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Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose visits St. Michael’s

Toronto, June 24, 2014

By Geoff Koehler

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose visited The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital to announce a new Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation.

The panel, chaired by former University of Toronto President Dr. David Naylor, will spend the next year looking at creative ideas and innovations that exist in Canada and elsewhere and that the federal government could support to improve health care for Canadians.

“As Health Minister, I am committed to finding ways to harness the tremendous potential of innovation and, ultimately, improving the healthcare system for Canadians,” Ambrose said. “We know more money is not the solution. It is time to get innovative and ensure our health care system continues to improve.”

Prior to the announcement, Ambrose toured the Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre, and even tried her hand at performing a “virtual” endoscopy.

“The same way flight simulators train pilots, health care professionals use patient simulators to learn first-hand how to care for patients and respond to critical situations,” said Dr. Patricia Houston, vice-president of education at St. Michael’s, who gave the tour. “Our simulation centre makes this education possible in a controlled, safe environment.”

Ambrose’s simulation centre tour began in the operating room – which was set up as it would be for an inter-professional education scenario that is often run for OB-GYN residents, pediatric residents, nurses, midwives and respiratory therapists.

The next stop was the simulation centre’s skills lab, where Ambrose met Dr. Samir Grover, a St. Michael’s gastroenterologist, who was leading the fourth annual endoscopy simulation course for University of Toronto residents. Ambrose had the opportunity to try endoscopy using the same virtual reality simulators on which the gastroenterology residents were training.

St. Michael's Hospital was a pioneer in simulation, opening Canada's second simulation centre in 1996. Research from St. Michael's has shown that surgical residents who received structured training in a simulated environment perform significantly better when they start operating on patients.

Following her tour, Ambrose announced the launch of her new Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation. In addition to Dr. Naylor, the panel is made up of prominent Canadians from across the country: Cy Frank, Neil Fraser, Francine Girard, Toby Jenkins, Jack Mintz, Chris Power and Heather Reisman.

“What I was shown in the simulation centre here at St. Michael’s is the kind of technology and innovation we hope to hear more about from this panel,” said Ambrose. “Such health care innovation is essential to ensure the future sustainability and quality of health care for Canadians.”