BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre is reinventing and innovating healthcare for women. We are at ground zero in eradicating cervical cancer. Our Oak Tree Clinic has set the global standard for treatment of pregnant and breastfeeding HIV/AIDS positive mothers. FIR Square has defined the model in North America for care and treatment of substance-using pregnant mothers. Our Urgent Care Centre – Canada’s only maternity Emergency Room – will see 15,000 patient visits a year. Our NICU houses the only mother-and-baby unit in North America.
At the helm are a team of renowned medical experts who are world leaders in women’s health. Dr. Gina Ogilvie is a global health strategic thinker and researcher working to eradicate cervical cancer worldwide. Cheryl Davies is a proven change maker, systems innovator and chief operating officer of the only women’s hospital in Canada. Genesa M. Greening is an advocator and disrupter committed to transforming the public discourse on women’s rights. Dr. Dorothy Shaw is a lifelong, tireless trailblazer for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide. And Dr. Lori Brotto is a scientist, knowledge translator, and leader of western Canada’s only Research Institute devoted to women’s health discoveries.
You can be a part of medical history by making your donation to BC Women’s.
On Wednesday, November 15, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) announced a $500,000 investment in Kangaroo Mother Care in BC. This special skin-to-skin attachment program has proven long-term benefits to families by reducing anxiety, stress and the risk of depression in both mother and child.
The funds cover the cost of launching the program throughout BC, including development of training and educational materials for nurses and parents. It will also help to provide wraps that support skin-to-skin contact, known as kangaroo mother baby wraps.
This shift in the model of care – to including parents as partners – is what has proven BC Women’s NICU to be a world leader. And Michelle Peltier experienced this first-hand, when her daughter Olive was born premature and stayed at BC Women’s NICU.
Photo credit: the Province of British Columbia.
When Michelle spoke at the announcement, she shared how learning how to safely practice skin-to-skin was what helped her cope and build confidence to care for her tiny newborn.
“Skin-to-skin took my pain away. It changed everything. It taught me watch my baby, rather than the monitors” – Michelle Peltier, former patient mother at BC Women’s NICU.
Michelle’s family is just one example of so many that will benefit from Kangaroo Care with this new investment. BC Women’s is incredibly excited to see this model of care extended across the province– a move that will empower families beyond hospital walls and ensure all babies in BC get the very best start in life.
Pictured here (L-R): Michelle Peltier, patient family; Maryam Kiarash, Perinatal Clinical Educator; Megan Bolton,
Senior Practice Leader; Cheryl Davies, Chief Operating Officer, BC Women’s; Susan Wannamaker, President, BC Children’s and Women’s Health; Genesa Greening, President + CEO, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Care Centre Foundation; Hon. Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development; Gina Chung and son Forrest; Carl Roy, President & CEO, PHSA; Dr. Horacio Osiovich, Head, Neonatology and member of BC Women’s Medical Leadership; Dr. Tamil Kendall, Interim Provincial Executive Director, Perinatal Services BC; Dr. Lori Brotto, Executive Director, Women’s Health Research Institute.
Please make a donation to women, families and newborns across British Columbia.
On October 29, 2017, BC Women’s welcomed its first patients to the newly outfitted Newborn ICU at the Teck Acute Care Centre.
BC Women’s new Newborn ICU features 70 private rooms designed for tiny patients and their families. 10 of these special rooms will actually allow mothers to receive care alongside their newborns – the first in North America (and only second in the world) to completely redesign the model of care. This is all thanks to over 4,000 donors who contributed $17 million towards the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for the smallest patients at BC Women’s Hospital.
For parents like Tawnya Ritco and Tom Mayenknect (pictured), the collective success of this campaign literally meant the difference between life and death for their premature daughter, Alexa.
In 2016, Alexa was born at three pounds and spent 10 weeks in the original Newborn ICU in order to survive. Ritco and Mayenknect were introduced to a hands-on approach for families, a unique model of care that will continue to be rolled out in the new facility. The new Newborn ICU will have dedicated educational spaces where parents will learn how to care for their tiny family members, easing the transition from hospital to home.
When Tawnya and Tom first saw the new facility, they had a strong emotional response reflecting on their own experience. “I immediately grasped how much of a difference the new NICU will make for new parents working their ways through the challenges around premature birth.” - Tawnya Ritco
The new Newborn ICU will have family respite and relaxation areas for parents and siblings. “As a NICU parent, I just know how much special comfort it will bring to countless families by allowing moms to stay with their babies. That will go a long way to allowing their babies to not only survive, but thrive!” - Tawnya Ritco
The Hope Starts Here campaign has been BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation’s most successful to date, keeping the Hospital at the forefront of rapid changes in technology, research and medical advancements. As the referral centre for Western Canada, BC Women’s Newborn ICU admits an average of 10 at-risk newborns per week from other hospitals, providing specialized care that can only be found at BC Women’s NICU.
