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Partnering to improve health outcomes at patient and population levels across the Maritimes

Posted by Jennifer Lewandowski on October 15, 2020 in News
Photo: MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Photo: MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance


The Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine has partnered with the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance (MIPP) in a move to facilitate the Faculty’s strategic vision for improving health in the Maritimes.

In addition to pursuing scientific excellence and teaching humanity in medicine, the medical school facilitates leading health research and influences social and health policy. Likewise, the MacEachen Institute looks at progressive ways to tackle public policy and governance issues through open discussion and aims to serve as the “go to” place provincially, regionally and nationally for robust public policy discussion and research, making these two respected institutions a great match.

“I am delighted with the partnership between Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine and the MacEachen Institute,” says Dr. David Anderson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University. “It will help us continue to be leaders in system change and improve health outcomes at patient and population levels across the Maritimes.”

DalMedForward, the medical school's five-year strategic plan, is a framework for prioritizing the medical school’s initiatives. Of the four key strategic areas (Research, Education, Serving and Engaging Society and Organizational, Operational and Fiscal Renewal), Serving and Engaging Society includes meeting the health care needs of the Maritime community.

The key to the success of the Serving and Engaging Society pillar is to place the medical school as a valuable agent of socially responsible change for Maritime health systems. This speaks to the Faculty of Medicine’s societal role and the importance of giving back to the community it serves. 

Partnerships make good engines for narrative, so it makes sense, then, that the first collaboration between the Faculty and the Institute was a live-streamed panel discussion on COVID-19 held on October 1st featuring the four Chief Medical Officers of the Atlantic Bubble; Drs. Janice Fitzgerald (Newfoundland), Heather Morrison (Prince Edward Island), Jennifer Russell (New Brunswick) and Robert Strang (Nova Scotia) and moderated by Dr. Anderson – all of whom, with the exception of Dr. Strang, are Dalhousie Medical School alumni. The event was open to the public and featured an opportunity for the community to ask questions directly to the Maritime’s foremost experts in public health.

“We need to consider how the past six months have brought issues into focus and brought attention to changes that can be made in the healthcare system,” says Kevin Quigley, Scholarly Director of the MacEachen Institute. “Now more than ever is the time for community input and engagement. Increased demand for health services needs to be addressed with an effective response that meets public expectations.”


The forum provided an opportunity for an important discussion between health leaders in Atlantic Canada on their respective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and an opportunity to explore how the Atlantic provinces worked together and with their provincial, territorial, and federal counterparts. Each doctor emphasized the importance of earning the public trust and acceptance of public health and emergency measures since the March shutdowns. As well, the senior health officials discussed the inherent need to reorganize the health-care system to accommodate our new normal, which has led to backlogs in testing, treatment and procedures and the deployment of government resources and personnel to manage the COVID-19 crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the challenges and importance of developing effective public policy in the health domain,” says Quigley. “The partnership between Dalhousie Medical School and the MacEachen Institute will help decision makers in governments and health authorities identify system and health outcomes for targeted improvement.”