Alberta Medical Association honours Albertans for their extraordinary contributions to health care

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Friday, September 21, the Alberta Medical Association will honour Albertans who have dedicated their lives and their careers to improving the health care and wellness of Albertans. The evening awards presentation will take place during the AMA’s Annual General Meeting and Representative Forum at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary. The AMA’s Medal of Honour and Medal for Distinguished Service represent the highest honours bestowed by the AMA. The AMA Award for Compassionate Service will also be presented.

The AMA Medal of Honour is presented to non-physicians who have made a significant personal contribution to ensuring quality health care for the people of Alberta. Our recipients this year are Carol E. Cass, PhD, and the Price family.

During her 41-year career at the University of Alberta, Carol Cass produced award-winning and groundbreaking cancer research and provided vital academic leadership as the inaugural chair of the Department of Oncology in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, in addition to her clinical leadership as associate director of research and then as the first non-physician (and the first female) director of the Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton’s tertiary care cancer hospital. At the Cross Cancer Institute, she led efforts to create state-of-the-art multiuser research facilities, such as the first cell imaging facility in Alberta. As director, she expanded the institute’s clinical trials capacity and activity, providing cancer patients in Alberta with earlier access to novel treatments and improved outcomes of standard treatments. Her leadership was key to preserving the culture of the Cross Cancer Institute that underpins its reputation for excellent and compassionate care. Dr. Cass has played a leading role in Canadian cancer research and she was a trailblazer for women in the sciences.

Greg Price, a previously healthy young man, only 31 years old, died just months after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, and he died unnecessarily after multiple breaks in the health care system. Since then, the Price family – Chad, Dave, Isabelle, Joanna, Matt and Teri – has worked in his name to improve the health care system that failed him. They’re efforts extend to many health care organizations across Canada where they’ve shared Greg’s story and its implications for the health care system. They worked to facilitate production of a CBC radio documentary White Coat, Black Art, which tells the story of Greg’s life and death, and the film Falling through the Cracks: Greg’s Story, which has received multiple awards and has been used to promote medical education and health care change. The Price family’s ongoing efforts demonstrate a continued commitment to making the system work better, to better serve patients like Greg, to make his unnecessary death a catalyst for change.

The Medal for Distinguished Service is awarded to physicians who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their community and passion for their work. Each of this year’s three recipients have made outstanding contributions to the medical profession and to the people of Alberta.

Dr. Norman Kneteman, has devoted his life and his career to liver and organ transplantation. He is recognized internationally for his contributions to transplantation, including the humanized liver chimeric mouse model and the Edmonton Protocol for Islet Transplantation. He is a passionate and effective advocate for organ donation, giving talks and interviews and making media appearances to raise public awareness of the need for donation and of the lifesaving benefits of transplantation. Dr. Kneteman established the Liver Transplant Program in Edmonton, which has become the premier transplant program in the country. As its director, he has assembled a superb team that has refined and developed the Edmonton Protocol, established the living liver donor program, and provided crucial support to the Edmonton Multi-organ Transplant Program. His collaborative research with Dr. Locksley McGann, Dr. Ray Rajotte, and Dr. James Shapiro established the basis of islet isolation and cryopreservation for the Edmonton Protocol. His American Society of Transplant Surgeons accredited fellowship program has trained surgeons all over the world.

Dr. John Kortbeek has been repeatedly honoured for his work as a teacher, as a surgeon and as a clinician in the areas of trauma, surgery and critical care. His career has been dedicated to the care of patients and their families, to continuously raising the standards of care in surgery, and to teaching and training young physicians and surgeons. He has led many improvements in the organization and processes of care in Alberta, including developing and implementing trauma center standards; establishing a trauma system with adult and pediatric tertiary trauma centers in Edmonton and Calgary and five provincial regional trauma centers; and introducing trauma system accreditation standards across Canada. His influence has been felt across the country – indeed, around the world. The Advanced Trauma Life Support Program he developed is now taught in over 60 countries and has enrolled over one-million physicians since its inception in 1980. He has personally taught and lectured in over 30 countries. Dr. Kortbeek is in demand as a visiting lecturer and professor across the country.

Patients with cystic fibrosis and caregivers who support them have benefited from Dr. Harvey Rabin’s dedicated care, his passionately pursued research program, and his public advocacy. The changes he has fought for, by redefining disability to include chronic illnesses that are prolonged, severe and irreversible, have the potential to benefit many people living with a variety of illnesses across the country. He has served many organizations, with special dedication to Cystic Fibrosis Canada in a variety of leadership positions, guiding the development of medical and clinical policies; helping to shape medical protocols in Alberta, across the country and beyond; and playing a key role in developing Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s Strategic Plan to END CF. Dr. Rabin founded the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the U of C Medical Clinic, where he has brought together health care professionals dedicated to improving the lives of adults with cystic fibrosis. The clinic is also a specialized teaching resource for medical students, postgraduate medical residents, and specialist colleagues, ensuring that Dr. Rabin’s work will continue to benefit patients and their families for many years to come.

The AMA’s Award for Compassionate Service is given to physicians who have demonstrated outstanding compassion, dedication and extraordinary contributions to volunteer or philanthropy efforts to improve the state of his or her community.

Our recipient this year is Dr. Bonnie Larson. Dr. Larson works primarily with homeless Calgarians, and she works with them where they are at – on the streets, in the alleys, by the river. She provides compassion and care to people who have been underserved or completely forgotten by the larger society in which they live. With the coming of the opioid crisis, her advocacy and her care have become even more passionate and more necessary. Dr. Larson also worked with the Calgary Refugee Health Program and with Indigenous communities at the Elbow River Healing Lodge and Siksika First Nation Health Centre. She helped set up Calgary’s Allied Mobile Palliative Program, or CAMPP, which works to improve end-of-life care for the vulnerably housed. She founded StreetCCRED, short for “Street Community Capacity in Research, Education and Development.” StreetCCRED brings together community members, front-line service providers, academics, social programs, and agencies to fill in gaps in the current landscape of care for vulnerable people and populations. Her work in StreetCCRED has been tireless and completely voluntary, born of her deep compassion for the people she serves.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Shannon Rupnarain
Assistant Executive Director, Public Affairs
Alberta Medical Association
Cell: 780.907.9003