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I took the ice-bucket challenge for Bernice

Like many throughout Canada and the U.S., I took the ice bucket challenge today. As we all know, this is for a great cause; people around the world are supporting research efforts directed at finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also know as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

There is, as well, a very personal reason for my taking this challenge. My mother-in-law, Bernice Mackay, is currently suffering from ALS. It is a very difficult time for Bernice, as well as for my father-in-law, Bob, my wife, Cheryl, and her sisters, Susan and Janice.

Is it ethical to use an experimental treatment for patients with the Ebola virus?

Is it ethical to use an experimental treatment for patients with the Ebola virus?

In the wake of one of the most feared epidemics in recent memory, a controversy has been brewing as to whether the administration of untested antivirals is ethical. My vote is an unwavering yes!

How breaking old rules improved patient care at KGH

In 2010, KGH made a bold move: the hospital eliminated visiting hours, allowing patients’ loved ones to be at their bedsides at any hour of the day. Though this trend had taken off in the United States, few hospitals in Canada had taken the leap.

Since then, 20 other Canadian hospitals and healthcare facilities have followed suit, and many other institutions easing restrictions on visiting hours.

The Electronics of Staying Fit

My friends Ron and Edda Laxer were visiting in Kingston this weekend. Ron and Edda are both very fit, and Ron is increasingly finding ways to stay in shape. He introduced me to a product called ‘Fitbit’, which is a small device worn on your wrist to track your activity: your steps, your calories burned and much more. It communicates through Bluetooth with any smart-like device; an iPhone, an iPad or equivalent.

On Vacation

After a long few months, I am on vacation! I am leaving the dean’s office in the capable hands of my Executive Vice Dean, Iain Young, and I’m taking off. Our plans are to chill out and relax in Kingston for a week. Then Cheryl, I and our youngest son Gabe are off to London, England. We are going to attend Gabe’s graduation ceremony from his Master’s degree in political science at the University of Essex. He is planning on attending Queen Mary University of London law school next year, so Cheryl and I will be assisting him in finding a place to live in London.

Physician Assisted Dying

In June the Canadian Medical Association released its preliminary findings on the issue of physician assisted dying.1 The report calls for “creation of a national palliative-care strategy to ensure people across the country have access to a high-quality, dignified end-of-life experience.”2 Recently the Province of Québec passed Bill 52 that affords Québec citizens the right to “die with dignity”. The bill passed in the Québec assembly in June by a vote of 94 to 22.3

You are your bugs

The last few years has seen an explosion of interest in the bugs that live in or on our bodies. It is amazing that the average person has more than a trillion bugs as part of him or her. While medical science has long understood the existence of these bugs, and the symbiosis between man and microbe, it is only recently that the full ramification of this association is being discovered. In a recent article in The Economist, it was said that “a growing band of biologists, … see people not just as individuals, but also as ecosystems”.1

An important talk in Ottawa about mental health

Barbara Crook (Artsci’79) answers questions following her presentation at the second annual Bell Lecture on Mental Health and Anti-Stigma on June 10. Ms. Crook was joined on stage by Queen’s professor Heather Stuart, the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair, and Steve Madley, radio host and master of ceremonies for the talk.

Mixed Gears: Writing and Art by Medicine and Literature Students

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Sadiqa Khan, M.D. Sadiqa is a graduate of the Queen’s M.D. program, an award-winning writer, and a certified Art Therapist. She is an instructor in a student interest group course called Medicine and Literature. The course, originally conceived by Dr. Jacqui Duffin, is now co-taught by Sadiqa and Dr. Shayna Watson.

Academic freedom collides with university administration: A sad week for University of Saskatchewan

It has been quite the week for the University of Saskatchewan. It’s hard to imagine, a dean gets fired and his tenure stripped. Tenure was then re-instated. A provost resigns. The board of trustees fires the president. Such are the makings of a television mini-series. Tragic, but true.

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