SJRHEM Physicians win SJRH Foundation Dragons Den and Audience Choice Awards

Congratulations to Paul Atkinson, Michael Howlett, Jay Mekwan, Mark Tutschka and Bill O’Reilly for taking the SJRH Foundation Dragons Den top prize of $75,000 for their Cardiac Arrest ECMO project. James French, Tushar Pishe and Ian Watson won the Audience Choice award for their Trauma Simulation project. A great performance by SJRHEM Physicians!



The Dragons

Scott McCain, Dr. David Elias, Derek Pannell

Click here for video


The Teams

Team: Dr. Paul Atkinson, Dr. Michael Howlett, Dr. Mark Tutschka, Dr. Jay Mekwan, and Mr. Bill O’Reilly. Department of Emergency Medicine

Despite modern advances in CPR and resuscitation, the average survival rate for adults suffering a cardiac arrest outside of hospital is 4 out of every 100. Right now, if defibrillation does not work immediately, there is little hope of survival. We in Emergency and Critical Care Medicine want to investigate the use of new technology called ECMO and how it could help with untimely death. ECMO (Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation) is essentially cardiac bypass in a box – portable and potentially available outside the Heart Centre in places such as the Emergency Department. Using it during CPR (ECPR) keeps a persons vital organs such as their brain supplied with blood and oxygen until we can treat the cause of their cardiac arrest. In some European countries, this technology is now available in specialized ambulances. Although extremely expensive, and with the potential to impact other services, this technology has the potential to allow many more patients to survive cardiac arrest. We wish to see if introducing ECPR is feasible in New Brunswick. The $75,000 would cover the two of the four stages needed to fully implement ECPR.


Team: Dr. James French, Dr. Tushar Pishe, Ian Watson. New Brunswick Trauma Program

We offer lots of education to health-care providers already, but we know that a really important element in saving the life of a critically injured patient is providing healthcare professionals with the chance to practice in advance of an emergency – just as pilots do in cockpit simulators. Physicians, nurses and other professionals working in emergency departments see critically injured patients infrequently. When they do, they need to be able to immediately work as a team to save a life, and to ensure rapid, safe transfer to a major trauma centre like the Saint John Regional Hospital. The Mobile Simulation initiative of the New Brunswick Trauma Program brings education by simulation to these smaller centres – bringing the equipment and the expertise to work with local teams, in their local environments, to make sure that the public gets the very best care possible, regardless of where or when a major injury occurs. $75,000 would allow us to purchase an advanced human simulator – essentially, a robotic patient who blinks, moans and breathes just like a real person.”


Team: Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial and Dr. Ansar Hassan. Department of Cardiology

Our project’s goal is to bank a cash of tissues for medical research while introducing two cutting edge medical techniques. The first we call chemical fingerprinting, where we process blood using nanotechnology to reveal each person’s unique biochemical signature. This allows us to know if drugs are working or perform enhanced diagnosis. The second is called pharmacogenomic screening, where specific gene panels let us quickly determine whether a patient is better suited for certain drugs or medical procedures. Our project will leapfrog our medical approaches about 10 years into the future, where treatments are tailored to an individual patient. Not all solutions can be imported to New Brunswick and be as effective as those created and developed at home. Therefore, we will create a unique New Brunswick reference library of medical information to improve how we treat the specific and unique features of our New Brunswick population. This $75,000 will support a full-time BioBank Analyst and cover part of the expenses for the first 500 patients investing in the New Brunswick BioBank Project. We plan to grow that investment, commercialize some of the reagents we have developed and eventually become a major medical solutions exporter.


Team: Dr. Neil Manson and Dr. Robert Stevenson. Department of Orthopedics

For our project, we will be doing a study that merges the cardiac rehabilitation program with our pre-operative spine surgery patients who have multiple cardiac risk factors. This is a great project because it is simultaneously caring for patients and validating the research. In the short-term, the patients enrolled in the study are getting superior care, and will gain direct benefits in terms of surgical benefit when it comes time for their operation. In the long-term, were validating a program that could change the way we prepare our patients for spine surgery on a larger scale, and showcasing New Brunswick as a province that does ground-breaking research that addresses issues directly within our health-care system. The $75,000 would support the entire study, including the purchase of equipment, paying staff and independent reviewers. “Our goal with this money, is to take care of our patients right now, but also prove that the program works, so we can develop a long-term, self-sustained program for all of our patients who need it.

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