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Healthcare researchers gather to share, celebrate knowledge at Niagara Health Research Day

Posted May 5th, 2023

A collage of photos of people standing next to research posters and gathered to listen to presenters speak.

Healthcare researchers from throughout Niagara, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area came together Thursday to celebrate advancements and innovation in patient care and quality improvement at Niagara Health Research Day.

More than 140 people attended the event, held at Brock University. There were also 47 research poster presentations and several workshops about research methods and studies.  

The day started with a compelling keynote address from Dr. Michael Ungar, Founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. Dr. Ungar spoke about resilience and how we can leverage our agility as individuals, health professionals, as an organization and a community to move toward our vision of becoming a learning health system. 

“The event truly was a celebration of research and quality improvement activities happening across Niagara,” says Elaina Orlando, Niagara Health’s Manager of Research. “You could feel the positive energy as people interacted with colleagues and collaborators they may not have seen in several years or those they were meeting face-to-face for the first time. One walk through the poster sessions and you could see the interconnectedness of Niagara Health and our partner organizations. There were so many posters with authors representing different organizations working together on research and quality. 

“This illustrates the point Dr. Michael Ungar made about individual and organizational resilience during times of transformation,” she adds. “He told us that context matters and we are only as strong as the resources around us. As Niagara Health, we are fortunate for the resources we have around us in terms of our partner organizations — Brock, Niagara College, Niagara Region, McMaster University — which set us up to be resilient and successful in our transformation as the community hospital of Niagara where research is part of our identity.”

Niagara Health Research Day closed by feting two accomplished researchers, Dr. Erick Duan, who was awarded the Medical Staff Association Physician Research Award, and Virginia Pullar, who received the Dr. Johan Viljoen Staff Research Award. 

Photo 1: Dr. Erick Duan (left) accepts his Physician Research Award from Zeau Ismail, Director of Interprofessional Practice, Ethics and Research.

Photo 2: Virginia Pullar accepts the Staff Research Award from Dr. Johan Viljoen, Executive Vice-President, Medical, and Chief of Staff. 

Dr. Duan, a critical care physician at Niagara Health, has been integral in growing the critical care research program as part of a team attracting 12 multi-centre international and national randomized control trials, and seven multi-centre national observational studies. Dr. Duan is also working on a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded trial comparing administration of a placebo to standard practice to see if it results in a reduction in ventilator-associated pneumonia, c.difficile infection, duration of mechanical ventilation, ICU and hospital length-of-stay and 60-day mortality. 

Pullar, Co-ordinator in Decision Support, was recognized for her enterprising use of data to support research and quality improvement activities at Niagara Health. Findings from one project she was involved in, Exploring Changes in Patient Safety Incidents During the COVID-19 Pandemic, were published recently in the Journal of Patient Safety. This project was inspired by Pullar identifying an increase in the number of patient falls during the early part of the pandemic, and included collaboration with members of our anesthesiology department and the EMRoN Team.

Niagara Health System