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PHSA is on the leading edge of health care discoveries, care provision and coordination.

We like to be the first to achieve our goals, whether that’s here in BC or worldwide.

BC Centre for Disease Control

  • 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.
  • The BC Centre for Disease Control is the first in the world to use genomics to map the spread of a Tuberculosis (TB) outbreak, helping to found the new field of epidemiology. 
  • BC Cancer and the BC Centre for Disease Control were the first in the world to complete the sequencing of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus genome
  • Scientists at the BC Centre for Disease Control were the first in the world to develop a molecular vaccine for Chlamydia.

BC Cancer

  • BC Cancer scientists were the first in world to decode the genetic evolution of a breast cancer tumour. Scientists decoded all of the three billion letters in the DNA sequence of a metastatic lobular breast cancer tumour, a type of breast cancer which accounts for about 10 per cent of all breast cancers, and have found all of the mutations that caused the cancer to spread. 

  • Researchers from the BC Cancer Ovarian Cancer Research Program and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute were first to discover that a single genetic mutation is behind one of the deadliest forms of ovarian cancer. Centred around the rare and often untreatable "granulosa cell tumour", this discovery could help unravel the causes of many other cancers and lead to a whole host of new treatments. 

  • Researchers from the BC Cancer, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute and the University of British Columbia completed the first comprehensive study examining educational late effects of survivors of all forms of childhood cancers. The study showed that some childhood cancer survivors, in particular those diagnosed with brain tumours, experience learning difficulties in school.

BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre

  • BC Women’s Hospital’s Psychiatric Genetic Counselling Clinic is the first to offer genetic counselling services to patients living with psychiatric illness and their families, providing services to more than 400 families to date (2015) and training other clinicians from around the globe.

  • Researchers at BC Children’s Hospital, BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre and the University of British Columbia announced findings in a first-of-its-kind study that support the World Health Organization’s recommendation for two-dose HPV vaccine schedules in children. The study was led by Dr. Gina Ogilvie.

BC Centre for Disease Control

  • The BC Centre for Disease Control was the first in North America to develop tools for the rapid assessment of the health effects of extreme temperatures to guide the focus of emergency response teams.

BC Renal Agency

  • The BC Renal Agency’s innovative independent home dialysis program, the first in North America in its scope, is leading to better health outcomes, improved quality of life for patients and fewer patient visits to hospitals.

BC Transplant

  • A partnership between BC Transplant and the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch is the first in North America to reduce barriers to organ donation by
    reimbursing living donors of kidneys and livers for expenses they incur during assessment and post-surgery.
  • A province-wide early detection strategy for kidney disease, the first of its kind in North America, is paying off as British Columbians with chronic kidney disease are being diagnosed 15 per cent earlier in terms of kidney function, when simple treatment options can still be effective.

BC Children's Hospital

  • BC Children's Hospital and Child Health BC launched the first hip surveillance program for children with cerebral palsy. This is the first of its kind in North America, and one of six around the world.

Provincial Health Services Authority Corporate

  • iCHIP (Inherited Coagulopathy and Hemoglobinopathy Information Portal), developed by the Provincial Blood Coordinating Office, is the first web-based, secure application of its kind. It helps track patients with rare, chronic and life-threatening conditions like hemophilia and sickle cell disease electronically. 
  • The PHSA fetal alcohol disorder research network is the first of its kind in North America.

Provincial Health Services Authority 

  • PHSA was the first health organization in Canada with a mandate to promote and deliver an integrated system of province-wide health services accessible to all.

  • A PHSA wind turbine — the first in Canada for any hospital — won the 2008 ‘New Technology of the Year’ Power Smart Excellence Award from BC Hydro and now powers the innovative LED lights in the parking lots of BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre, reducing energy costs and maintenance.

  • PHSA is the first health authority in Canada to implement a living organ donor leave policy that grants up to 30 days’ paid leave to eligible employees who choose to become donors.
  • The Regional Trauma Program – which includes trauma centres in Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, and PHSA – is the first in Canada to ever be awarded ‘Distinction in Trauma Services’ by Accreditation Canada.

  • All University of British Columbia (UBC) medical students will be better equipped to care for Indigenous patients as a result of taking the San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program, which is now part of their required curriculum. The first of its kind in Canada, the San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training was created by PHSA's Indigenous Health program to improve cultural safety for Indigenous people cared for by non-Indigenous health care professionals. 

BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre

  • BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre is the first large specialized hospital in Canada to be designated a World Health Organization and UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital.

  • BC Women's Hospital is home to Canada's first and currently, only milk bank, providing pasteurized milk to infants where formula is not appropriate or if a mother's milk in insufficient or unavailable.

  • BC Women’s Hospital created Canada’s first program to care for substance-using women and their substance-exposed newborns. The Fir Square Combined Care Unit program received an Innovative Services Award of Excellence from British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth in 2008.

