THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – It is collectively one of the largest gifts in the Health Sciences Foundation’s history. The group of six orthopedic surgeons practicing at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre announced they are going to personally donate $2-million over 10 years to something they strongly believe in – a local orthopedic research program.
Dr. Peter Clark, Dr. Claude Cullinan, Dr. Kurt Droll, Dr. Jubin Payandeh, Dr. David Puskas, and Dr. Tracy Wilson have been trying to get a research program off the ground for years but kept facing barriers of financial and human resource constraints.
Together they decided to start the research program themselves. “We’re doing this because we want to establish a sustainable orthopedic research program,” said Dr. Droll. “Investing in research is what leads to innovation and advancements in patient care.”
Sizeable as their donation is, the surgeons are hoping it will be more like seed money for the research program. “I’d like to see our donation as a call to action to others within the community,” said Dr. Puskas. “We are looking for our community and government people to step up and say, if our surgeons are committed enough to the point of giving $30,000 each for 10 years, we should be committed too and jump on board to help our physicians improve Northwestern Ontario’s healthcare problems.”
One of the healthcare problems they are directing their research at is the higher amputation rates in the North West LHIN related to patient complications from diabetes. Data shows amputation rates in our region are almost 3 times higher than the provincial average.
According to Dr. Puskas, the surgeons see a higher rate of amputations in First Nations patients in our region – and at younger ages, sometimes under 40. The cause, he says, is rampant diabetic complications because they are not getting the treatment that they need in their community. “For us to change this, we need to characterize the problem, look at where the problem is and the cause – and determine how to change the way healthcare is delivered to help mitigate this problem.” Dr. Puskas says their goal is to drop the amputation rate in our LHIN by 50%, recognizing that the greatest portion of this will be a huge change in the amputation rate for First Nations.
“This surgeon group’s donation is huge for research, huge for improving and advancing patient care and huge on leadership from the orthopedic surgeons,” said Glenn Craig, President and CEO of the Foundation.”It shows great leadership as the Health Sciences Foundation is building a Culture of Philanthropy at the Health Sciences Centre and in the community.”
80% of health research in Ontario is conducted in academic health sciences centres just like ours. If you want to answer the surgeons’ “call to action” and help invest in research today for better patient treatments tomorrow, donate to the Health Sciences Discovery Fund online at www.healthsciencesfoundation.ca or by calling 345-4673.