“Our journey had a gratifying outcome because of the comprehensive medical care, supportive environment and leading-edge technology that is synonymous with the NICU. The new NICU in the Teck Acute Care Centre will only take all of that to the next level as an innovative model of neonatal medical care in British Columbia, Canada and the world.” - Tom Mayenknecht
“If it had to happen, I was lucky it happened here.” These are the words of a mother, Anna McCandles, as she reflects on the heartbreaking loss of her dear daughter, Josephine, on this October 15th; Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
As mothers and families worldwide take time to reflect on the losses of those taken too soon, Anna exudes a wisdom and strength earned through hearing the most tragic of words during an ultrasound at BC Women’s Hospital; “I’m so sorry.” Baby Josephine was discovered to have had her umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck and later delivered stillborn – and Anna’s life would never be the same again.
While inexplicable grief and heartbreak have marked the days, weeks and three years between then and now, Anna has elected to honour young Josephine’s memory by sharing her experience and counselling others who have shared a similar experience to reach out, receive help, pursue supports and to commemorate the lives of those unlived.
“Reach out, connect, and get support. It is so much harder to heal alone. You’re not crazy to grieve so deeply. It’s a sign of the depth of your love. You will always be the mother of this child, and they will always be a deep part of your life, rather than a traumatic event to ‘get over’ and get back to normal”.
This is what fellow NICU alumni, and filmmaker, Amanda Lockitch experienced during the birth of her son at BC Women's Hospital. The experience was so life-changing that Amanda has submitted a proposal to The STORYHIVE film contest, presented by Telus, with the hopes of winning at 100K grant to make a documentary film about life in the new NICU.
"When there is a revolution happening right in your own backyard, we feel it is extremely relevant to trumpet loudly across the community of British Columbia. The new NICU at the soon-to-open Teck Acute Care Centre is truly revolutionary. It will be a facility that BC, and our entire nation, can point to as an immense source of pride." -Amanda
If you're interested in Amanda's efforts, make sure to like and follow Amanda's pages so we can show the STORYHIVE judges that there's an audience eagerly awaiting the release of her film titled Out of the Incubator and Into my Arms.
Genesa most recently served as the Executive Director of First United Church Community Ministry Society, an inner-city ministry committed to the struggle for social justice, offering advocacy, hospitality, housing and other programs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Prior to that, she served as Acting Chief Operating Officer of Dream Corps Unlimited and Deputy Director of Green for All, both in Oakland, California; and as the Director, Community Strategies and Resource Development at Union Gospel Mission. Genesa also held senior roles with Ketchum Canada Inc. (Canada’s largest fundraising consultancy firm), working extensively with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation and other fundraising organizations.
Genesa is an experienced, proven and strategic leader and team-builder. She is “beyond excited” to be joining the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation team.
We are, of course, sorry to see Laurie retire from the CEO role after six truly outstanding years of service, but we feel we have found a very worthy successor and are excited about what Genesa will bring to the organization as we look to the opportunities ahead for BC Women’s Hospital.
She encourages women who are pregnant with multiples to be kind to themselves and accept that not everything will go according to their ideal birth plan.
"I try to manage (couples') expectations and encourage forgiveness and self-care throughout the pregnancy," she says. "The truth is that not all moms of twins have a vaginal birth and are able to exclusively breastfeed."
Bloomenthal is dedicated to helping the couples under her care to understand and cope with the challenges of a twin pregnancy and caring for two newborns.
She is a also a firm believer in the power of the support that can be found by connecting with other parents in the same situation.
Here is Dr. Dena Bloomenthal with two of her beautiful little patients
We asked her to share the common-sense advice that she gives to pregnant women and their partners when they find out there is more than one baby on the way.
Prepare for the challenges of a twin pregnancy.
As your babies grow, your size will impact every activity that you do. It will be more difficult to move around, work, drive etc. Towards the end of your pregnancy, your partner will need to help you with the simple things that you take for granted, such as getting out of bed, dressing and driving. As you grow bigger, it will also impact your ability to sleep or rest comfortably.
With a singleton, you can work to 38 weeks, but with twins, plan on finishing earlier.
