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SPOTLIGHT ON THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY VIEWS News bites collected from around the province Dr. Sultan Darvesh Delivering Seniors’ Care Seizing opportunities helps CMA create the right road map LIGHT THROUGH THE FOG A brain-map study by rheumatolo- gist Dr. John Hanly aims to under- stand brain fog and other cognitive disorders in lupus patients. A chronic autoimmune disease, lupus causes the body’s immune system to attack the body’s organs and tissues. When lupus affects the brain, it can slow the patient’s ability to process visual or auditory information. Deemed “lupus fog,” the cogni- tive impairments can include diffi- culties concentrating, multi-tasking and recalling information. To better understand the condi- tion and help develop treatments, Dr. Hanly and his team at the Biomedical Translational Imaging Centre are doing a Lupus Brain Map Study. Up to 50 lupus patients from across Nova Scotia are taking part, undergoing cognitive tests and brain-imaging scans, including functional MRIs. Functional MRIs can examine what’s called the blood-brain bar- rier, which stops certain hormones, neurotransmitters and foreign substances from entering the brain. This barrier seems to be leaky in lupus patients, which may cause the cognitive impairment. The first phase of the study will take about two years to complete. PROMISING ALZHEIMER’S DEVELOPMENT It’s estimated that 17,000 Nova Scotians have Alzheimer’s disease. Research by Dr. Sultan Darvesh and the team at the Maritime Brain Tissue Bank may soon lead to ear- lier diagnosis and treatment for the degenerative brain disease. The bank collects brains and spi- nal cords donated by people with different neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s. Using speci- mens at the brain bank, research- ers have developed a radioactive molecule that binds to a protein that is found in large amounts in Alzheimer-stricken brains. Currently, doctors struggle to diagnose the disease; a diagnosis is often only possible through autopsy results. Creating a safe diagnostic test is the team’s next step. Being able to test for Alzheimer’s disease while the patient is alive will help develop treatments for the disease. Dr. Darvesh will be presenting in July at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOURSELF or a colleague featured in Spotlight? We’re always looking for news of physician accomplishments. Email By DR. LAURENT MARCOUX President, Canadian Medical Association O ur health-care system’s challenges make head- lines every day. Wait times. Growing frustrations. Our population is aging, and older Canadians are often not getting proper care. The Canadian health-care system was created and built at a very different time. The chal- lenges we now face require us to think about how we will provide high-quality care for the future. While I could spend many more words on what doesn’t work with our health-care sys- tem, let’s change the discussion and explore the possibilities for improvement. We see new and innovative ways to deliver care every day. Take, for example, the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Care by Design program. With the support of an active and engaged group of physicians, phar- macists, nurses, paramedics and health-care profession- als, Care by Design is able to offer long-term care resi- dents access to high-quality, consistent primary health care. Results have shown a 36% reduction in transfer from long-term care to the emergency department – an ordeal that can be stress- ful for patients and their families, and can also tie up valuable resources. This is only one example, but it is a powerful demon- stration of how collaboration between governments, health providers and patients can yield significant improvements in care. At the Canadian Medical Association, we identified the need for a national seniors’ strategy three years ago. Our award-winning platform, Demand a Plan, has more than 60,000 supporters. Our recom- mendations to the federal government are being care- fully considered as it studies the feasibility of a national approach to seniors’ care. Every day, we look for opportunities and examples to showcase what is possible to achieve better care for our aging population. Let’s highlight successes like Care by Design more frequently so we can tackle what seems like an insurmountable – but ultimately very simple – task: delivering high-quality care to Canada’s seniors. March 2018 | doctorsNS 25