  • Dr. Brian Fizsimmons secured a fellowship from the Fellowship in Family Planning, making BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre the first Canadian site to receive the fellowship.  

  • The Centre for Pelvic Pain & Endometriosis at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre launched Canada’s first high school-based endometriosis lessons.

BC Children’s Hospital

  • Vulnerable children and patients at BC Children's Hospital can receive additional protection from a variety of illnesses through the launch of Canada's first in-hospital immunization clinic. The clinic allows thousands of children, youth and their families visiting the facility to be immunized at no cost.

  • Sick and injured children across the province now have increased access to specialized care closer to their home community via the expansion of tele-pediatric intensive care service (tele-PICU) at four additional sites. A first in Canada and an initiative of BC Children's Hospital and Child Health BC, tele-PICU allows intensive care teams and health care providers in communities across the province to collaborate and help children receive diagnosis and treatment sooner and often without leaving their community. 

  • BC Children’s Hospital is using neonatal transport incubator equipment — the first in Canada — to improve safety and comfort for vulnerable newborns by allowing them to receive MRI scans with less sedation, and without being moved from their incubator. 

  • Orthopedic surgeons at BC Children’s Hospital are the first in Canada to perform minimally invasive spinal surgery for scoliosis. With this minimally invasive technique, young patients experience less pain, less blood loss, and can get up and move around earlier, enabling them to go home sooner.

  • The BC Early Hearing Program remains the only program in Canada graded "excellent" in a national progress report on early hearing detection and intervention, distributed by the Canadian Infant Hearing Task Force. 

  • In 2016, the BC Early Hearing Program partnered with Dr. Soren Gantt of BC Children’s Hospital/Child and Family Research Institute and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre to pilot a program that screens high-risk newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. CMV screening in newborns has never been done in BC before. The collaboration between the program, Dr. Gantt and his research team, and BC Women’s is the first of its kind in Canada.

  • 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.

  • As the Compass program at BC Children’s Hospital celebrates its first anniversary in 2019, it’s also celebrating its impact on more than 1,000 children and youth with mental health and substance use issues across B.C. The first of its kind in Canada, the Compass program is a telephone resource for primary care providers who care for children and youth with mental health and substance use concerns under the age of 25. 

  • Cochlear Implants Services at BC Children’s Hospital launched the first virtual care clinic in Canada for patients and families in Prince George in June 2019.

  • Dr. Chris Maxwell and Dr. Philipp Lange are the first in Canada to use a new test for pediatric tumour analysis that may guide personalized treatments for children with cancer. This test better identified weaknesses that can potentially be targeted with drugs.

BC Centre for Disease Control

  • PHSA Laboratories at the BC Centre for Disease Control were the first provincial laboratory to detect Pandemic Influenza H1N1 and develop a test to detect it within 24 hrs and then use that test to track the spread of pandemic influenza in its jurisdiction.
  • PHSA Laboratories at the BC Centre for Disease Control were the first in Canada to use LEAN tools to reconfigure labs for high volume testing during the H1N1 pandemic.
  • BC Centre for Disease Control was the first public health agency in Canada to implement vaccine reefer truck delivery of publicly funded vaccines to all major and secondary health units in the province resulting in savings of over $ 1M in vaccine wastage.
  • PHSA Laboratories at the BC Centre for Disease Control were the first laboratory to be certified as part of the Canadian Laboratory Response Network for the laboratory investigation of agents of bioterrorism.

BC Transplant

  • Through BC Transplant, British Columbia is the first province in Canada to introduce technology that allows residents to register completely online as organ donors with a digital signature. 

BC Emergency Health Services

  • St. Paul’s Hospital and BC Emergency Health Services are conducting a landmark trial that could increase the survival rate of seemingly healthy people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. The trial is called BC Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Trial for Refractory Out of-Hospital Cardiac (ECPR) and is the first of its kind in Canada. It involves a rapid, coordinated response by both paramedics and a cardio team at St. Paul’s Hospital.
  • Bystanders are now empowered to become potential life-savers when a cardiac arrest occurs in a public place. Users of the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) PulsePoint smartphone app, who have verified- they have hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, are notified by BCEHS dispatchers when a cardiac arrest is reported through 9-1-1. The victim’s location is sent to people within a short walking distance (400 metres), allowing trained bystanders to begin CPR on the patient while paramedics are en route. By linking with PulsePoint, BCEHS is the first paramedic organization in Canada to have this public notification service province-wide. 

BC Cancer 

  • BC Cancer launched a new research program — the Complementary Medicine Education and Outcomes Program (CAMEO) — which is the first of its kind in Canada. The program supports cancer patients and health professionals in making informed decisions about how to safely integrate evidence-based complementary medicine with conventional cancer care.

