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Leading the Way with Remarkable Research

 Dr. Bram Rochwerg holding a oxygen hemlet
Dr. Bram Rochwerg with an oxygen helmet
June 7, 2021
The importance of research cannot be overstated. At Hamilton Health Sciences, important research initiatives are paving the way for a brighter future by expanding the horizons of medical knowledge. The insights gained today lead to the cures and treatments of tomorrow.

That is why Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation remains committed to supporting vital research through its annual gala celebration. This year’s virtual gala, UNPLUGGED, raised funds to support special projects across Hamilton Health Sciences that will benefit patients of all ages.

Breathing easier

One project supported by proceeds from UNPLUGGED is called “Non-Invasive Ventilation Helmets: Assessing the Efficacy and Safety in Critically Ill Patients with Respiratory Failure.” Through this initiative, intensivist Dr. Bram Rochwerg is investigating the use of a new oxygen helmet as an alternative to facemasks for delivering non-invasive ventilation.

The helmet looks like something worn by an astronaut and it delivers the same pressurized oxygen as facemasks without limiting a patient’s ability to communicate. With this project, Hamilton Health Sciences is one of the first hospitals in Canada to acquire and test these helmets.

In July, watch out for a special video about how these helmets are improving patient care at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.  

Harnessing AI

Dr. JD Schwalm, an interventional cardiologist at Hamilton General Hospital, is conducting a study called “Machine Learning: To Enhance the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease.”

Conventional methods of diagnosis are less than optimal in predicting coronary heart disease, resulting in unnecessary, invasive diagnostic procedures.

Using research strategies that harness the powers of artificial intelligence (AI), Dr. Schwalm and his team are developing a powerful new predictive model. When coupled with an online, evidence-based decision-support program, this model will help ensure that the most appropriate diagnostic tests are conducted for each patient.

Chemo for cancer care

At Juravinski Cancer Centre, hematologist Dr. Hira Mian is leading a pilot study called “Multiple Myeloma: Helping Patients Adhere to their Oral Chemotherapy.”  

Although oral chemotherapy pills are easier for many patients than receiving medication intravenously, a greater risk exists that patients will take their medication incorrectly or miss doses.

Dr. Mian’s study will investigate if patients are taking their pills correctly and whether certain factors like age, social supports and side effects affect a patient’s adherence to their medication regimen.

Education about eating disorders

Dr. Jennifer Couturier, a psychiatrist at McMaster Children’s Hospital, is leading a project called “Eating Disorders: Supporting Children and Youth Awaiting Treatment for an Eating Disorder.”

The pandemic has created even longer wait times for patients needing treatment for eating disorders. Dr. Couturier’s initiative will study the implementation of a wait-list intervention that provides tools to support and educate parents about re-nourishing their children and interrupting eating-disorder behaviours.

The goal of this intervention is to lessen the need for hospitalization and change the trajectory of symptoms while a patient waits for treatment.

Engaging dementia patients

For hospitalized patients living with dementia, loss of meaningful activities can contribute to feelings of frustration and fear.

Through her project “Engaging Patients Living with Dementia in Meaningful Activities, clinical nurse specialist Esther Coker and her colleagues at St. Peter’s Hospital will implement DementiAbility Methods – a program of person-centred, non-pharmacological approaches to dementia care.

This program provides a framework for engaging patients in meaningful activities according to their needs, interests, skills and abilities. An increased level of engagement helps to promote physical, cognitive and social stimulation for better overall well-being.

Making a difference

Special projects like these have an impact that extends far beyond scientific theories, test tubes and data projections. They result in enhanced patient care, greater efficiency for health care teams and an increased base of vital medical knowledge, from which new standards of care and practice are developed.

With knowledge comes power, and the amazing researchers at Hamilton Health Sciences continue to harness and focus that power to ensure the best possible care for patients and families across the region.

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