Your ideal birthing plan may not be possible, but it's important to kind to yourself.
It's less likely that you will have a "normal" vaginal delivery when you are pregnant with twins. For example, epidurals are common in twin pregnancies because there are two babies to deliver and it's important for women to have good pain control. For some women, an elective (pre-booked) cesarean section will be the recommended approach.
When you have twins, feeding breast milk alone is not the norm.
Although many of the internet sources stress feeding babies with breast milk alone, not all women can breastfeed two babies exclusively.
"Trying to feed twins and pump breast milk can make women exhausted and depressed," Bloomenthal notes. "The last thing that a woman should be feeling at this point in her life is a failure. Don't base your happiness on exclusively breastfeeding. If you need to top up your babies, don't feel bad about it - just do your best."
Get help! Develop your support network.
Sort out your support network before the babies come home. When there are twins on the way, Bloomenthal recommends that partners plan on taking as much time off work as possible. Also, if grandparents, or other relatives/friends offer to come and help, take them up on it and develop a schedule so that there's always someone there to help you.
"It's so wonderful to have help holding, caring, bathing and feeding babies when you have two," she says.
If you can bring in professional help, such as a part-time nanny for a few days or nights a week, consider this option: "Just because you are home on maternity leave, it doesn't mean that you should be able to manage on your own!"
Connect with other parents of multiples.
Networking with others in the same situation gives parents the opportunity to feel connected and supported by a wider network, even when they are home all day with the babies.
Other parents with experience can provide a wealth of information - everything from advice on positions for breastfeeding two babies at once, to insights on the best baby equipment and reassurance that poor sleep patterns don't last forever.
When you are expecting multiples, your maternity care provider is the best person to provide advice and recommendations on the best resources to guide you through pregnancy, birthing and early parenting.
BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre website has breastfeeding information for parents of multiples.
Multiple Births Canada is a national support organization providing a variety of information for parents of multiples.
This article was written by Anne McLaughlin with information provided by BC Women's obstetrician, Dr. Dena Bloomenthal
Dr. Brotto has a PhD in Psychology from UBC. She also trained at the University of Washington where she completed a one-year internship in the Department of Psychiatry followed by a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine. She is a Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was the inaugural Division Head of Gynecologic Specialties until the start of this appointment. She teaches sexual health interviewing for medical students and obstetric/gynecology residents, and is a supervisor for psychology residents and practicum students. She is a Registered Psychologist with the BC College of Psychologists.
Dr. Brotto holds a Canada Research Chair in Women’s Sexual Health. She conducts research on women’s sexual health, with specific lines of focus on the development and testing of mindfulness-based and psychological treatments for women. She is a member of the International Academy of Sex Research, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, the Canadian Sex Research Forum, and the Canadian Psychological Association. She has published over 150 articles and book chapters, has given 200 invited presentations, and is frequently contacted by the media as a guest expert on the topic of sexuality. She was a member of the DSM-5 workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders published in May 2013. She is a health expert writer for the Globe and Mail where she writes a monthly column focused on sexual health and well-being.
The mandate of the Executive Director, WHRI will include setting the health research agenda for WHRI in conjunction with senior leadership at BC Women’s. Dr. Brotto will work with an Advisory Council and will collaborate with research leadership at UBC and other health authority research institutes to define and facilitate a women’s health research strategy for BC. She will play a pivotal role in the team effort towards integrating and coordinating the women’s health research effort within BC Women’s, PHSA, UBC and other partner universities. Her responsibilities will include planning, organizing, staffing, directing and managing outcomes of the WHRI and working effectively with government and community partners to enable the integrated research vision.
Dr. Brotto’s office will be located in the WHRI on the 3rd Floor of the Women’s Health Centre at BCW where she will be onsite Wednesdays and Thursdays. She will maintain an office and laboratory at the Diamond Health Care Centre the rest of the week.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Brotto on her appointment, and in welcoming her to her new role in the Women’s Health Research Institute!
Dr. Paula Gordon and her colleagues are comparing traditional 2D mammography screening combined with tomosynthesis mammography with traditional 2D mammography alone. The purpose of this study is to compare the recall rate of these two methods.
The recall rate is the number of women, out of all women that have a screening mammogram, who are asked to return for additional testing due to an abnormal result. Abnormal results do not mean that a cancer was found, but that additional testing is required. More than 95% of women who do need additional testing will ultimately receive a normal result.
Studies have previously compared tomosynthesis mammography to traditional 2D mammography. Many of these studies showed that tomosynthesis allows for better imaging of the breast, higher breast cancer detection accuracy, and fewer false-positive results than traditional 2D mammography, however the results are not consistent.
