Strategic Priorities

Innovating Together

Select one of the Strategic Priorities below to learn more.


Strategic Goal: We will mobilize everyone at St. Joseph’s as part of a collaborative force for continual innovation, research and learning, driven by patient-centred needs. There will be an embedded expectation that improving what we know about our work and its effectiveness is part of everyone’s job in a thriving environment for innovation.

What We Heard from Stakeholders

There were strong themes of innovation, education/learning and research that arose in multiple engagement sessions from many different participants.

We heard from participants that everyone who works at St. Joseph’s should play a role in continuous innovation, knowledge development and learning. As a result, they see innovation and improvement in everyone’s job description. In keeping with that, they would like everyone at St. Joseph’s to embed the question, “How could this be done better?” in their work, and all innovation work to include the question, “Is this informed by the patient experience and what patients, residents and family caregivers value?” To nurture this, participants would welcome an internal hub for innovation, research and learning that would provide access to skills and resources needed to generate research questions, build practice-based programs, and strengthen the capacity for innovation and adoption of new knowledge and leading practices.

Continuing with the theme of education/learning, participants encouraged St. Joseph’s to strengthen partnerships with academic institutions, industry and disruptors to ensure and evaluate care that best supports patients for quality of health and life, and deepen the role that we have across the region to become a key knowledge developer, disseminator and capacity builder. As part of this work, participants advised St. Joseph’s to grow our capacity to teach unique models of interprofessional, whole person, connected care to prepare the health care providers of the future. In addition, they advocated for the co-creation of useful, accessible knowledge and information resources for patients, residents, family caregivers and community partners.

With respect to research, participants saw a role for patients, residents and family caregivers in this area whereby every patient at St. Joseph’s, through Lawson Health Research Institute, could be invited to contribute their data for research, continuous improvement and knowledge development, and there could be more opportunities for patients, residents and family caregivers to engage in research.

We also heard about the importance of partnering with donors to enhance both research and innovation.

What we will
accomplish By 2021
  • Our patients, residents and family caregivers and community members will be active partners in research and quality improvement efforts.
  • We will redesign and enhance the existing infrastructure to foster research and innovation that provides access to skills and resources needed to generate research/innovation questions, and build practice-based research and innovation programs.
  • We will build on our research and further develop and teach boundary-pushing models of specialized ambulatory care and complex recovery and rehabilitation.

rTMS helps with depression that is difficult to treat

An electromagnetic coil is helping to lift the veil of depression and ease anxiety for some patients at Parkwood Institute. This brain stimulation therapy, known as rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation), uses a magnet to target and stimulate the area of the brain that regulates mood.

rTMS, believed to work by facilitating connections in the brain through repeated stimulations, is a non-invasive therapy treatment that is applied daily for 20 to 40 minutes, for 20 to 30 sessions spanning four to six weeks. During treatment, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the head next to the region related to mood regulation in the frontal part of the brain. An electric current is run through the coil creating a series of brief but powerful magnetic pulses. Electricity, however, does not pass from the coil to the patient. During treatment, patients wear earphones to minimize the loud, clicking noise of the magnetic pulses.

rTMS had initially been available to individuals of Parkwood Institute’s specialized mental health care program who met the treatment criteria, but staff and physicians soon identified another patient population that would also benefit immensely from the brain stimulation therapy: those receiving care for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at Parkwood Institute’s Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic.

Thirty-five years ago, Tracy Harvey was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. She tried numerous drug treatments with no success. “I had lost interest in doing anything and everything,” says Tracy. “I couldn’t read or concentrate – life just wasn’t much fun.”

In December 2016, Tracy began her first round of 30 rTMS treatments.

“It turned my life around. I went from spending 15 hours a day in bed and still feeling exhausted, to getting eight hours of quality sleep. I suddenly realized I didn’t have any bothersome thoughts keeping me awake and I knew the rTMS treatment was really working. The treatment has made a huge difference – not only in my life, but in the lives of my husband, children and grandchildren.”

rTMS is usually recommended for patients after medication and psychotherapy fail to work. Patients are typically 18 years of age or older and have a psychiatric illness deemed appropriate for rTMS treatment. Patients must not have any exclusion factors such as a history of epilepsy or seizure disorders, aneurysm clips or coils, or other metallic material that can be displaced or heat up when the magnetic field is applied.

Chris Richard’s depression and PTSD resulted from the horrors of ethnic cleansing he witnessed while serving with the Canadian Armed Forces in Bosnia in the 1990s. He spent many years drinking heavily and isolating himself socially before he was introduced to the OSI Clinic at Parkwood Institute.

“Before, my emotions were like a tap rusted shut…the rTMS treatments acted as a lubricant to get those emotions flowing. Now I can laugh and cry again.” –Chris Richards

Knowing Chris was an excellent candidate for rTMS due to the treatment-resistant depression he suffered from, Dr. Don Richardson, Physician Clinical Lead at the OSI Clinic, referred Chris to the rTMS clinic.

“Depression was part of my life for 25 years, but after 19 rTMS treatments, I started smiling again and looking forward to my future. I no longer have nightmares or flashbacks,” says Chris.

rTMS does not produce permanent improvement. It is relatively common for patients to have a recurrence of symptoms after several months. In these cases, patients return for “booster sessions” to treat the recurrence.

In the summer of 2017, Tracy returned for another round of rTMS treatments. Recognizing right away when depression began creeping back into her life, she was able to catch it much earlier and only needed five treatments.

“rTMS has given me back my life,” she says. “Before rTMS, I was just putting in time. Now there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything I want to do and see.”

Nurse stays near to laying patient
RPN Joanne Eedy, prepares to begin an rTMS treatment session with Tracy Harvey.

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