March 5, 2021
A partnership with six of Alberta’s health foundations helped establish a biorepository for human COVID-19 samples in the province. The biorepository allows for the long-term preservation of positive COVID-19 samples, giving Alberta’s medical-scientific researchers local access to the biological material they need to further study the virus.
Story by Amelia Schofield
As we mark the anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 in Alberta, we reflect on the many ways it has changed our lives. However, despite the many changes we’ve faced, the generosity of Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) philanthropic partners and their donors continues to endure.
Whether funding new mental health programs, helping to establish a biorepository, or providing technology to help patients connect with loved ones, community support has proven vital throughout the pandemic.
One of the mental health programs made possible with foundation support is the Child, Youth and Family Caregiver Education Series, led by AHS staff in the Edmonton Zone. In partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, this AHS program provides free online mental health supports for parents and caregivers of children and youth. It aims to reduce the stigma of mental health challenges that children and adolescents experience, provide parents and caregivers with evidence-based mental health information and offer strategies to support mental wellness.
"Many young people's emotional and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic, while families struggle to balance work and child-care," says Deborah McKinnon, President and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation. "We wanted to empower caregivers by providing them access to evidence-based mental health information and strategies to support mental wellness at home."
"The Mental Health Foundation is proud to collaborate with Alberta Health Services to offer free online programming for parents and caregivers of children and youth."
AHS and foundations also partnered to establish a biorepository for human COVID-19 samples. Supported by the Calgary Health Foundation, University Hospital Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, the biorepository allows for the long-term preservation of positive COVID-19 samples, giving medical-scientific researchers access to the biological material they need to further study the virus.
“Calgary Health Foundation and our donors recognize that targeted research is needed to enhance our understanding of this highly contagious virus and to accelerate the discovery of effective diagnostics, treatments and prevention for current and future outbreaks,” says Mike Meldrum, President and CEO of Calgary Health Foundation, the lead sponsor of the project.
“The partnership between philanthropy and healthcare means that we can do more, faster, and support the innovation that continues to be needed especially during these critical times.”
In addition, AHS’ philanthropic partners supported initiatives such as the Foundations of Gratitude campaign, which encouraged Albertans to place hearts in their windows to show appreciation for frontline workers.
“We are fortunate to partner with such committed organizations, and we are grateful for everything they do to help our patients and frontline workers,” says Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS President and CEO.