This study will be the first of its kind in Canada to address the existing inconsistent results. This study aims to compare the number of women who are recalled for additional testing from traditional 2D mammography to traditional 2D mammography and tomosynthesis.
In total, approximately 3000 women will be recruited to participate in this study. The findings from this study will help determine whether tomosynthesis results in fewer false-positive findings than traditional 2D mammography (the current method of screening for breast cancer in British Columbia).
Currently, genetic disorders like neurological problems, acute metabolic collapse, and malformations make up a large percentage of the patients in B.C. neonatal intensive care units (NICU). The genome sequencing under RAPIDOMICS could significantly speed up the time to get an accurate and rapid diagnosis for patients with these types of disorders.
For more information about the projects at Genome BC, please visit: www.genomebc.ca
To read the press release click here.
Every year, more than 270,000 women worldwide, most of them in the prime of their lives with babies and young families, die from cervical cancer. Without immediate action, by 2030 that number is projected to rise to 500,000. It’s a human tragedy of monumental proportions, made all the more heartbreaking by the fact that cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable.
Now, thanks to a world renowned collaboration of leading BC health agencies led by Dr. Gina Ogilvie and Dr. Deborah Money at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, researchers are getting close to eliminating that statistic. “At last,” says Ogilvie, “we have the possibility to head down the road to eradication.”
Ogilvie, Canada Research Chair in Global Control of HPV-related Disease at UBC and a lead investigator with the Women’s Health Research Institute at BC Women’s, says research into the relationship between the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) and the development of cervical cancer clearly points to HPV screening and prevention as key to ultimately eliminating the disease: “There’s no question that HPV-testing is the biggest breakthrough in preventing cervical cancer since the Pap smear.”
Thanks to Ogilvie, together with world-class collaborators like the BC Cancer Agency’s Andrew Coldman, BC Women’s has emerged as a world leader in the global fight to end cervical cancer. Their newly launched HPV FOCAL Study, which is comparing HPV and Pap test screening results, represents research that may ultimately lead to changes to cervical cancer screening approaches in the future.
Leading global change
The groundbreaking work of Ogilvie – a world-renowned expert in HPV – together with partners like Simon Dobson at CFRI and their team has already influenced global policy on cervical cancer prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted BC Women’s two-dose HPV vaccination protocol to prevent HPV infection. On another front, BC Women’s ASPIRE Project (Advances in Screening and Prevention in Reproductive Cancers), focused in Uganda, is transforming early screening among poor and rural populations. Here, BC Women’s has rolled out an innovative program that allows women to collect their own vaginal specimens for HPV testing using a self-test kit. This simple, cost-effective initiative could save the lives of millions of women, not only in developing countries, but also among poor, rural and marginalized women in Canada.
Saving women’s lives
Every single day, young women, most of them desperately poor, die from cervical cancer due to a lack of easy access to HPV screening and early cancer detection. Ogilvie and her multi-disciplinary research team at BC Women’s Hospital are both wholly committed and perfectly placed to grow the global knowledge base and develop the tools necessary to end this scourge. It’s an effort Ogilvie knows will transform the health and lives not only of women, but also of their children and families, both here at home and around the world. Caring donors, like you, will make it possible.
Written by Ann Collette
SEATTLE (April 29, 2015)—Nordstrom, Inc., a leading fashion retailer based in the U.S., announced today that it will celebrate the opening of its Pacific Centre flagship store in Vancouver with a gala on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. The event will benefit BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation, Covenant House Vancouver and Vancouver Art Gallery. Nordstrom Pacific Centre officially opens on Friday, September 18, 2015 at 10 a.m.
Gala attendees will be among the first to preview the new 230,000 square-foot store, while enjoying cocktails, dinner, desserts, live entertainment, fashion presentations and the opportunity to shop. Nordstrom will underwrite the event and 100 percent of tickets sales will directly benefit the selected organizations and their important community programs. Tickets for the gala will go on sale on June 24, 2015.
“Vancouver is fortunate to have such an exceptionally supportive community. We’re proud to be partnering with BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, BC Women’s Hospital Foundation, Covenant House Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery on our signature opening event,” said Chris Wanlass, Nordstrom Pacific Centre store manager. “We invite everyone to join us for our opening party and together we can support the community and celebrate fashion all in one evening.”
