The circumstances confronting the Foundation as a result of the pandemic are unprecedented. The fact that we have had to cancel many of our fundraising events and are, like many others, affected by the resulting financial market turmoil significantly hinders our ability to support the important work done at Sainte-Justine. We need to take immediate action to help Sainte-Justine’s teams respond to this crisis while continuing to provide priority care to children from across the province. And with you, we can make it happen.

We know that many of our donors have been hard hit by the economic fallout. But the circumstances are such that we must launch an unprecedented appeal for donations from all those who are in position to contribute. This emergency fund is vital to providing the flexibility required to meet Sainte-Justine’s most urgent needs as they arise.

Maud Cohen

President and chief executive director
CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation

The shortfall in funds not earmarked for specific purposes, most of which are generated by our fundraising events, seriously compromises the financial leeway we have to support the hospital’s priority and urgent needs at a critical juncture in our history, as we are grappling with the effects of this major disaster. 

Fighting COVID-19 is like “building an airplane in mid-flight.”

- Dr. Caroline Quach, pediatric microbiologist/infectologist and epidemiologist, CHU Sainte-Justine

Globally, the way most people live makes us more vulnerable than ever to the emergence of new infections and exposes us to hitherto unknown diseases such as SARS, bird flu and, of course, COVID-19. 

As a recognized authority in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, Sainte-Justine has become a leader in infectology- and immunology-related research. 

In response to the threat associated with COVID-19, our research teams are working alongside their peers at the national and international level, specifically by lending their efforts to a major project that aims to help cure victims of all ages. 

As part of a widespread clinical trial and under the leadership of Sainte-Justine, in collaboration with Hema-Québec and 12 Quebec hospitals, including the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal and the Jewish General Hospital, convalescent plasma will be collected and used to treat pediatric and adult patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.

Other research teams are also hard at work looking for answers to key questions. Why does COVID-19 affect children less severely, and how can this answer help stop the spread of the disease to higher-risk populations? How can we predict the evolution of a pandemic? What can we learn by surveying emergency healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle?

Keeping research efforts on track: A priority for Sainte-Justine. 

The Foundation is currently in a weak position and unable to provide the usual level of support to Sainte-Justine, be it the hospital or the affiliated research centre. Moreover, with the cancellation of the CIHR’s Spring 2020 Project Grant competition, the research centre is currently in a difficult situation in many regards.

The operationalization of a number of scientific platforms is in jeopardy. These platforms are the heart of the research centre’s activities, offering the scientific community, both in-house and beyond, access to a specialized and cost-intensive infrastructure that would be impossible for any one laboratory to manage on its own. These facilities are instrumental to expediting research projects, providing personalized support and developing new methods and approaches.
They must be run by highly trained and qualified specialists – all of whom who are in high demand and difficult to recruit. The risk of losing these team members if the research centre is not adequately funded is high. Key research platforms will be forced to scale back their operations. 

Every day they are inactive will exacerbate the delay and ultimately put the centre behind in a highly competitive and constantly changing field. Years of preliminary research is on the line, as are multiple national and international joint projects, which could suffer major setbacks, both in the short and longer term.

Maud Cohen

We must take it upon ourselves to make sure that the life-changing research done here is upheld. The leadership position that Sainte-Justine’s experts have carved out would not have been possible without years of support by the donors who believe in them. The very future of our society would be threatened if these invaluable resources were to be lost, especially given the vital role Sainte-Justine and the research centre play in the Quebec community.

Helping parents of sick children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sainte-Justine’s province-wide mission means that it serves families from across Quebec. Supporting families in dire straits is not something that is automatically associated with the Foundation. But it is worth pointing out that, for many years, we have been providing substantial contributions to the family support fund set up by a corporate donor (Metro).
As things currently stand, families who were already dealing with the challenges of a sick and/or hospitalized child are now even more vulnerable. The current funds allocated to the Social Services Department are unlikely to be sufficient to meet their urgent financial and psychosocial needs. 

Ronald McDonald House has cut back on the services it offers and may even close down due to COVID-19. Parents will therefore have to explore alternative, and invariably costly, housing solutions. The Social Services Department has approached the Foundation about emergency aid, but we simply do not have the additional resources at this time to provide it.

Maud Cohen

They are our heroes in these dark days. 

We need to acknowledge their contributions and gather together in a massive show of support for the teams who are risking their lives to save ours. As the province’s designated centre for the testing and hospitalization of young COVID-19 patients, Sainte-Justine and our teams are at the heart of this public health crisis and assuming the increased responsibility and pressure this entails. 

In the middle of it all, our teams must also continue to handle complex cases in addition to protecting the patients they serve and keeping themselves healthy and safe. The Foundation must be able to back initiatives outside the realm of government support in order to optimize the working conditions in these units during this critical period, as various needs emerge. Helping these front-line professionals is essential in gaining the upper hand in this pandemic.

Édouard had his first seizure when he was 3 years old. To date, all attempts to understand the source of his condition and control his symptoms have failed. Today, now 8, Édouard still has seizures every single night. 

Epilepsy has changed his life. His family’s, too. But they still have hope. But that’s only because of research. The slowdown in research activities is already having a dramatic impact on families like Édouard’s, who has been waiting for years for a real solution to their son’s health problems – and a way forward to a better life. 

There’s no pause button when it comes to being sick.

At this very moment, a family is being told their child has cancer. An infant is coming into the world far too soon. A young accident victim is being rushed to Sainte-Justine by ambulance. 

Sainte-Justine continues to deliver on its provincial mission and provide essential consulting services to regional hospitals about COVID-19 and other urgent medical situations. The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation needs to continue to provide vital support for these efforts. And for that, we need our donors. The same donors who have made this Quebec institution a leader in the field.