News & Events


Brain Health Centre funds Dr. Michael Schmidt’s research into cognitive decline (March 2019)

Dr. Michael Schmidt and his research team have received funding of almost $350,000 to support their work in developing measures that will help improve outcomes for older surgical patients.

The Toronto-based Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation recently awarded the grant of $349,947 for a two-year project titled: Computerized assessment for Post-Operative Cognitive Decline (POCD) in elderly surgical populations – a multi-centre study. The project has also received $50,000 from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.

Dr. Schmidt, a QEII Health Sciences Centre anesthesiologist, and Dalhousie University professor and researcher, focuses much of his research on reducing the risks to patients’ brains from the use of anesthesia for surgical procedures.

“It is not uncommon for families of the patient to tell me: ‘Since the surgery, grandma/grandpa is not the same’,” he said. “Families of these elderly patients undergoing general anesthesia and surgery often observe their loved ones are not getting back to the same cognitive level they were prior to their procedure.”

Because brain cells gradually die as we age, the risks of cognitive decline as a result of surgery and anesthesia rise with age. Older people simply have fewer brain cells in reserve to recover any loss, and the result can be life-altering changes to brain function.

“In some cases, the elderly can no longer go back to independent living,” Dr. Schmidt said. “This puts an incredible burden on the patient, their families, and the collective taxpayers of Nova Scotia.”
His POCD project, developed in collaboration with Dr. Gail Eskes and the Brain Repair Centre, will use a web-based tool called DalCAB to develop a data set before and after surgery to assess any changes in a patient’s cognition or brain function. The aim is to use this data to refine a process, or module, that will indicate that patient’s risk of cognitive decline. This information will help physicians make care decisions that support improved patient outcomes.

For more information about the project, please visit and look under Adult Anesthesia (NSHA) Projects.

Paper celebrates history of anesthesia technology (October 15, 2018)

Dan Cashen, the Department's former Anesthesia Department Manager (retired 2011) wrote the paper: The Introduction of Anesthesia Technology in Halifax (PDF). The document walks us through the history of anesthesia technology from its first administration in 1846, through its growing role during periods of conflict, to the evolution of anesthesia technicians; a now invaluable addition to the Department.

The paper is a timely commemorative as anesthesia technology celebrated 50 years in 2017.

Dr. Dolores McKeen and the ERAS program featured on CTV News (March 28, 2018)

Dr. Dolores McKeen and the new Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol was featured on CTV News last week (March 28).

In February, the IWK Health Centre became the first health centre in the Maritimes to implement ERAS.

The program is currently focused on in-patient uro-gynaecology and gynaecology surgeries and is designed to help patients prepare for surgery, promote faster recovery and shorten hospital stays. Hospitals that use ERAS have significantly fewer complications and better patient outcomes and experiences.  

Dr. McKeen is an anesthesiologist with the Dalhousie Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine, Associate Director of Research with the IWK Health Centre and a full professor at Dalhousie University.

Learn more about ERAS

Dr. Blaine Kent receives the R. Wayne Putnam Award (March 2018)

Congratulations to Dr. Blaine Kent for receiving this year’s R. Wayne Putnam Award for his outstanding contributions to community CME.  Dr. Kent is an anesthesiologist with the Dalhousie Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine, the QEII Halifax Infirmary Site Chief and the Director of the Perioperative Blood Management Services at the QEII.

In Dr. Kent’s nomination, he was singled out for his outstanding contribution to Continuing Professional Development across the Maritime provinces through his leadership of the Blood & Beyond Conference. Dr. Kent Chairs the Planning Committee and provides leadership and direction to the conference each year. Recognizing the need for more continuing medical education in this subject area, he championed the cause of creating and sustaining such a conference, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.  The Blood & Beyond Conference has provided Atlantic physicians with a world-class meeting where they can hear about the most recent research and best practices on a variety of blood management and perioperative medicine topics.

Dr. Kent was nominated by Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine Head, Dr. Romesh Shukla. The R. Wayne Putnam Award recognizes and rewards those who consistently contribute in an exceptional way to the continuing education of physicians at the community level.

Dr. Richard Hall, CAS 2018 Gold Medal recipient (March 15, 2018)

Congratulations to Dr. Richard Hall who is a 2018 Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS) Gold Medal winner. CAS announced its 2018 award recipients earlier this week. The Gold Medal is the highest award given by CAS. It is a personal award consisting of an inscribed medal given in recognition of excellence and leadership in anesthesia.  

Dr. Hall will be honoured for the award at the CAS Annual Meeting in Montreal, June 16-18.

The Department’s Applause Committee, tasked with celebrating and recognizing the Department’s culture of excellence, nominated Dr. Hall for this award.

Dr. Richard Hall trained as a pharmacist at Dalhousie University followed by a transition into medicine, anesthesiology and critical care. Since that time, he has contributed to the advancement of anesthesiology, to its scientific body of knowledge and to the cultivation of a new generation of anesthesiologists, while simultaneously maintaining a demanding full-time clinical practice.

His accomplishments range from publishing over 80 peer-reviewed articles and numerous book chapters to conducting over 70 multicentre clinical trials, speaking at a wide variety of national and international conferences and being awarded 54 research contracts from industry. Dr. Hall initiated and chaired the Perioperative Anesthesia Clinical Trials (PACT) Committee.  As the chair, he led the creation of a well-functioning mechanism for conducting perioperative clinical trials in Canada.

He is a recipient of the prestigious Doctors Nova Scotia Distinguished Service Award as well as a founding member of the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group.

Recently retired, Dr. Hall was a Professor of Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine, Pharmacology and Critical Care Medicine and an Associate Professor of Surgery at Dalhousie University.