BC Children’s Hospital is the province’s only full-service acute-care hospital dedicated to serving close to one million children living in BC and the Yukon. All children who are seriously ill or injured are referred to Children’s Hospital and are either treated at the hospital in Vancouver or, in consultation with Children’s specialists, in their home community. Last year, more than 84,000 children were treated at Children’s Hospital, making close to 230,000 visits. Only BC Children’s Hospital has the critical mass of expertise in pediatric subspecialties in clinical care and research required to treat young patients with complex medical conditions and serious injuries.
“With the opening of Nordstrom Pacific Centre, and as a beneficiary of the opening gala, BC Children’s Hospital will be better able to serve seriously ill or injured children and their families. This is great for our children, our communities and our province,” said Teri Nicholas, president & CEO, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre is the only facility in BC dedicated to meeting the provincial health care needs of women, newborn babies and their families. Averaging 7,000 births and 68,000 patients annually, BC Women’s is one of Canada’s biggest and busiest obstetrical centres. As the provincial experts in maternity care, BC Women’s specialists diagnose and care for the riskiest pregnancies and the ‘sickest of the sick’ newborn and premature babies. 1,400 of the sickest and smallest babies from around the province receive life saving care at BC Women’s Newborn ICU.
“BC Women’s Hospital is thrilled to partner with Nordstrom and the other organizations who are benefitting from the gala in celebrating the opening of their new flagship store in Vancouver. This unique partnership opportunity demonstrates Nordstrom’s commitment to bringing their culture of service to Vancouver by acknowledging the important role each participating charity plays in the community,” said Laurie Clarke, CEO, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation.
Covenant House Vancouver offers a 24-hour crisis program, a supportive transitional living program, street outreach, and a daily drop-in for homeless, runaway and street involved youth aged 16-25. Covenant House supports young people by providing a continuum of care that meets them where they are at, understanding that no two young people have the same needs.
“Covenant House is honoured to be partnering with Nordstrom for their Gala Opening in Vancouver and we are so thrilled to have been chosen as one of four organizations to be highlighted for this extra special occasion,” said Krista Thompson, executive director, Covenant House Vancouver.
Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of the most respected and innovative visual arts institutions in Canada and is committed to strengthening ties between artists and diverse communities throughout the city, province and beyond. As the largest public art museum in Western Canada, the Gallery features the work of ground-breaking contemporary artists from around the world and presents historical art of international significance, is committed to exploring the art of Asia, and provides a global platform for British Columbia's dynamic artistic community, including the work of First Nations artists. Its growing collection represents the most comprehensive resource for art in British Columbia and is the principal repository for visual art produced in the region, as well as related works by other notable Canadian and international artists.
“The Vancouver Art Gallery is extremely grateful to be one of the beneficiaries of Nordstrom’s extraordinary opening gala. The proceeds will support and expand the dynamic range of educational programs for visitors at the Gallery, from exhibition tours led by experts, inspirational artist talks and lectures to cutting-edge performance and hands-on art-making workshops. Our programs create a place of conversation, learning and exchange inspired by the most compelling art of our times, and Nordstrom’s support will help the Vancouver Art Gallery to foster the development and growth of creative passions in our city,” said Vancouver Art Gallery Director Kathleen Bartels.
Nordstrom, Inc. is a leading fashion specialty retailer based in the U.S. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 303 stores in 38 states and Canada. Customers are served at 116 Nordstrom stores in the U.S. and two in Canada; 177 Nordstrom Rack stores; two Jeffrey boutiques; and one clearance store. Additionally, customers are served online through Nordstrom.com, Nordstromrack.com and HauteLook. The company also owns Trunk Club, a personalized clothing service serving customers online at TrunkClub.com and its five clubhouses. Nordstrom, Inc.'s common stock is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol JWN.
Now, Dr. Young and his colleagues have the opportunity to change how we treat endometriosis and deep dyspareunia through their study, the “Etiology of Dyspareunia in Endometriosis”. Over the next 3 years Dr. Yong’s interdisciplinary team of researchers, including geneticists, psychologists, epidemiologists and other obstetrical-gynaecological pathologists, will conduct a holistic research program to understand how different risk factors interact with endometriosis to cause deep dyspareunia.
For the many women who suffer silently from this difficult condition the treatment options that arise from this research could be life-changing. Rather than undergoing surgery after surgery, a woman may be able to find relief through psychological counseling for depression or prevent it entirely through genetic testing. We are thrilled that BC Women’s Dr. Yong and his team are at the forefront of this exciting new research!
