The past year may have shaken our convictions, but it has also shown how we can rise to the challenge when the worst comes to pass. You stepped up in Sainte-Justine’s time of need in 2020, and our gratitude goes beyond words. Thank you for being there — and staying there — for us. And for them.
Farther Apart, Closer Together
Knowing you were right there by our side this year, even with distancing protocols firmly in place, meant the world to us.
While the Foundation, like so many other charities, was going through this unprecedented period of upheaval, tens of thousands of you rallied to our cause, in a wonderful outpouring of support, generosity and love.
The momentum first started to build during our front-line donor campaign and inspired new incarnations of many of our beloved traditions, from our virtual Winter Triathlon to our special 20th “Unanniversary” event in lieu of the Sainte-Justine Ball, fronted by 20 committed families from our community. You also had a hand in getting over 40 research projects off the ground so scientists could learn more about COVID-19 and helped more than 300 other initiatives move forward to benefit thousands of families whose lives have been upended by a health issue, and for whom Sainte-Justine’s unrivalled expertise is their only hope.
Your generosity, which is inextricably intertwined with the future of our families and our teams, was especially touching this year. Your gifts, big and small, were directed to where they would have the greatest impact. You were the ones who made it possible for Sainte-Justine to be a stalwart presence in the lives of children across Quebec.
We all have a responsibility toward the youngest members of our society and their health and well-being. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing in this responsibility with us.
Together, let’s keep doing more to ensure children in Quebec, and beyond, have access to state-of-the-art medical care and research. Their future, and ours, depends on it.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Chair of the board of directors
Sainte-Justine: A Safe Haven
Joyce was one of our mightiest little fighters this past year. She was born prematurely at Sainte-Justine, after only 24 weeks and 2 days in her mother’s womb — at the height of the pandemic.
For her parents, who had already lost a daughter to a mass shooting in Angola and experienced three subsequent miscarriages, her arrival was nothing short of a miracle. But there were still plenty of obstacles strewn along their path.
Unconditional love and support — yours and that of a tireless team of healthcare professionals — helped give her the strength to survive and thrive.
Joining Forces to Make a Difference
Thank you for stepping up for Sainte-Justine and our patients, families and caregivers these past months.
As part of an unprecedented appeal for community support via our front-line donor campaign, we asked 50,000 donors to partner with us to overcome this crisis. In the final tally, 60,991 of you heeded the call.
This tremendous show of generosity inspired pediatric neurosurgeon Alexander Weil, MD, to pledge a personal donation of $100,000.
Thank you for being a bastion of strength and resolve as the storm raged on.
Advancing Research Amid the Crisis, With Your Support
You were the wind beneath the wings of Sainte-Justine’s researchers this year, allowing them to advance COVID-19-related knowledge to benefit children and adults alike. With your help, no fewer than 40 research projects on this topic were green-lit, many in collaboration with other national and international leaders.
Your being there this year changed everything for the teams at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre. You were the reason we could keep up the pace of our work at such a crucial time, with advances in maternal and pediatric health hurtling in at lightning speed. Stepping up our efforts to continue to offer the best of what research has to offer is essential. Sainte-Justine has a responsibility to make this happen. And having you by our side is why we can.
Jacques L. Michaud
Studying the potential links between COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease
Backed by the support of the nation-wide Frontline Fund, Elie Haddad, MD, PhD, head of the Immune Disorders and Cancers research axis, and his team have been investigating possible links between COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease, a serious inflammatory condition that is well known in pediatric circles. Since the outset of the pandemic, a significant spike in the number of pediatric cases presenting symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease has been observed at Sainte-Justine and elsewhere in the world.
“Donors are the reason Sainte-Justine is at the forefront of research in this field. The multidisciplinary team, working closely with SickKids in Toronto and other Canadian pediatric facilities, is focused on studying any connections there may be between Kawasaki disease and COVID-19. Together, not only will we gain a better understanding of this condition and be better equipped to treat those who have it, but we will ultimately be able to come up with new therapeutic strategies.” – Elie Haddad, MD, PhD
Exploring convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19
Thanks to major donors like Intact Financial Corporation and Power Corporation, a Canada-wide clinical trial was carried out by researchers at Sainte Justine, Héma Québec and 73 hospitals in Canada, the United States and Brazil in an effort to determine the efficacy of administering plasma from individuals who had already had COVID-19 as a treatment for others infected by the virus.
