Department Head’s Message


Allison A. Eddy, MD, FRCP(C), Department Head

Allison A. Eddy, MD, FRCP(C), Department Head

I would like to provide a brief summary of the 2013 highlights in the Department of Pediatrics, as we have experienced an incredible year. We are just off the launching pad with our revitalized strategic plan, Vision 2020, which serves as our guide in determining which among an endless list of laudatory child and youth healthcare needs, ideas, and dreams compete for a finite repository of time, money, people, and space. I am particularly excited that John Jacob joined the Department in March 2013 as Senior Manager, Strategy and Innovation.  Under his able leadership, you can rest assured that Vision 2020 will not sit on a shelf gathering dust, as is the fate of most strategic plans. In fact, several new projects have already entered the early implementation phase. Reaching this stage of the process required participation by many of you, to whom I send a heartfelt thank-you. For those of you standing on the sidelines with skepticism, I would love nothing more than to hear from you and to see you become engaged.  We owe a special thank-you to Dean Stuart, as well as Peter Lee and Sonia Gawlick from Tekara Inc., who provided critical support and guidance during the early development phase of Vision 2020. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of our first guiding coalition (JP Collet, Doug Matsell, Nancy Lanphear, Ashley Roberts, Catherine Pallen, Georgia Petropoulos, Peter Skippen, Caron Strahlendorf and Stuart Turvey), as everyone worked with Maryam Saeri and I in establishing our strategic foundation.  With the transition from concept development and planning to action and implementation, we have assembled a new Strategic Planning Advisory Group (Mary Bennett, Mariana Brussoni, Caron Strahlendorf, Maureen O’Donnell and Lori Tucker).

The year has also been a time of transition, as we bid a bittersweet farewell to Maryam Saeri in October, and look forward to Christine Veloso joining our team as Senior Director, Administration and Patient Care Services. Christine hails from UBC, Faculty of Medicine Dean’s Office where she has been the Director of Finance and Compliance for several years. 2013 has also been a landmark year for our partners, with the selection of Dr. Wyeth Wasserman as the next Executive Director of the Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI), and the completion of incredible work on the capital campaign led by the BCCH Foundation, with involvement of numerous faculty, staff and community donors. We are on target to open a new Acute Care pediatric facility in 2018!

Below, I highlight just a few of our achievements in 2013, framed through the structure of our Pediatrics Strategic Plan – 2015-2020.

Our People.  Faculty recruitment, contract and salary agreement renewals (often done annually), and UBC promotions represent a major focus of our work, involving the entire departmental administrative team.  In 2013, the Department welcomed 15 new clinical faculty, 3 academic faculty, 7 locum physicians, 5 clinical associates and 62 contracts and/or salary agreements were renewed.

Finalized UBC faculty promotions were: Full Professor: Drs. Ran Goldman, Kevan Jacobson, Hal Siden, Anne Synnes, Associate Professor: Drs. Julie Bettinger and Edmond Chan.  New leadership positions include Dr. Garth Meckler, Emergency Medicine Division Head, Dr. Edmond Chan, Head of the newly integrated Division of Allergy and Immunology, Dr. Ashley Roberts, Antibiotic Stewardship, Dr. Janet Greenman, Co-director Pediatric Residency Program, Dr. Margaret Colbourne, Head Child Protection and Dr. Tim Oberlander, Head of the Developmental Neurosciences & Child Health research cluster.

On a related note, I am fully committed to and have prioritized within our strategic plan, the improvement of our promotion processes which currently take too long.

Several faculty received awards of recognition that are too numerous to list here, but a special mention of Dr. David Scheifele who was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

In an effort to achieve greater departmental unity, strategic initiatives related to this theme have been prioritized for immediate action,  A sample of current projects underway includes our revamped communication strategy, (including website, newsletter and digital media), mentorship program development, and the creation of several tools and resources to better support and engage our faculty, staff, students, and partners.

Integration (with our broader clinical, research and academic community partners) is essential to our mission of improving the health of BC’s children and youth. Department members universally endorse a provincial mandate extending far beyond the Oak Street campus.  We are working closer than ever with Child Heath BC, under the leadership of Maureen O’Donnell.  Defining the four “Tiers of Service” is underway in several pediatric subspecialty programs, as we work towards the vision of integrated provincial “divisions”.  Creating evidence-based clinical care pathways and measuring quality of care have become a standard component of our work, as these responsibilities are integral to our mandate as an academic healthcare center.  Telehealth and telemedicine opportunities are becoming a near-reality.

With plans for electronic medical records in British Columbia in the near future, many of us hope that patient-based research and systematic outcome measurements will soon become the standard of pediatric practice in British Columbia.  Several Departmental faculty members participated in a “Translational Bioinformatics” workshop in the fall, with a view to achieving these goals. The care of children and youth with chronic and complex medical conditions is consuming an ever-increasing fraction of our time and budgets.

I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Tammie Dewan for her tireless efforts in creating a Complex Care team for the BCCH Clinical Teaching Unit. Transitioning the care of our patients to adult healthcare systems is far from optimal.  Dr. Sandy Whitehouse and colleagues are leading the charge provincially in making substantive improvements with transitional care. On a population basis, these diseases are rare and it is only through national and international partnerships that numbers sufficient for meaningful statistical analysis can be collated.

Dr. Anne Junker’s work as Scientific Director, Maternal Infant Child & Youth Research Network (MICYRN) has helped create an integrated infrastructure for practice-based networks and research teams across Canada to build research capacity and achieve our research goals.

