful partnerships with provincial agencies inspired the recommendation that the Government of Canada identify and create opportunities for Canadians to register as organ donors through federal programs and services.

  • BC Cancer’s Breast Screening Program will be the first screening program in Canada to report breast density results directly to all women and their health care providers with their screening mammogram results starting in mid-October.

  • BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre is the first in Canada to open a preemie biobank for non-invasive research that uses cord blood from premature babies pre-term delivery to study diseases and infections. 


  • Women from across PHSA were honoured for their remarkable contributions to the community at the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. Winners include Dr. Gina Ogilvie from BC Women’s in the Research & Sciences category and Dr. Christine Loock from BC Children’s in the Health & Wellness category. Teri Nicholas from the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation was a winner in the Non-profit category. Also recognized were nominees Dr. Connie Eaves from BC Cancer, Dr. Roanne Preston from BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre and Linda Lupini, executive vice president of BC Emergency Health Services.
  • A number of PHSA programs/staff were honoured by the Health Employers Association of BC at the 2018 BC Health Care Awards for their work on innovative health models, collaborative problem-solving and outstanding individual achievements to patients, colleagues and the community. BC Cancer received a Gold Apple award in the category of Collaborative Solutions; the Positioning and Mobility Team at Sunny Hill Health Centre received a Gold Apple Dianna award in the Mah-Jones Award of Excellence in Person-Centred Care category; BC Emergency Health Services received an Award of Merit in the category of Collaborative Solutions; the PHSA Workforce Management Solutions team received an Award of Merit in the category of Top Innovation; Glenn Braithwaite, a district supervisor for BC Emergency Health Services, received a Gold Apple Award in the category of Health Care Hero for PHSA as well as the Provincial Health Care Hero award.  

  • In June 2018, BC’s heart transplantation program/BC Transplant achieved a milestone of 500 lives saved in British Columbia due to heart-transplant surgery.

  • PHSA employees were recognized in four categories in the 2019 Quality Awards, presented by the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council. BC Cancer's adult childhood cancer survivors program was a runner-up in the Living with Illness category; BC Children's Hospital psychiatrist Trudy Adam was a runner-up in the Quality Culture Trailblazer category; BC Emergency Health Services' advance care paramedic Ron Stanley was a runner-up in the Everyday Champion category and BC Children's Hospital's pediatric nephrology clinical pathway development team was a winner in the Getting Better category. 
  • Of the 15 genomics and precision health projects selected for $162 million in funding from the 2017 Large-Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) competition, six projects are based in BC, with five projects being led by staff from BC Children's Hospital Research Institute and BC Cancer. Two studies operating out of Ontario and Quebec are co-led by PHSA researchers from BC Children's Hospital.

  • The BRRIDGE to Transplantation Initiative, a BC-wide program for rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to gain equitable access to kidney transplants, was awarded a $100,000 business case development grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The program is led by executive director of the BC Renal Agency, Dr. Adeera Levin and Dr. Jagbir Gill (UBC). 

  • The BC Centre for Disease Control, in partnership with the Institute of Applied Mathematics at the University of British Columbia, developed a mathematical model that can be used to estimate the effectiveness of different public-health interventions in preventing opioid overdose deaths by quantifying the number of overdose-related deaths in BC that were averted with use of naloxone kits. Using this model, a study published in The Lancet Public Health shows the rapid expansion of British Columbia’s Take Home Naloxone program significantly reduced the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2016.
  • BC Children’s Hospital investigator Dr. Matthias Görges and his colleagues have developed a prototype of a new tablet computer app called VitalPAD that’s designed to improve care for critically ill children in the pediatric ICU (PICU). To help clinicians in the PICU provide the best possible care, VitalPAD integrates readings from different medical devices on one display and gives health care workers tools to help them share information and communicate with each other. Researchers are now continuing to test the prototype in simulated situations. Once they’ve further refined the tool, they will start assessing its use in real clinical settings in the BC Children’s Hospital PICU.  