In early September, a Canadian-led international multicentre study published in the journal Nature Medicine revealed much more nuanced results compared to the analysis of the preliminary results from earlier in the year.
The full analysis did not reveal a significant overall difference in mortality or risk of intubation. However, serious complications were more frequent in patients who had received convalescent plasma. Furthermore, the researchers demonstrated that the antibody content largely modulated the clinical effect of the convalescent plasma. Patients who received plasma with a good antibody profile had a risk of mortality and intubation comparable to those in the control group. On the other hand, patients receiving plasma with an unfavourable antibody profile had a higher mortality rate.
These findings were the culmination of a close-knit collaboration between teams of experts from around the world, showing once again the leadership role played by Sainte-Justine in the field of infectious disease. Thank you for powering this expertise!
Supporting Families Hit Hardest by the Pandemic, With Your Help
Repeat hospital stays. Regular medical appointments. Time off from work. Caring for a sick child can take a major financial toll on a family. And for many, the restrictions that came with the pandemic only made matters worse, putting an even greater strain on their psychological and financial stability.
Although 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges, it also shone the spotlight on the incomparable strength and energy of our teams as they adapted and found new ways to continue to deliver the very best care to our families. Thank you for being the wind beneath their wings so they could carry on with their incredibly important work.
Helping families cope with the consequences of the pandemic
Thanks to you, Sainte-Justine’s Social Services have been able to introduce a number of special initiatives to meet urgent needs, including financial assistance for short-term housing and transportation. Some 400 families have also benefited from a food hamper service, delivering a selection of essential grocery items to parents after a child’s hospital stay. This helping hand alleviates some of the stress they are under, if only for a moment, and lets them remain focused on what’s most important: their child’s health.
Helping families acquire essential medical equipment for home care
Delivering state-of-the-art services in a pandemic also means helping parents with home care whenever possible. With your generosity, CPAP machines for children with sleep apnea have been acquired and made available for home use by financially disadvantaged or vulnerable families. In cases where parents are unable to procure a device on their own, their child’s discharge can be delayed by weeks, even months. This initiative helps ensure a faster, worry-free homecoming.
Providing an adjustment and repair service for wheelchairs and prosthetic devices
When pandemic restrictions were at their peak and services were limited, you were there for the patients of the Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre (CRME), helping ensure they had ongoing access to adjustments and repairs for their prosthetic devices, wheelchairs and other equipment. Backed by your support, the CRME’s Technical Aids Department came up with a creative solution: a tent set up in front of the centre where these services could be provided. As a result, a real need was served and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 was kept to a minimum.
The CHU Sainte-Justine: A Leader in Pediatric Medicine, Here at Home and Around the World
Mental Health: More Important Than Ever
COVID-19 has had a particularly negative effect on children’s mental health. Although on the whole they are less susceptible to the coronavirus than adults, signs of psychological distress have been plentiful in this segment of the population during the past year.
This situation highlights, more than ever before, the critical importance of investing in mental health efforts and initiatives. Thank you for helping us do just that!
Tackling eating disorders in the midst of a pandemic
Sainte-Justine deals with 40% of hospital admissions for an eating disorder, including some of the most complex cases from across the province. In response to the sharp rise in the number of cases, which has doubled since March 2020, a generous donation from Bell Let’s Talk is helping teams improve their approach and meet a maximum of needs. These efforts inevitably inspire others to follow in their footsteps with a gift of their own.
One of the ways they are working toward this goal is by setting up an intensive outpatient program that has been adjusted in line with the realities of the pandemic. This will make it easier for patients to have ongoing access to the expertise at Sainte-Justine.
Some 75% of the eating disorder patients treated at Sainte-Justine are from outside Montreal. The aim of the initiative is to make a full array of resources available on a virtual basis to continue to work with these patients at home after an eating disorder attack or a hospital stay through remote therapy, family coaching and online tools for healthcare professionals and school staff.
