The pandemic brought many new challenges to hospitals. As the busiest COVID-19 hospital in British Columbia, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) was particularly challenged. Not only did SMH’s medical teams have enormous experience, they were also very successful and had among the best COVID-19 survival outcomes in the world. With their success, they recognized that they had a critical role and responsibility to conduct research and find solutions. The challenge for SMH was building research infrastructure fast enough to be an active participant in the rapidly paced research environment that marked the pandemic.

Donors were a big part of the solution. The Foundation, using donor dollars, challenged Michael Smith Health Research BC, a preeminent funder of high quality medical research, to invest in the creation of the SMH Clinical Research Unit.

Fortunately, Michael Smith Health Research BC accepted the challenge. Each partner invested 50% of the start up funds necessary to create Fraser Health’s very first clinical research unit. Fraser Health is BC’s largest health authority, responsible for 2.3 million people. The presence of this Unit enables SMH scientists to actively participate and benefit from national and international research on COVID-19 and pandemics.

Prior to the Foundation’s investment, the research teams at SMH and Long Term Care for Fraser Health had only one team member each. Today, the unit consists of 17 researchers, including student research assistants and coordinators.

The team’s early research includes studies on the impact on Long Term Care after COVID-19, as well as patient-oriented research with input from patients, families and nurses. In its first six months of operation, 69 studies were approved or were underway and its researchers were authors or co-authors on 39 studies.

In creating the SMH Clinical Research Unit, donors have leveraged research and discovery on an unprecedented scale.

SMH has come into its own as a large academic centre with one of the largest hospital volumes in BC. With this strong foundation laid, Surrey’s medical teams can now work smarter with research findings in hand while SMH is continuing to attract world-class staff, setting the stage for becoming a centre of excellence.

The generosity and commitment of Surrey Hospitals Foundation’s donors allowed for this essential research unit infrastructure to be formed in a fast and timely manner.

Please consider joining our monthly donor club, or talking with one of our team members about other planned gifts such as donating stocks, leaving a gift in your will, or having your business join the Community Champions program.