Alberta Medical Association honors six Albertans for their extraordinary contributions to health care

Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA

EDMONTON, Alberta, Sept. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Friday, September 15, the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) will honor six Albertans who have dedicated their lives and their careers to improving the health care and wellness of Albertans. The evening awards presentation will take place during the AMA’s Annual General Meeting and Representative Forum (RF) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton. The AMA’s Medal of Honor and Medal for Distinguished Service represent the highest honors bestowed by the AMA. The AMA Award for Compassionate Service will also be presented.

The AMA Medal of Honor is presented to non-physicians who have made a significant personal contribution to ensuring quality health care for the people of Alberta.

Dr. Sangita (Gita) Sharma, this year’s Medal of Honor recipient, is a professor and Endowed Chair of Indigenous Health in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. Throughout her career, Dr. Sharma has developed, implemented and evaluated interventions that empower communities to improve health and wellness within their own social context. Her collaborative approach has brought together a broad range of partners and informed government policy, practice and services. Dr. Sharma completed her training in nutrition and dietetics in Wales and received a doctoral degree in nutritional epidemiology in England. In 2010 she joined the U of A, and since then has received more than 40 research grants. She is a recipient of the Global News Edmonton Woman of Vision award.

The Medal for Distinguished Service is awarded to physicians who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their community and passion for their work. Each of this year’s three recipients have made outstanding contributions to the medical profession and to the people of Alberta.

Dr. Gary A.J. Gelfand is considered a national expert in the care of patients with complex airway diseases. His expertise in building thoracic surgery services has inspired many health jurisdictions to turn to him for guidance. Dr. Gelfand joined the Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery for the Calgary Zone in 1993, becoming the only full-time thoracic surgeon working in Calgary. By 2015 he had grown the capacity of the region to include four full-time thoracic surgeons. Throughout his career he has worked to bring together multidisciplinary teams that could meet the complex needs of thoracic patients. In 2011, he helped develop and launch the Alberta Thoracic Oncology Program, which brings together lung cancer specialists in all fields to improve the patient experience.

Dr. David S. (Shaun) Gray is one of Canada’s preeminent experts in neurologic rehabilitation, and is respected for both his clinical expertise and his impassioned advocacy on behalf of patients living with devastating brain injuries. Since 2011, Dr. Gray has served as the Director of the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Zone Clinical Section Chief for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He also works at both the Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injury in Ponoka and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Under his leadership, the integration of services between acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals and longer-term centers has been strengthened, improving both continuity-of-care and patient outcomes.

Dr. Nairne Scott-Douglas, a Calgary-based nephrologist, has been instrumental in establishing Canada’s top clinical and academic nephrology group. He has spearheaded several important initiatives that improved both care and outcomes for patients living with kidney disease. He has also led the development of prevention clinics in First Nations communities and programs that address the specific needs of both early and end-stage patients. Today, he is the Senior Medical Director of the Kidney Health Strategic Clinical Network. Dr. Scott-Douglas has played a key role in establishing one of the largest research chairs at the University of Calgary and helped forge productive, multidisciplinary research alliances to better understand cardiovascular disease in high-risk renal patients.

The AMA’s Award for Compassionate Service is given to physicians who have demonstrated outstanding compassion, dedication and extraordinary contributions to volunteer or philanthropy efforts to improve the state of his or her community. There are two recipients this year.

Dr. Moosa Khalil is an anatomic pathologist and cytopathologist at the Foothills Medical Centre, who is respected for both his attention to detail and his understanding of the importance of laboratory work, ensuring his patients receive the most accurate and timely diagnosis possible. Dr. Khalil also devotes considerable time to improving laboratory health care in underprivileged parts of the world. He regularly journeys to Cameroon and Laos, where he works with locals to establish or improve diagnostic capabilities. Dr. Khalil is a clinical associate professor of pathology at the University of Calgary, where he is known for his ability to describe the complexities of pathology and his insistence that students remember there is a person behind every result.

Dr. Daniel M. Li has dedicated his career to caring and advocating for people living with severe mental illness. Since 2001, he has practiced general adult psychiatry in Edmonton, working at both Alberta Hospital Edmonton and the University of Alberta Hospital Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Li advocated diligently to halt the threatened closure of Alberta Hospital and was instrumental in developing Young Adult Mental Health Services. For the past 15 years, he has travelled annually to China with EMAS (Education, Medical Aid and Service) China East, to provide desperately needed mental health, medical and dental services, as well as teaching and training for local medical professionals. Under his leadership, the organization has grown to become the largest volunteer mental health team to travel from North America to China.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Shannon Rupnarain
Assistant Executive Director, Public Affairs
Alberta Medical Association
Cell: 780.907.9003