Performance improvement and professional growth are critical elements for success and career satisfaction.  We are striving to create systems and metrics essential to achieving improvement. If it cannot be measured, it cannot be improved. While important on numerous levels, ensuring our fiscal sustainability as a thriving academic department is a top priority.  We are striving to implement more user-friendly systems, enabling us to provide the health authorities with the data they require. In fact, we are doing significantly more work than was originally requested of us, with every indication that this growth will be sustained. The only way requests for increased faculty numbers can be justified is by providing the evidence with these data.

In the interim, I remain cautiously optimistic that we will have a funded “Pediatric Practice Plan” sooner rather than later.  I would particularly like to thank Maryam Saeri and Dr. Rob Liston, Executive Associate Dean, Clinical Affairs for their tireless efforts in fighting on behalf the Department Pediatric Practice Plan.

Discovery and Innovation is the foundational fabric of an academic healthcare network. In partnership with the CFRI and other departments and research centres at UBC, we are fortunate to be able to create collaborative research teams.  I will leave full reporting of 2013 research accomplishments to CFRI and I’m delighted to see a more welcoming culture emerging at CFRI, such that the majority of the Department’s Faculty are now CFRI members – I also encourage those of you who wish to be, to make your interests known.

Research accomplishments have been impressive this year, including faculty recognition awards to Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, Western Society of Pediatric Research Abbott Nutrition Young Investigator award, and to Dr. Rajavel Elango, Vernon R. Young International Award for Amino Acid research.  Many extramural grants were awarded to our faculty, including a record number of new tri-council grants to Dr. Bruce Vallance in Gastroenterology. Dr. Kirk Schultz is part of a new Canadian National Transplant Research Program, awarded $13.9 million to improve survival and quality of life for transplant patients.  The growing importance of translational research is evident on this campus. 2013 CFRI Clinical Research Capacity Building Awards were awarded to Rheumatology: Dr. David Cabral, Emergency Medicine: Dr. Ran Goldman; Endocrinology: Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, and Palliative Care: Dr. Hal Siden. High impact publications have become common place and some are receiving world-wide attention. For example, Dr. Simon Dobson’s work, published in JAMA in 2013, demonstrated how two doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine provides the same protection from HPV as three dosesthe previously recommended dosage.  Dr. Dobson was recently invited to Geneva to present these findings to the World Health Organization, and in response to the findings of his study, immunization practices are changing around the world. Discovery of novel genetic causes of childhood diseases made by members of our faculty this year include mutations in the MALT1 gene as a cause of immunodeficiency: Dr. Stuart Turvey and colleagues, and new mutations in the creatine transporter gene as a cause of intellectual disability: Drs. C. van Karnebeek and A. Hill.

Improving healthcare globally is also a goal for many of our faculty. Dr. Charles Larson, who has been the Director of the BCCH International Child Heath Centre since 2008, is transitioning into retirement in 2014; we are currently exploring what the next generation of this valuable work should look like at a time when UBC is also contemplating new initiatives with which we are involved. Lest we forget, some of these global health initiatives are highly relevant to rural Canadian populations, and further underscores the importance of this work.

Teaching and Learning. 2013 was an incredibly busy year with the Royal College accreditation site visits in November. The number of individuals involved in preparation for the visit was incredible and I want to call special attention to Dr. Laura Sauvé, Residency Program Director and Sylvia Wu, Manager, Pediatrics Education for their countless working hours and guidance of all programs through the process.  The core residency program and 14 Royal College accredited subspecialty programs were re-accreditedall but one for a full six years. In addition, new training programs in Pulmonary Medicine and Palliative Care were also approved in 2013. Congratulations to everyone who was involved in this important process! Fourteen pediatric residents graduated this year, with three continuing on with subspecialty training. From a panel of 106 interviewed, thirteen outstanding Canadian medical student graduates (ten from UBC), were selected to join our program as first year residents.  Pediatric subspecialty training remains strong on our campus; 90 individuals were in training as subspecialty residents or clinical fellows in 2013 (30 graduated in June). Interest in research is growing, while global health and social pediatrics continue to be popular electives. In addition, many departmental faculty are involved in supervising research undergraduate and postdoctoral students at CFRI.  Medical school curriculum renewal is also alive and well at UBC with new ideas are emerging about how best to educate the 288 students who matriculate each year.

There is a growing interest in education as a medical career pathway. We are fortunate to have the UBC Centre for Health Education Scholarship (CHES), where four young pediatricians are currently pursuing fellowships.  The use of simulation as an educational tool is rapidly growing on this campus since the opening of the Children and Women’s Simulation Centre in the spring of 2012.  Many of our colleagues are also involved with medical education at the national level. Dr. David Dix was recognized in 2013 as the recipient of the Royal College 2013 Specialty Committee Chair Service Award.

Clinical Care and Health Advocacy sits at the core of our daily lives. Reaching beyond our mandate of providing excellent and evidence-based care for every patient we see, as an academic healthcare centre we have entrusted ourselves with the vision of fostering discovery and advancing knowledge to transform pediatric health in the not too distant future. This vision provides the foundation for each of the strategic initiatives reviewed above.  Our clinical programs in general pediatrics and each of the 18 pediatric medical subspecialty divisions are shaped by this greater vision. During the development of Vision 2020, we were, however, troubled by the fact that so many children and youth in British Columbia lack a medical home, and that timely access to medical care for non-urgent problems is unavailable to far too many of the near one million pediatric population.  These are challenging issues that we need embrace, understand and resolve.