Thanks to collaboration, cooperation, and a lot of patience, the dream for research capacity is realized at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.
When the Lois Hole Hospital for Women opened its doors eight years ago the healthcare landscape in Edmonton and northern Alberta shifted dramatically. Edmonton was now home to the province’s first dedicated women’s hospital, a teaching and research facility that would provide tertiary inpatient care and specialized out-patient clinics to more than 80,000 women each year, serving central and northern Alberta as well as neighbouring provinces and the northern territories.
Named in honour of a much-loved and iconic Alberta resident, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women ensured a new place for women’s health, squarely at the forefront, and would serve as the catalyst for improved treatment protocols, enhanced care, and where the best and brightest health practitioners and specialists would desire to work.
Check. Check. And check.
However, one important box remained empty over the past eight years – until today. Dedicated research space that provides women’s health researchers an opportunity to collaborate directly with clinicians was always part of the big picture. Eight years later – the big picture is complete as the ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place and a new era of research opens with these much anticipated doors – and for the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation and its community of donors – the men and women who first envisioned its grand potential – today is one of remarkable fruition.
The Lois Hole Hospital Women’s Research Centre is located directly adjacent to outpatient clinics that intake more than 24,000 women each year, and is the capstone to the original grand plan for the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.
“Today is a great day for women’s health, because today is a great day for women’s health research,” says Andrew Otway, President and CEO of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. “Today we open the shelled space that completes this hospital and establishes its position as a research leader in women’s health.”
“Today is a great day for women’s health, because today is a great day for women’s health research. Today we open the shelled space that completes this hospital and establishes its position as a research leader in women’s health.”
Completion of the research space is the result of a partnership between the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, the University of Alberta, and Alberta Health Services and will be home to women’s health researchers focused on improving health outcomes for women of all ages and in all stages of life.
Dr. Sandra Davidge, Executive Director of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, says the opening of this location at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women is truly significant, not just for Edmonton or Alberta, but for Canada.
“Historically women have been drastically under-represented in medical research studies, and continue to be so today. The Lois Hole Hospital Women’s Research Centre is a dedicated clinical research space that has set its sights on helping to change that fact.”
A Tier One Canada Research Chair herself, Dr. Davidge says that for generations, issues like incontinence, pelvic floor disorders, perinatal mental health, preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications, and even female reproductive cancers were health issues for which it was expected women would suffer in silence. And while women often have different risk factors for certain diseases, many treatment protocols and major pharmaceutical trials used today have been disproportionally studied on men.
“There is an imbalance in the research. Today marks another correction – there’s no question,” says Davidge.
The infrastructure for collaboration is now in place, and so the opportunities for advancement are very real, adds Dr. Radha Chari, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation Chair in Women's Health Research, and head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.
“We’re all different; we all have different areas of interest, which I think is a really great thing,” says Dr. Chari. “Obstetrics and gynecology is vast and covers a broad area. It’s becoming more important that we link our research to clinical practice. We are thrilled to see the opening of this space as the next step in the future of women’s health in our province.”
To close, Otway states it this way: “Remember, we’re talking about the future health of our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters. It was the vision of women leadership in our community and members of our board of directors to create something special. The opening of the Lois Hole Hospital Women’s Research Centre is the achievement of this vision.”