U of C joins Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute

By Samuel Liaw

One of Alberta’s community philanthropists, Bud McCaig, has donated $10 million for the new Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute. The University of Calgary will be leading the institute, which started the initiative two years ago.

The first Alberta Bone and Joint Centre of Excellence will be located on the U of C campus. The ABJ Institute will serve as an alliance between health regions, Alberta Health and Wellness, Alberta Medical Association and Alberta universities.

"By working together, we can and will create a world-class health and medical system that will outlive all of us as a legacy and an example of what we can do when we refuse to settle for anything less than the best," said Ann McCaig, Bud McCaig’s wife, at the Fri., Mar. 26 announcement. "The institute is a better way to treat bone and joint arthritis problems."

Bone-and-joint related pain has put a huge burden on Alberta’s health care system. Approximately 25 per cent of health care expenses go towards bone and joint illness, such as arthritis or hip replacement surgery.

"The Alberta Bone and Joint Institute is a very positive and ground-breaking project for health care in Alberta," said Premier Ralph Klein. "It offers a better delivery system of secondary care along with a greater emphasis on wellness."

The first Alberta Bone and Joint Centre will be located at Foothills Hospital. Construction will begin in 2006 and will be completed by 2008.

"This will be a site for clinical research and educational work for bone and joint health," said U of C researcher Dr. Cy Franks, who is also a member of the steering committee. "In the future, there will be other centres in the province, such as in Edmonton."

The Alberta government has allocated $125 million for the institute and centre, however, the institute hopes to raise an additional $50 million.

"In Calgary, we have a long support for the institute and hopefully it will become the flagship of our university to attract students all over the world for bone and joint health clinical research and educational training," said Dr. Franks. "There will also be strategic educational endowments to attract leading researchers in bone and joint disorders."

Short-term goals for the institute include developing a bone and joint hotline in Alberta, implementing new bone and joint technology and launching a revised hip and knee surgery recovery and care pathway for patients.

"The waiting lines for hip and knee surgeries will be reduced from six months to three weeks," said Dr. Franks. "This will be a dramatic improvement for health care in Alberta.

"In five years, we will have an international leadership position in bone and joint health as an example for the world."

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