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A $2.5-million donation to support dementia research at Victoria hospital

Huge donation for dementia research at Victoria hospital
An Oak Bay couple has made a huge donation to Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital that will hopefully be a giant leap for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia. Neetu Garcha reports.

Health professionals hope that a huge private donation in B.C.’s capital city will lead to a giant leap in diagnosis and treatment of dementia on Vancouver Island.

“The Interior of B.C. and the island have twice the aging population than the Lower Mainland has so this is one of our top priorities right now; it has to be,” Dr. Malcolm Ogborn, Island Health’s executive medical director said.

Coverage of dementia on Globalnews.ca:

The Neil and Susan Manning Cognitive Health Initiative was announced Thursday at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria.

It represents a $2.5-million donation to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation from Neil and Susan Manning, a philanthropist couple from Vancouver Island. The money will help to start the first-time partnership between Island Health, UBC and the University of Victoria (UVic).

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Susan was diagnosed with dementia two years ago.

“It’s a very difficult diagnosis to hear,” Neil said.

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“When they described it to us as a way in which we could get research back into patient care more rapidly than by the traditional research methodologies, that resonated with us.”

Thanks to the funding, a new research project has launched that experts say could change the way health professionals tackle dementia diagnosis and care.

“The project will aim to expand clinical trial opportunities for patients with dementia, including studies of new drugs, that are not currently available on the island,” Leah Hollins, the chair of Island Health’s board of directors said.

When it comes to pharmaceutical treatments for dementia, no new drug has been come the market since 2003, according to the health authority.

READ MORE: Moderate to heavy drinking linked to lower risk of dementia: study

The five-year project will mean specialized treatment plans for various types of dementia, developing new technology that allows doctors to access a range of symptom, outcome and care information from a single, real-time database.

It could also mean the creation of state-of-the-art digital tools for early diagnosis.

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“It is a devastating diagnosis to give and so you have to have it right and the research that’s being contemplated here turns it into a science to make sure that you have as much evidence to make it accurately,” UBC regional associate dean Bruce Wright said.

Wright said physicians with clinical appointments with UBC’s Island Medical Program will be among the first equipped with the “leading-edge” clinical tools developed through this project.