Providing virtual support for teens at risk for mental health problems
Adolescence can be a very turbulent time in a young person’s life, and the risk of developing a mental health condition or an addiction can be particularly high.
Inspired by the generosity of donors like RBC Royal Bank, Patricia Conrod, PhD, and her team are working on the development of new mental health promotion strategies by studying genetic, environmental and neuro-developmental influences on mental health and addiction.
During the year, Dr. Conrod’s InterVenture research project, which works directly with Greater Montreal area high schools to develop better collaboration-based prevention strategies, had to scale back many of its activities because of COVID-19.
Committed to upholding this mission despite the prevailing instability, Dr. Conrod’s team, with a major contribution from the Hewitt Foundation, focused on setting up a feasibility study to assess the effectiveness and impact of various virtual techniques used with higher-risk adolescents and to help train professionals across the entire healthcare spectrum.
Donors have been a critical source of leverage for this research project, which promises to have a compelling impact, both during and after the pandemic, on schools and professionals around the country, including remote areas such as Nunavik.
Making a difference in the first days of life
Improving the mental health and wellness of expectant mothers, their partners and the babies they are carrying is a commitment Sainte-Justine psychologist and researcher Sylvana Côté takes to heart, both in her research and through her Toi, moi, bébé program. And the generosity of donors to the Foundation is what makes this all possible.
The goal of Toi, moi, bébé is to provide support to parents at risk of mental health issues and facilitate their transition to parenthood. The program was developed in response to the striking statistic that a full 30% of mothers-to-be in Quebec experience heightened levels of depression and anxiety. This has nearly tripled since the onset of COVID-19.
Crucially, studies at Sainte-Justine and elsewhere show than the first 1,000 days of life have a decisive impact on a child’s future health.With your help, Dr. Côté’s teams have set up a combined online and telephone awareness and support program. An initial group of 500 expectant mothers and their partners will be enrolled in the program, which extends from pregnancy to three months postpartum. Depending on the study findings, the initiative may be expanded and offered to even more parents across the province, through a specially developed app and other channels.
There’s No Pause Button When It Comes To Being Sick
Even during the pandemic, many young patients have not been spared the diagnosis of a serious illness. Or the need to undergo major surgery or be admitted to intensive care. These and other situations have left families overwhelmed. With your support, Sainte-Justine’s teams have continued to provide priority care to all children and respond to urgent needs at every turn. Thank you for allowing them to continue this vital work.
Even at the toughest of times, children from across Quebec needed the state-of-the-art care that Sainte-Justine, and only Sainte-Justine, can provide.
Caroline Quach-Thanh, MD
Driving Scientific Advances Forward, Because the Status Quo Is Not an Option
Did you know that no fewer than 300 research projects unrelated to COVID-19 benefited from your support this year? Even in the midst of this public health crisis, it has been crucial to continue to build scientific knowledge and press for solutions, no matter how hard or long they may to be to find, for families who are counting on the expertise that only Sainte-Justine can provide. Thank you for making it possible for these research teams to bring hope to those who need it.
A breath of hope
In recent months, your generosity has had a considerable impact on how healthcare professionals understand asthma. A major study conducted by pediatrician, clinical epidemiologist and researcher Francine Ducharme, MD, and her team is driving home the benefits of early and ongoing intervention in treating childhood asthma and increasing the chances of eventually living an asthma-free life.
The findings of this study indicate that the level of control achieved in the first two years following diagnosis is an important determinant of remission. In other words, the way forward for young asthma sufferers like Charlie-Ann is brighter than ever before!
Kudos for our researchers
Because you are there to support their work, many researchers at Sainte-Justine can earn the credibility and recognition they need to pursue even their loftiest ambitions. The past year was one of many achievements in this regard.
- In October, Jacques L. Michaud, MD, Director of the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, won the prestigious Pediatric Academic Leadership Clinician Investigator Award 2020. Presented by the Pediatric Chairs of Canada, this honour was given to Dr. Michaud in recognition of his ongoing efforts and innovation in rare diseases, his high-level mentorship skills and his leadership in genetics.