Dr. Yong directs the Research Program at the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain & Endometriosis. His clinical research interests are in endometriosis and pelvic pain, and his translational research interests include bio-banking of endometriosis, gene sequencing in endometriosis, and investigating nerve formation in the pelvis as a cause of pain. Dr. Yong is also involved in teaching and is Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Division of Gynaecologic Specialties.
Please make a donation to help women regain control over pain and their lives.
As the only facility in Western Canada dedicated exclusively to the health of women, babies, and families, BC Women’s Hospital is the busiest maternity hospital in Canada. It is estimated that about 20 percent of British Columbia’s babies are born at BC Women’s Hospital, including some of the province’s most critically ill and premature babies. As a matter of fact, the more-than-80-year-old organization is the only hospital in the province that can care for babies born as early as 23 weeks.
After spending years in the nonprofit industry, fund-raising for postsecondary education, Clarke jumped at a chance to join the organization and contribute to maximizing the hospital’s fund-raising potential. She had just left a longtime position at a technology institute when she learned that BC Women’s Hospital was searching for a new CEO. She had never worked in the health-care industry, but she figured the methodology in fund-raising crossed sectors.
“I’ve been CEO for four years now, and I still feel so lucky each time I come into work,” Clarke says. “I never thought about taking on a new role in an unfamiliar industry; it just sort of happened. I think of it as a late-stage learning opportunity, and I’m so grateful for it. Nothing is more meaningful than seeing tangible differences in the lives of families. Contributing to that in any way is an honour.”
But it’s not without its challenges. The hurdles that Clarke and her team encounter are common throughout their sector: provincial resources only cover so much, meaning the hospital is dependent on donations to make cutting-edge technology and equipment possible. Constant technological innovations are expensive to keep up with, and BC Women’s Hospital requires the best of the best to ensure the 7,000 babies born in its care each year—some with unique needs—are well taken care of.
“The real challenge is donor support,” Clark says. “Fund-raising is a sophisticated business full of professionals and worthy causes. There’s no single reason why a person would support one good cause over another. So much of what we do is making sure donors understand the unique role of BC Women’s Hospital.”
And what makes it unique is the community it serves. The hospital treats the highest-risk maternity patients and the most severely ill newborns in the province. What’s also special is the hospital’s approach of collaborating with other hospitals to offer the best specialized care possible.
Clarke’s role as CEO, however, isn’t just a job. As a daughter, mother, and grandmother, she truly cares about women and is deeply invested in their health and well-being. “Since taking on this role, I’ve really come to look at the importance of health for women,” she says. “Women are often the switchboard of their families and their workplaces. If a woman you rely on is unhealthy, the ripple effects of it are immeasurable. Investing in the well-being of a woman is investing in the well-being of entire families.
This means treating women who urgently need care, but it also means providing preventative services, such as state-of-the-art digital-imaging technology at the hospital’s new Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre. Digital mammography with tomosynthesis takes high-resolution pictures of a breast from multiple angles, combining them into computer-generated 3-D images. This enables critical details to be viewed more easily, drastically improving the chance of finding breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stages. Clarke cites the Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre as one of her team’s proudest achievements, made possible by a $3 million donation from the Gordon and Leslie Diamond family.
But none of the hospital’s achievements would be possible without its dedicated employees, which is why Clarke’s goal moving forward is to let staff and volunteers know the difference they make in the lives of people each day. “Everyone is so humble, so it will be an eternal goal,” Clarke says. “I want to talk about their achievements because they won’t. I want the people who work here to receive recognition for the amazing, critical work they do. I want everyone to know what a key resource we are to the province and how so much of that is owed to the people who work here and the donors who support us.”
Written by Tina Vasquez for Advantage Magazine
Photograpy by Brian Howell
Five hospital sites in four cities have partnered with Canadian Blood Services to build this program. “This is a significant achievement for the Canadian health-care system,” said Dr. Graham Sher, Canadian Blood Services chief executive officer. “Through our hospital partners, we are able to provide expectant mothers the opportunity to donate to a national public cord blood bank; increasing the chances for patients who need a stem cell transplant to find a match.”
Cord blood is a rich source of blood forming stem cells that can be used in the treatment of over 80 diseases and disorders. With the number of Canadian patients waiting to receive a stem cell transplant tripling over the last five years, demand for stem cells has been growing at a steady rate.
On any given day, nearly 1,000 Canadians are in need of a stem cell donor and many of these patients are from ethnically diverse backgrounds. With Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank we are increasing the opportunities for these patients to find a stem cell match, as well as contributing to the international database for patients around the world.
Even with access to over 635,000 publicly - banked cord blood units and over 25.5 million adult donors, unfortunately, half of the patients in Canada requiring a stem cell donor are without a match.
