Reach! Excellence in Health Care Fundraising

Reach! 1When Calgary Health Trust, Calgary Health Region (now Alberta Health Services) and the University of Calgary began the Reach! campaign, Calgary's most ambitious joint health care fundraising campaign to date, it was a true testament to the generosity of Calgarians. More than 900 individuals, families, foundations and corporations gave to the campaign, helping raise more than $312 million to achieve a new standard of health for Calgarians and southern Albertans. More than 100 medical initiatives, including new education programs, innovative research, new health care facilities and improved patient care were achieved through the campaign.

"Reach! demonstrated that, with clarity of purpose, donors have an important role to play in achieving excellence in health research, education and delivery, and that with significant philanthropic support, transformation can be achieved," says Sally Flintoft, CEO, Calgary Health Trust.

The Reach! campaign raised funds for the following areas of health care: cardiovascular; infection, immunity and inflammation; urology; cancer; neurosciences; public health and wellness; and bone and joint.

Some of the initiatives in each of these areas include:

  • Enhancing the Falls Prevention Program. The program gives clinicians tools to identify older adults at risk of falling and implement strategies to address these risks. It aims to reduce falls and fall-related injuries within the community, hospitals, nursing homes, home care and other care facilities. The program helps ensure Albertans have a better chance of living longer and doing so in better health.
  • Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (CEID). The CEID is advancing the world's understanding of new bacteria and viruses. CEID director Mike Surette, PhD, is building the Centre's international recognition through his work in the International Human Microbiome Consortium (HMC), a project that examines the sequence of microbes in the human body. The project is opening up a whole new level of personalized medicine that will change the way illness and disease is fought.
  • Centre for Excellence in Hypertension (CEH). The newly-established CEH, led by Dr. Norm Campbell of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, is currently at the forefront of researching the effect salt has on hypertension. Dr. Campbell's research is helping the government develop recommendations for food manufacturers about appropriate sodium levels in their products.
  • Managing stress with cancer. The Reach! campaign helped create the Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology, the first of its kind in Canada and one of few in the world. Dr. Linda Carlson, a clinical psychologist, was the inaugural recipient. As Chair, Dr. Carlson has introduced several initiatives to reduce the stress of managing cancer. These initiatives include electronic kiosks where patients can fill out a survey on their personal well-bring and receive a personalized plan to address their concerns. A wide range of programs are also being introduced to help patients manage their own stress reduction strategies, including yoga, meditation, sleep wellness and smoking cessation.
  • Cardiovascular defibrillator study. Dr. Derek Exner of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute has developed a way to identify patients at high risk of a serious heart rhythm problem called "sudden cardiac arrest," which is responsible for killing thousands of Albertans every year. Dr. Exner and his team are looking at a small device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which is part of a $16.8 million international research project called REFINE ICD, to see if implanting the device can prevent death from serious heart rhythm problems in patients who survived a heart attack.
  •  Using CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds for stroke research. Dr. Andrew Demchuk, stroke neurologist at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, is researching the use of MRI scans, CT scans and ultrasounds to identify patients at risk of developing severe disabilities following a stroke, as well as identifying patients at higher risk of experiencing a second stroke. Dr. Demchuk's research and leadership helped the Calgary Stroke Program become a key training centre nationally and internationally.
  • The Forzani and MacPhail Colon Cancer Screening Centre (CCSC). Through the Reach! campaign, Calgarians now have access to the largest colon cancer screening centre in the country. The CCSC opened in 2008, with the vision of using early detection to reduce the number of colon cancer cases in Alberta. The centre not only provides screening and treatment, but also research. As researchers at the centre learn more about the factors that contribute to colon cancer, the CSCC will be examining new ways to treat and detect colon cancer.
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. The Southern Alberta Institute of Urology, a Daryl (Doc) Seaman and W. Brett Wilson initiative, is the largest, most comprehensive urology treatment centre in Canada. Since opening in September 2010, the centre offers Albertans access to the world's leading urology experts. It's a one-stop-shop for diagnosis, treatment and recovery of a number of medical conditions affecting men and women.

The Reach! campaign forever changed health care in Calgary, helping attract world-renowned medical staff and researchers to Calgary, introducing new prevention programs and strategies, establishing new facilities and facilitating groundbreaking research to improve outcomes in patient care.