First and foremost, I’m a mom. That is my number-one job, my most important role in my life. Two small children: my son is three and my daughter is eight months. As a mom, it’s my job to make sure that my kids are heard. I’m their voice, and nobody can speak for them but me. And that is my job. And I take it very seriously. I want the best for my kids.
I had no idea that the SPOR platform existed, and it actually came about through a family friend, Virginia, who happens to be the lead of the Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit. She reached out to me via email and asked if I wanted to be a part of a study concerning pediatric respiratory problems and letters issued to patients’ parents after every visit. My son does have asthma, but it’s managed. We’ve never had an issue with that. The health care system has been wonderful for us with his asthma. Either way, I decided, “You know what, she’s reaching out. I should be a part of this and check it out and see what it’s about.”
I’m a business student. I’m not a health care professional. I have zero experience in the health care system other than as a consumer. I had no idea how my input would be received. I felt inadequate walking into the room and not sure what to say, what to do. Within five minutes of going around the table and going through the introductions, all of those social barriers that you would expect to encounter… gone. They didn’t exist. I was an equal player at that table. I was equal to the researcher sitting next to me. I was equal to the doctor on the other side of the table leading the study.
It was an incredible feeling that, “Okay, I can play ball, per se, with these doctors. And we are all just humans concerned about the direction that we can take our health care system to, where… what are the potentials? And working together, we can do anything. We can make a fully functioning, effective health care system for everybody.” And that was what I took away from that first meeting.
I realized that my input actually was generating for them. It was sparking interest. And that was kind of a “whoa” moment for me, in seeing, “Okay, wait a minute, they’re interested. Maybe they hadn’t thought of this or this was overlooked,” or who knows where there [were] those discrepancies. But they were listening intensely to what I had to say. And not only were they listening, they implemented my opinions. They modified those research materials to coincide with the input that they received from the patients involved in this study. And that was incredible.
What is health research doing?
Research is changing the way health care services are provided every day. Here are just a few examples of discoveries made right here in Edmonton.
Canada’s first islet transplant is carried out by the Islet Transplant group at the University of Alberta in the quest to find better diabetes treatments.
Dr. Shapiro from the University of Alberta works with the Islet Transplantation Group to develop The Edmonton Protocol, reducing dependence on insulin in type 1 diabetics.
Researchers created a new technique so people with severe Type 1 diabetes could stop taking insulin for a short time, making treatment safer and more convenient for patients.
A trans-cranial Doppler device shows doctors if an intravenous stroke treatment is working. Ultrasound waves determine if arteries are open and how blood is flowing.
The Zeidler Gastrointestinal Health Centre opens – Canada’s first clinical facility dedicated to gastroenterology.
Researchers found a new way to treat E. coli by preventing the bacterium from reaching the kidneys.
A researcher finds a biomarker in prostate cancer patients that tells doctors if the cancer will come back or spread. This way they can treat patients earlier and more aggressively.
Inspired by a complex suture pattern, one Edmonton doctor develops a wound-clamping device to stop hemorrhaging, one of the leading causes of preventable death.
Alberta researchers learned that a hepatitis C viral strain can treat all known strains of the virus.
Researchers at the Cross Cancer Institute find that combining two existing drugs doubles the life expectancy of patients with multiple myeloma.
A non-invasive, electrode-based cardiac system gives real-time access to heart data without the use of a catheter. This reduces patient discomfort and lowers the time spent gathering cardiac readings from hours to just minutes.
A surgical robot joins the staff at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women to help patients with uterine and cervical cancer. Surgeries now result in less pain, less bleeding, and faster recovery.
Alberta-run ESCAPE Trial results in a groundbreaking stroke treatment procedure, reducing the number of deaths by 50%.
Research is helping advance knowledge, improve our world, and shape the future.
What is health research?
Health research finds answers to our health questions and shows us new ways to prevent illness, detect diseases, and test new treatments. Right now there are thousands of active clinical studies happening in Alberta. That’s a lot of opportunities to get involved in your health care, and we can only get results with your help.