Partnering hospitals are:
- BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre
- The Ottawa Hospital General Campus and Civic Campus
- William Osler Health System’s Brampton Civic Hospital
- Alberta Health Services’ Lois Hole Hospital for Women in Edmonton
- The above hospitals are now collecting cord blood donations to be banked publically from expectant mothers who deliver in these locations.
- Cord blood stem cells are less mature than adult stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood which means that cord blood stem cells do not necessarily require the donor and patient to be a perfect match.
- Approximately 75 per cent of patients rely on the generosity of an unrelated stem cell donor to save their life.
- Blood stem cells are immature cells that give rise to the cells found in the bloodstream: red blood cells for oxygen transportation, platelets for blood clotting and white blood cells for fighting infections.
Find out more about becoming a cord blood donor.
When it comes to what’s best for babies, nothing beats mother’s milk. Human milk is vital to supporting the health of every newborn, but especially for premature and critically ill babies. That’s why BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre created its donor Milk Bank program.
BC Women’s Milk Bank, one of only two hospital-based milk programs in Canada, collects and then distributes pasteurized donor human milk to BC’s sickest babies. Thanks to generous donors to BC Women’s Hospital Foundation like you, even more moms of healthy babies can donate breast milk for the ailing babies of moms who can’t breastfeed or produce enough milk.
“In addition to containing all the nutrients an infant needs for healthy growth and development, breast milk is more easily digestible than cow’s milk or formula,” says Frances Jones, a lactation specialist and coordinator of BC Women’s Milk Bank. “It also includes powerful antibodies that help protect babies from developing illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea, and other significant chronic and developmental conditions.”
“Research also shows that infants in the Newborn ICU who receive breast milk, are 63-per-cent less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and show a 92-per-cent reduction in surgical NEC,” adds Marg Seppelt, patient care services director at BC Women’s.
Seppelt says the program first screens all donor moms, who then drop off excess breast milk at one of the program’s milk collection depots. The recent expansion of the program added 17 new locations across the Fraser Valley, from Burnaby to Hope. BC Women’s Hospital has even established a drive-in breast milk drop-off at the entrance to the hospital. All donated breast milk comes to BC Women’s to be pasteurized, and is then distributed to hospitals throughout BC, including to the Newborn ICUs at Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian hospitals.
Every baby deserves the best start at a healthy life. Thanks to the donors who made it possible to expand the Milk Bank program, babies throughout BC will have even greater access to the mother’s milk they need to thrive and grow.
Please make a donation to help babies in need of the very best nourishment, who are helped every day by the BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank.
Written by Michelle Hopkins for Women's Magazine
Dr. Ogilvie has been influential in setting and directing health policy on reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, HPV screening and the HPV vaccine, both in Canada and globally. She provides advice and consultation to national and international institutions, including the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Public Health Agency of Canada, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Ministries of Health on STI, HIV and HPV vaccine policy and programming.
‘I’m truly delighted that our team was able to secure this highly competitive funding. It’s a tremendous honour, and an indication of the exceptional innovative and relevant research that is going on at BC Women’s and PHSA agencies. It’s a wonderful acknowledgement that here in BC, we are indeed leaders in the global effort to eliminate cervical cancer.’
As principal investigator, her research has attracted over $13 million in grants, receiving funding from PHAC, CIHR, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), and private foundations, among others. Dr. Ogilvie has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and speaks widely at international and national research and education conferences.
Dr. Wendy Norman, a BC Women’s Hospital researcher who holds a Chair in Family Planning, is leading innovative research into the contraceptive needs of BC Women. A Women’s Health Survey is currently underway across BC. This door-to-door survey will provide critical information about supporting equitable access to family planning knowledge, services and methods for the average woman.
To determine how to best support women in the most vulnerable situations, BC Women’s needs your help to make sure the survey reaches out to as many women as possible. Your funds can help ensure women across BC have access to the contraceptive information and methods they need. A $50,000 matching gift is being offered by a generous donor to kick start this research.
Please make a donation to support this research today
Please feel free to contact Aimee Nygaard at 604-875-2424 ext 6410 for more information.
As yoga focuses on developing body awareness, it can be a good fit for pregnant women and their partners, explains yoga teacher Janice Clarfield.
"Pregnancy can be a beautiful time to begin a practice of yoga," she says."There is no better way to prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenthood than with the practice of yoga and mindfulness."
The awareness that develops from yoga practice brings a confidence in your body that will help you when it's time to give birth.