  • As part of an initiative to reduce its carbon footprint, BC Emergency Health Services introduced the first hybrid ambulance into its service on July 17, 2018. The ambulance, manufactured by Crestline Coach of Saskatoon, has a built-in mechanism that stops excessive idling while on scene. When the ambulance has enough battery power, the gas engine automatically shuts off; however, when power levels run low the engine automatically turns on to recharge the battery.

  • BC Emergency Health Services launched a custom-built BCEHS Handbook iPhone app for paramedics. The innovative app helps highly mobile paramedics easily retrieve up-to-date clinical information and treatment guidelines. This tool encourages best practice in paramedicine across the country. Originally conceived and created as a passion project by paramedic Andrew Mills, the app was further developed by BCEHS clinical and information technology services staff at PHSA. It’s available publicly in the Apple store and a version of the app for Android devices is in development.

  • After piloting the BC Asthma Prediction System (BCAPS) in 2017, BC Centre for Disease Control used it throughout the 2018 wildfire season to predict how wildfire smoke would impact the health of communities in the 16 provincial health service delivery areas. During very smoky conditions there can be a substantial increase in demand for asthma-related healthcare across the province, and BCAPS helps the system to prepare for these effects of wildfire smoke.

  • BC Children's and BC Women's researchers were awarded more than $4.9 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant Spring 2018 competition. BC Children's researchers also received more than $2.5 million in funding from the recent CIHR Foundation and Team Grant competitions. 

  • BC researchers find the HPV test superior to Pap smears in the first study of its kind. Findings from an eight-year study involving 19,000 BC women have suggested that testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is better at detecting cervical pre-cancer than the standard Pap test. The study, published July 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), was led by scientists from BC Cancer, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the University of British Columbia. It is the first clinical trial to directly compare the effectiveness of the two tests.

  • ‎BC Cancer Victoria researchers may open new avenues for the future treatment of lymphoma by working on a world-first approach to Adoptive T Cell Therapy. Led by Dr. Julie Nielsen, the innovative approach is called Oncogene-targeted T cell therapy, where patients are infused with T cells that recognize the very mutations that drive a cancerous tumour’s growth. Found in very low numbers in patients, they can be isolated from blood and expanded to very large numbers (tens of billions) in the lab. This approach is another step forward in providing a precise and powerful way to target cancer cells.

  • Dr. Xiaoyan Jiang, a distinguished scientist at BC Cancer, has recently uncovered protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) as a critical therapeutic target in drug-resistant blood cancers, particularly in blood cancer stem cells from chronic myeloid leukemia patients. PP2A is a ubiquitous enzyme that regulates multiple cell signaling networks important to cell growth, division and death. This new finding has recently been published in the journal Science Translation Medicine.

  • A new study by BC Cancer scientists is setting the stage for a better understanding of how and why patients respond to promising new immunotherapies for ovarian cancer. The study, Interfaces of malignant and immunologic clonal dynamics in ovarian cancer, is published in Cell. It used advanced molecular and computational techniques to analyze how tumour cells in patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer — the most common and lethal subtype of epithelial ovarian cancers —escape attack from immune cells. 

  • A new B.C.-led national clinical trial is considered a major advancement in precision medicine for prostate cancer and the first of its kind in the world. The IND.234 clinical trial, led by BC Cancer’s Dr Kim Chi and conducted in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), uses liquid biopsy technology to screen for genomic markers in prostate cancer patients. 
  • New research will provide valuable information to families and clinicians as they work together to decide whether or not a child should have scoliosis surgery. A recent study led by BC Children’s Hospital investigator and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Firoz Miyanji shows that surgery to correct scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, improves the quality of life of children with severe cerebral palsy (CP) and their caregivers. 
  • Children with hard-to-treat cancers will receive improved care through expanding clinical trials and accelerated development of leading-edge immunotherapy treatments through CureWorks. CureWorks is an international collaborative of leading academic children’s hospitals. In partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital-based CureWorks, BC Children’s Hospital researchers will further the science of a promising type of immunotherapy called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, adding to the body of knowledge around this treatment, and developing expertise within the research institute and the hospital. The first CAR T-cell clinical trials will launch this fall at BC Children’s Hospital and will initially be available to children with certain types of leukemia that are no longer responding to conventional treatment.