- In December, Sylvana Côté, PhD, was presented with the Adrien Pouliot Award for scientific cooperation with France. Several of her projects have gotten off the ground because of donor funding. She was also singled out by Le Devoir as one of the 21 people in Quebec poised to make a difference in 2021.
- In March, Massimiliano Paganelli, MD, PhD, pediatric gastroenterologist/hepatologist and head of the Hepatology and Cell Therapy Laboratory at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, won the prestigious Effervescence Stars Contest for his considerable scientific achievements. The aim of this contest is to recognize three Quebec researchers who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to the life sciences industry.
- In April, Elie Haddad, MD, PhD, researcher and immunologist, became the first Canadian to be elected president of the Clinical Immunology Society (CIS). This accolade speaks volumes about Dr. Haddad’s standing among his peers and his key contributions to global advances in immune disorder research.
Together, these researchers are elevating Sainte-Justine’s profile at the national and international level and cementing its reputation as a world leader in pediatrics. Thank you for supporting their work and making all these impressive achievements possible.
Providing The Very Best Care
Thank you for empowering the innovation that changes the lives of children and families at Sainte-Justine. Every day, your generosity is making the hospital experience more comfortable for young patients and allowing healthcare professionals to excel and embody the highest standards of pediatric medicine.
A caring volunteer is only a click away!
Since June, and thanks to your much-appreciated contributions, the new BénéClic app has made it easier for families to get help from a volunteer. The first of its kind in Quebec, the app connects patients and families with a suitable volunteer, based on a number of customized criteria (general interests, language, available times, etc.). Your help for projects like these makes a hospital stay more positive and personal, something that is so important to the overall experience for everyone involved.
Kids love to mimic grown-ups. Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, young patients like 8-year-old Élianne have a new space where they can “play doctor” with their caregivers. This helps alleviate any anxiety they may have about the treatment they receive.
Located on the same floor as the surgical and trauma care unit, the space is equipped with a full range of tools that healthcare professionals can use to explain specific procedures in ways that kids understand, including a miniature MRI machine that lets them hear what the real apparatus sounds like. Plus, every child leaves with a special “doctor in training” certificate!
Grooming the Next Generation
Teaching is a fundamental part of Sainte-Justine’s mission. Helping talented young professionals in every field learn and grow is a responsibility that every team takes very seriously. And you give them the tools they need to make it happen.
During these unprecedented times, your donations have made it possible for professionals to continue honing their skills in their chosen specialty, using solutions adapted to the realities of the pandemic.
Thank you for supporting them in acquiring knowledge that is essential to moving pediatric medicine forward. Because the future of health care lies squarely in their hands.
Helping healthcare professionals fine-tune their expertise
Alexandra Ouellet is an emergency nurse at Sainte-Justine. She is one of the healthcare professionals who received a fellowship grant during the year.
Awarded by the Desjardins Group, this fellowship gave Alexandra the opportunity to train for a year at the Mother-Child Simulation Centre, where professionals of all kinds can practice medical techniques in a safe environment conducive to learning.
During this time, she also helped set up emergency simulations designed to show professionals how to improve the quality of care provided to patients in critical condition.
A front-row seat to learning, thanks to you
This marks the 23rd year in a row that the physicians of Sainte-Justine have contributed personally to academic funds associated with their chosen fields. The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation actively supports this initiative through a fund-matching grant program.
These funds provide an opportunity for new Sainte-Justine recruits to build their knowledge at leading international institutions, as well as rising stars in pediatric medicine from around the world to come hone their expertise at our patients’ bedsides.
The doctors at Sainte-Justine were once again generous and community-minded in their support for the initiative this year, contributing a total of $2.3 million in the midst of the pandemic, thus paving the way to 23 fellowship grants.
A transactional website has also been set up to facilitate this impressive commitment to giving back, thereby making it easier for contributions to continue uninterrupted despite the logistical complications of the past year. Thank you for doing your part to train the next generation of pediatric healthcare leaders.