For pregnant women, yoga goes far beyond exercising, Clarfield says. Yoga helps to empower women and prepare them to make informed decisions about birthing, as well as connect more deeply with their unborn baby. Joining a class can also bring a sense of connection and community, helping women connect with their partners and develop a peer group for sharing experiences with other couples.
For BC Women's family physician, Dr. Karen Buhler, yoga was a lifesaver. She had discovered yoga before she became pregnant and continued to practice yoga to prepare for labour and birth. She found it helped her to get stronger and learn how to use her breath to relax. However, one day when she was eight months pregnant and home alone she started to choke. Fortunately, she remembered her yoga training: "The only thing I could think of was to somehow get myself upside down. I looked for the nearest wall and kicked up into arm balance (a supported handstand). Out came the piece of food and I could breathe again. If I had not practised this before pregnancy in yoga class I don't know what I would have done."
What to expect in a Prenatal Yoga class
As there are many variables within the practice of yoga, class content also varies from instructor to instructor. Clarfield begins by teaching body wisdom as a basic principle - listening to your own body and modifying any poses or movements that do not feel right. You can learn to be present, centred, grounded and balanced, no matter where the body is.
Women sign up for a series of weekly classes, and partners usually join in from 20 weeks onward. It's also possible to take a one-time couples workshop. The classes focus on breathing, relaxing, visualizing, as well as learning techniques to keep the blood flow moving and practising sounds that can help the body to relax. Many of Clarfield's students talk about the value of the vocal toning or sounding that they learned and practised in class in helping them "let go" and relax their muscles during childbirth.
Some components of yoga teaching, such as visualization, have strong links with meditation practice, underlining the strong relationship that sees between the two disciplines and the importance of developing "the muscle of the mind" to help with birthing.
Although class may be the only time in the week that pregnant students may formally practise yoga, Clarfield believes in helping her students to integrate the benefits of yoga into their daily lives. For example, women learn that a ringing phone can be a trigger to breathe more deeply, and stopping at a red light is a cue to focus on your posture.
Whether you are in the first or final trimester of pregnancy, yoga can be helpful, Clarfield says. "I tell my students that it's never too soon and it's never too late."
Involving your partner
Clarfield believes that partner involvement in yoga practice is helpful - it enables couples to learn how to communicate around what the woman needs or wants during labour and how her partner can have a positive impact on the birthing experience. Getting together with other couples in a yoga class also provides an opportunity to share experiences and thoughts about labour and birthing.
Finding a class
A pioneer of Prenatal Yoga in Vancouver, Clarfield still teaches Prenatal and Hatha yoga locally. However, she is also in demand internationally to provide professional development for yoga teachers interested in developing their skills with pregnant women.
Clarfield advises that there are many Prenatal Yoga options available, but it's important to find a teacher that works for you, whether you prefer a more active or gentle approach to class. Hot yoga is not recommended for pregnant women - excess heat can put your baby at greater risk of neural tube defects (which impact the baby's spine or brain) or other abnormalities. Many BC communities have Prenatal Yoga classes available. Look for one at your local community centre or yoga studio, or ask your physician, midwife or doula for information.
Prenatal Yoga Classes in Vancouver
This article was written by Anne McLaughlin and reviewed by BC Women's Family Practitioner, Dr. Karen Buhler.
As a young general practitioner, Abrahams routinely saw women recovering from drug addiction have their babies removed from their care immediately after birth – a practice he found totally unacceptable. In 2003, to address the needs of these women, Abrahams established BC Women’s Fir Square Combined Unit, the first program of its kind in Canada dedicated to keeping moms with their babies as they stabilize and withdraw from substance use.
Since then, Dr. Abrahams has been a key member of an international quality improvement effort, serving as a visionary member of the Steering Committee for the Vermont Oxford Network’s internet-based Quality Improvement Collaborative. Over 200 teams from the US, Canada, and Ireland have enrolled to systematically spread quality and improve outcomes.
Nurture the Mother: Nurture the Child a video produced by the Vermont Oxford Network in collaboration with Dr. Abrahams and Dr. Amy Salmon transported the teams to the Vancouver Sheway and Fir Square Program. Here they learned firsthand about the success of this comprehensive program, and were inspired by the rooming-in model of care.
Teams in this collaborative have universally developed policies and reshaped practices to improve the quality, safety and value of care for this vulnerable population.
Dr. Abrahams will continue the spread and scale of this powerful work and the collaboration with the Vermont Oxford Network’s quality improvement collaborative in 2015.