Many people celebrate Valentine’s Day by exchanging gifts of candy, cards or flowers with loved ones. For Charles and Margaret Juravinski, they are once again showing their immense love for Hamilton by announcing a Valentine’s Day gift of $5.1 million to support innovative health research.
“We’ve had more than 65 Valentine’s Days together, and we’ve received more than our share of chocolates and flowers over the years,” said Margaret and Charles. “Recently, we’ve loved learning about how the gifts we are making are quite literally changing the lives of people in our city and across the country. Valentine’s Day is a beautiful opportunity for us to show our love for Hamilton and its robust community of talented, innovative health researchers and practitioners.”
The new $5.1-million gift will support groundbreaking health research at the Juravinski Research Institute (JRI), a partnership between Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. This new investment will support research centred around the themes of child and youth health, integrated care and burn trauma.
“The three strategic research priorities have the potential to advance care and clinical practice for burn trauma, improve health outcomes for children and youth, and make the health care system easier to navigate for patients,” said Julian Dobranowski, chair of the JRI’s scientific and steering committees. “These areas are highly collaborative, forward thinking and build upon the strengths of the research and clinical expertise in Hamilton.”
The JRI was established through the Juravinskis’ historic $100-million estate gift in May 2019, which is one of Canada’s largest ever legacy gifts. Since then, the Juravinskis have invested in research focused on COVID-19, brain health and health system transformation with two gifts totaling $6.3 million. To date, 16 innovative research projects have received funding.
“We know the health system can be challenging to navigate and has been under incredible pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dobranowski. “We know that burn trauma has significant impacts on a survivor’s mental and physical health. And we know that our children and youth have struggled, especially during the last two years. That’s why these three areas were selected as strategic priorities for this new gift.”
“We’re tremendously grateful to Charles and Margaret for making this Valentine’s Day more special with their extraordinary generosity.”
Read more about the 2022 strategic research priorities below:
Child and youth health
Childhood and adolescence are important stages in human development as they set the foundation for a prosperous adulthood. Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting the health and well-being of children and youth at an unprecedented rate, causing increased fear, worry and sadness for many. Wait lists for services are growing, and younger patients with complex illnesses are requiring hospital care more than ever before.
Health services during the pandemic have been harder to access, which is leading to a worsening quality of life for those with manageable health conditions. Prior to the pandemic, approximately one in five children and youth suffered from mental health challenges and suicide was the second leading cause of death in people aged 10 to 24. Lockdowns have exacerbated these trends, as kids were disconnected from friends and schools, and in some cases, restricted to environments where they were susceptible to physical and mental abuse.
The Juravinskis’ support will develop research programs to assess the pain points in pediatric health services, understand the burden of mental health challenges and define strategies to improve overall health outcomes for these young people.
“It is imperative that we investigate the experiences of these young people who represent the future of our society,” said Jonathan Bramson, JRI scientific committee member and vice dean of research for McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. “By understanding the life trajectories of children and youth during the pandemic, we can plan accordingly to introduce supports to help them thrive in a post-pandemic world.”
Traditional health care systems are designed to support patients who require care on an episodic or one-time basis. These systems are unable to meet the growing demands of today’s aging patient population, who often suffer from complex illnesses that require ongoing specialized care. Many patients are receiving duplicative and fragmented care with little coordination between multiple care providers and settings. This approach is difficult to navigate and is limiting the overall health of patients and their families.
Integrated care is a field of research and practice that supports, tests and delivers approaches to overcome this fragmentation in health care. This may include developing ways for consistent coordination among health care providers and systems, tailoring services to meet the unique needs and preferences of patients, ensuring patients and families are involved in the decision-making process, and incorporating electronic medical records and virtual care.
An integrated care system has numerous benefits, such as improved health outcomes and patient experiences, enhanced collaboration among providers, better access to care, optimized resource allocation, more opportunities for transformative research, and seamless transitions for patients navigating multiple health and social services.
“Charles and Margaret will enable us to accelerate our ongoing efforts to integrate care across Hamilton’s health care systems, with the ultimate goal of providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time for patients,” said Lehana Thabane, JRI scientific committee member and vice president of research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “Integrated care is a worldwide trend in health reforms and research. This is an opportunity for Hamilton to have global impact and to provide leadership across Canada on transformative research and practice.”
Burn injuries can often lead to long-term physical and psychological health challenges that drastically reduce a patient’s quality of life. Pain, scarring, impaired muscle function and post-traumatic stress disorder are just some of the devastating symptoms faced by burn survivors.
Patients with significant burn injuries also tend to have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to chronic conditions like cancer, gastrointestinal disease and diabetes. More extensive research is needed to uncover the solutions that will enhance the overall health and well-being of burn survivors.
The Juravinskis’ latest gift will help establish a world-class burn research program to attract the best and brightest researchers to Hamilton. The program will be housed at Hamilton Health Sciences’ burn trauma unit, one of only two specialized burn programs in Ontario. Potential research projects include reducing the occurrence of hypermetabolism in burn survivors, decreasing mortality rates for older patients and developing engineered skin grafts derived from stem cells.
“Projects will range from basic research to translational research that will directly benefit patients at bedside,” said Michael Stacey, JRI scientific committee member, and executive vice president, academic and chief medical executive at Hamilton Health Sciences. “Charles and Margaret’s gift will help rejuvenate our burn trauma program and help enrich care for patients across the province who are admitted to our hospital.”
Thanks to the generosity of Charles and Margaret Juravinski, the JRI is improving the health of Canadians by advancing groundbreaking research. Charles and Margaret hope the community will find it in their hearts to follow in the footsteps of the Juravinski Legacy and support the Juravinski Research Institute. Learn more about making a gift to the JRI.
Calling all highly collaborative Hamilton researchers: You can get involved in this year’s JRI projects. Stay tuned for details about upcoming information sessions. Stay up to date on the JRI by following the institute on Twitter at @JuravinskiRI or by visiting the website.