A Planned Gift to Celebrate a Quarter Century of Love
Christian and Benoît met 25 years ago on a bus. To mark their silver anniversary, the young retirees decided to make arrangements to leave a gift in their will for the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.
For the couple, this is much more than a legal transaction — it is an investment in the future and a celebration of their love, their life and of the future. A symbol of their optimism and faith in the ability of human beings to achieve the truly extraordinary.
When it came to the kind of legacy we wanted to leave, Sainte-Justine ticked all the boxes. We both have four siblings, which means plenty of nieces and nephews to dote on, all of whom are happy and healthy. And for that, we are truly grateful. Through our gift, we want to support research, innovation and health care.
Christian and Benoît
A Turbulent Fiscal Year
The 2020–2021 fiscal year was anything but predictable. The first few months dealt a crushing blow to our revenue streams, with our fundraising events cancelled and the financial markets in a state of turmoil. So we rolled up our sleeves, along with our devoted volunteer board members, to come up with various budget scenarios that would allow us to ensure the continuity of our funding while we worked to meet the new and urgent needs arising from the pandemic.
But then your voices rose in unison in response to our heartfelt appeal, and that made all the difference. Against all odds, our donation revenue climbed to $32.8M — a welcome and game-changing surprise if there ever was one, and a beacon of hope shining bright amid these trying times.
We were proud to have our Imagine Canada accreditation renewed during the year. This speaks volumes about our ongoing commitment to integrity and transparency and our pledge to making sure the patients, families and teams in the Sainte-Justine community get the absolute most out of the donations we receive. Imagine Canada accreditation is a recognized standard of excellence that underscores our sound management and human resources practices as well as our financial stewardship.
Your confidence in us made all the difference this year. Thank you for continuing on this journey with us.
Looking Ahead to the Future
In 2021, the opportunities for innovation are greater than ever. Because you are right there by our side, game-changing initiatives are already in the works, ensuring that today’s teams are poised to shape the pediatric medicine of tomorrow.
- Your generosity is key to obtaining additional public funding. Case in point: in March, five Sainte-Justine researchers were awarded $40 million by Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund to move forward with their projects.
- And with artificial intelligence (AI) on the brink of revolutionizing the world of pediatrics, Sainte-Justine is already in a position to take advantage of these opportunities, thanks to you and your support for start-up funds and researchers in this field.
- In May, the work of three Sainte-Justine researchers was recognized by the Fonds de recherche du Québec. Eilif Benjamin Muller, PhD, and Michaël Sauthier, MD, received career awards in AI, and Philippe Jouvet, MD, PhD, was appointed to co-lead a double research chair on the development and validation of clinical decision support systems.
- Efforts to build a data warehouse, also made possible through the support of donors like you, that will make a powerful IT infrastructure available to Sainte-Justine’s teams are also underway. By centralizing massive amounts of data and getting them to “talk,” the teams at Sainte-Justine hope to help more patients survive and thrive, to get to the bottom of their condition faster and more accurately, to prevent situations from escalating into emergencies, to mitigate long-term consequences and, ultimately, to reduce the economic burden on the healthcare system.
- In the field of pediatric hematology-oncology, your donations are helping to advance strategic recruiting efforts that enable the teams of Sainte-Justine to make ongoing progress in the area of targeted therapies. The ultimate goal is to develop personalized treatments based on the genetic profile of each cancer and each patient, so that no more young lives are lost to the disease and the quality of life during and after treatment is markedly improved.
- Likewise, from an infectious disease standpoint, Sainte-Justine has been proactive in leveraging its expertise to benefit the broader population during this crisis, and this will continue beyond the pandemic. Your support is key to fuelling the ambition to be more diligent than ever in investigating infectious pathologies affecting expectant mothers and children.
In these areas of expertise and many others, Sainte-Justine is the backdrop for countless life-changing innovations. With your support for these ground-breaking research initiatives, this momentum will only continue to grow.
Your Names X Their Hopes
Your support in 2020–2021 has been a source of strength and stability in these challenging times. Together, you have made it possible for Sainte-Justine to keep doing what it does best: provide the highest-quality care with a human touch and make hope come alive every day.