  • The BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN) team at Sunny Hill Health Centre received national recognition for their work to reduce wait times for children referred for an autism assessment who were under 36 months. Many families now receive same-day or within-one-week diagnosis, which makes it possible for them to access supportive resources in a timelier manner.
  • BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) will now be able to reach more patients safely with night vision imaging technology aboard three of its air ambulance helicopters. The installation and necessary flight crew training is the result of an agreement reached last year between BCEHS and its primary helicopter service provider, Helijet International. A fourth BCEHS air ambulance helicopter is based in Kamloops, and will be equipped to provide night vision flight operations later this year.
  • Patients, their families and caregivers will be more empowered to make important decisions about their own cancer care and treatment with the opening of the BC Cancer Patient Family Centre in Abbotsford on May 31. Funded by the BC Cancer Foundation, the facility is a focal point for education and information on a wide range of cancer-related topics. Information workshops and group teaching opportunities will be possible, including group chemotherapy information sessions and video-link services to other regional centres for enhanced educational opportunities.

  • Transgender people in British Columbia will soon have access to publicly funded gender-affirming lower surgeries closer to home, as British Columbia becomes the first province in western Canada to offer these procedures in 2019.
  • Senior scientist at BC Children’s Hospital Research Dr. Ruth Grunau has received the 2018 Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain Relief from the American Pain Society in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the understanding and management of infant pain. At one time, many doctors believed that newborns couldn’t feel pain. Over the course of her career, Dr. Grunau has helped change this misconception and shown that pain early in life can have long-term effects on development, stress regulation and cognition in babies born prematurely. Her research has influenced health care policy and practices around the world by showing the importance of recognizing and treating pain in infants who require intensive medical care.

  • Dr. Connie Eaves, Distinguished Scientist in the Terry Fox Laboratory at BC Cancer, has been named winner of the International Society for Stem Cell Research Tobias Award. The Tobias Award Lecture, started in 2016, is supported by the Tobias Foundation, and recognizes original and promising basic hematology research and direct translational or clinical research related to cell therapy in hematological disorders. Dr. Eaves will also be inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for her accomplishments.  

  • Dr. Johann Brink, Vice President of Medical Affairs for BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services , received the very prestigious Bruno Cormier Award, which is presented by Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. The award is given out at the Board's discretion to psychiatrists who have made significant contributions to forensic psychiatry in Canada.

  • Dr. Gina Ogilvie was honoured as Options for Sexual Health (OPT) 2018 Sexual Health Champion for her outstanding contributions in sexual health. She was recognized at OPT’s annual breakfast held during Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness week where various organizations promote awareness of sexual health. Dr. Ogilvie is the Women’s Health Research Institute Assistant Director and Senior Advisor of Research, and she is a Canada Research Chair in Global Control of HPV Related Diseases at UBC.

  • Dr. Jana Davidson, psychiatrist-in-chief at BC Children's Hospital, was inaugurated President of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (CACAP) in September 2018 and will serve two terms in this leadership role. 

  • BC Cancer's Dr. Shoukat Dedhar was elected to the new Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada for exceptional contributions to Canadian intellectual life. Dr. Dedhar's election is in recognition of his remarkable career accomplishments as a world-class researcher in the areas of cancer biology, cell adhesion mechanisms and signal transduction (cell communication).

  • Dr. Lori Brotto of BC Women's Hospital and the Women's Health Research Institute was elected as a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada in recognition of her innovative research on understanding and treating sexual health and genital-pain associated difficulties in women. 

  • Fifteen BC Cancer researchers were named to Clarivate Analytics 2018 Highly Cited Researchers list. This list represents scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

SOURCE: 2018 Highlights ( )
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