  • BC Cancer published the first long-term results from the largest prostate brachytherapy program in Canada, showing brachytherapy is a very effective treatment for early stage prostate cancer. The population-based study tracks the disease outcomes of the first 1006 consecutive patients treated through the BC Cancer Agency’s Prostate Brachytherapy Therapy Program since its inception in July 1998.

  • BC is the first province to implement Oncopanel genomic screening for cancer patients, but it won't be the last, and the list of treatable mutations will continue to grow and become more robust as each patient's information is added to the database. Agencies across Canada are also working together to discuss the accelerated clinical trials of off-label treatments with pharmaceutical companies.

  • 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 Patient Safety & Learning System

  • Launched in 2008, the BC Patient Safety & Learning System is the first system of its kind in Canada where patient safety event reporting and learning are being addressed on a province-wide scale.

Trans Care BC

  • Transgender people in British Columbia will soon have access to publicly funded gender-affirming lower surgeries within the province, as British Columbia becomes the first province in western Canada to offer these procedures in 2019.

BC Centre for Disease Control

  • The BC Centre for Disease Control’s STI/HIV Outreach Program is the first BC nursing program to receive an International Human Rights and Nursing Award. 
  • PHSA Laboratories at the BC Centre for Disease Control were the first, and still only laboratory in BC that performs bacterial and fungal identification by DNA sequencing methods. 

BC Children’s Hospital

  • For the first time in BC, Francophone speakers are able to get more access to health information from BC Children's Hospital and BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre. A new collection of 500 French language health and wellness resources is now available and can be ordered online. 
  • BC Children’s Hospital has the first portable digital x-ray machine in BC allowing high quality digital x-ray images to be taken of patients in an instant, right at their bedside. 
  • BC Children’s Hospital is the first healthcare organization in BC to launch “Patient’s View” – a BC Patient Safety & Learning System initiative that solicits feedback about safety and quality of care from the perspective of patients and families.

BC Cancer

  • The Indigenous Cancer strategy provides a comprehensive road map for partner organizations to work together to support Indigenous cancer care. The strategy is the result of a multi-year partnership with BC Cancer, the First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation British Columbia and BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres to improve First Nations and Métis cancer outcomes by addressing all steps of the cancer journey, from prevention through to survivorship and end-of-life, and aims to support partnership and knowledge development. 
  • Scientists from the BC Cancer’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program of BC (OvCaRe), are the first to ask all BC gynaecologists to change surgical practice to fully remove the fallopian tube when performing hysterectomy or tubal ligation.  Ovarian cancer deaths could be reduced 50 percent over 20 years by the change in practice. The request stems from new research that  discovered the majority of high grade serous tumours, the most deadly form of ovarian cancer, actually arise in the fallopian tube, not the ovary.
  • BC Cancer implemented the first publicly-funded PET/CT scanner in BC through a $5.1 million investment by the provincial government and established the Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging. The Centre received a further $6.4 million for a cyclotron and radiopharmaceutical lab to manufacture radiopharmaceuticals for both clinical and research use. 
  • BC Cancer is the first in Western Canada to purchase new HALO ablation technology for the treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus complicated by dysplasia, a pre-cancerous or early cancerous condition affecting the lining of the esophagus.
  • BC Cancer is participating in the first health research project involving 40,000 people ever conducted in this province; the largest study ever. The BC Generations Project is part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow, a 30-year pan-Canadian study to collect health information and biological samples from 300,000 Canadians to help researchers learn more about how environmental exposures, lifestyle, and genetic makeup contribute to the development of cancer and other chronic diseases. 
  • PHSA and the BC Cancer built the first integrated hospital and cancer centre using the public private partnership model - on time and on budget ($355 million). The BC Cancer Agency’s Abbotsford Centre is the fifth regional cancer centre to open in the province and represents a critical expansion of the provincial cancer control network. 

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre

  • Women in remote communities now have greater access to information, health resources and information to motivate health-related behaviour change throughout pregnancy with the development of the SmartMom program. A Canadian first, this prenatal education program is delivered by text message and was created by researchers from BC Children's Hospital and Women's Health Research Institute to meet the needs of a more mobile phone-friendly generation.
  • Women injecting illicit substances in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) are now able to do so in a safe environment with the opening of BC’s first women-only overdose prevention site. The initiative is a partnership with BC Women’s Hospital, Atira Women’s Resource Society, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health. It is part of the larger harm reduction and overdose response strategy that B.C.’s health authorities have committed to support.  
  • The first of its kind in BC, the Heartwood Centre for Women is a residential substance treatment program for women with significant substance dependence, mental health concerns, and primary health-care needs, offering a full range of treatment supported by an interdisciplinary team. 

BC Transplant

  • BC Transplant performed the province’s first “Donation after Cardiac Death” (DCD) organ recovery, helping to expand the number of organs available for transplant and offering organ donation to more families in B.C.


SOURCE: Firsts ( )
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