Report to Community 2024

Report to Community


Dr. Sharma (middle) is with Faye Visser-Booth (left) and Elizabeth Chenell (right) of the Women Alike Breast Cancer Survivor’s Society. A donation from the Society helped Aberdeen Health Foundation to fund the project, as well as partnerships with Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie University.

“I felt so encouraged by everyone at the Foundation. They were so positive about the impact of this. I was very humbled by their trust in my vision of bringing this to life. It means there’s hope. It means one person can start with an idea and with the right partners, you can see a project come to fruition. “

– Dr. Chakshu Sharma,
General Surgeon and Aberdeen Health Foundation Board Member

New surgical technology a ‘game changer’ for breast cancer patients

Breast cancer surgeon Dr. Chakshu Sharma is providing Aberdeen Hospital patients with a new standard of care in the Northern Zone. MOLLI Breast Seed Localization technology allows surgeons to precisely locate breast cancer lesions in real-time during surgery – an incredible advantage over previous technologies.

“Prior to the use of this new technology, the patient would have to come in the morning of their surgery and have a metal wire inserted into their breast, the tip of which has a hook which is used to mark the location of the cancer,” describes Dr. Sharma. The procedure not only required much coordination between radiography and surgical departments, but because the method was not precise, surgeons would often end up taking more tissue than was necessary to remove the cancer.

“Now, with this technology, a small 3.2mm magnetic ‘seed’ is placed within or near the breast cancer, as early as one month before the surgery date. It’s a short procedure that may take as little as 30 minutes and compared to the wire technology, is much more comfortable for the patients. During surgery, I can use a wand and iPad tablet to locate the magnetic seed precisely, so I have real-time feedback where the cancer is located. If I know the cancer is only 2cm in diameter, I don’t need to be taking larger amounts of tissue. It’s a game changer in the world of breast cancer on multiple perspectives.”

Dr. Sharma led the initiative to bring the technology to Aberdeen Hospital. Trials began in the Summer of 2023 and it was introduced as standard practice soon after. Due to Dr. Sharma’s leadership, MOLLI technology is now becoming the standard of care across the province.

Can we prevent mental illness?

AGM panel discussion with Alisha Griffin, research coordinator, Nicole Stinson, TIDE project coordinator and Dr. Rudolf Uher, FORBOW Principal Investigator.

Can we prevent mental illness? That is the central question of the FORBOW project, which began in Halifax more than a decade ago but now operates a satellite location in Pictou County with funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation.

The panel discussion will dig into what we have already learned about mental illness so far and the team’s efforts to develop ways to predict and prevent the onset of serious forms of mental illness in youth.

FORBOW, which stands for Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Wellbeing, is a one of a kind study internationally. Dr. Uher has been the recipient of several awards and was recognized in the 2023 list of world’s most cited researchers.

Learn more about FORBOW’s Pictou County satellite location by visiting:

Annual General Meeting

March 21, 2024 @ 6:30 pm, Summer Street Industries

OR join us online:

In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held online only.

Creating the conditions for health

At the Aberdeen Health Foundation, our vision is bold – a Pictou County where every person has opportunity to attain their best health. We believe health is a fundamental right and everyone deserves access to the resources and supports necessary to thrive. We have a responsibility to foster an environment of inclusion and belonging, two key ingredients in empowering individuals to take control of their health journey.

While we continue to invest in technological advances and modern equipment, we also want to be an active agent and partner in creating the conditions for health in our community, which means looking at our funding through an equity lens. We’ve brought ground-breaking research programs to Pictou County, like the FORBOW mental health study and the Pictou County Personal Empowerment Program. These programs work to prevent and improve outcomes of individuals living with chronic health conditions and provide participants with ways to work around obstacles to create better accessibility for all.

I am proud to serve as Chair of this organization alongside a dedicated, forward-looking Board of Directors. Together, we are committed to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for all to live healthier, happier lives. Lisa MacDonald, Chair

2023 Board of Directors

Lisa MacDonald, Chair
Susan MacConnell, Past Chair
Heather MacDonald, Vice Chair
Kim Livingston, Treasurer
Marsha Sobey, Secretary

Kimberly Byrne
Dr. Patricia Craig
Marcel Deveau
Ashley Harrison
Clinton Keay
Stephen Leslie
Donald MacGillivray
Harry Munro
Dr. Chakshu Sharma
Ryan Sharpe
Heidi Sinclair
Frank Sobey

Something I had been meaning to do for 20 years

I did it. Inspired by the Will Power campaign and my desire to leave a gift to the Aberdeen Health Foundation, I finally took action and had my will prepared. I’ve witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact bequests can have and I wanted to express my personal belief in the Foundation’s mission. I’m so glad I did. I was avoiding it because I thought it would be complicated, but it wasn’t. The day I signed on the dotted line, a wave of empowerment washed over me. I didn’t realized my Will could give me a boost as well as my favourite charity.

I also wanted to make sure my gift would be to the organization’s core mission, without restriction because it’s the best way to ensure the Foundation has the ability to respond to changing needs into the future. A great example of this is music therapy, an evidence-based program not available when the Foundation’s medical equipment fund was established in the 1980s. Because of unrestricted gifts, the Foundation has resources to support a program like this today, both in the hospital and in the community.

I am thankful for the Will Power campaign which in a few short years has inspired millions of Canadians to think differently about giving – including me.” Michelle Ferris, Executive Director

If you’d like to join Michelle in supporting the Aberdeen Health Foundation for generations to come, you can learn more about Will Power by visiting or

Bringing PEP to Pictou County

“The program offers amazing support and continuous contact which promotes strong motivation and accountability.” – PEP Participant Peggy Thibault

The start of the year brought the exciting launch of the Pictou County PEP (Personal Empowerment Program). Led by Halifax-based research scientists and physicians, Dr. Gabriela Ilie (left) and Dr. Rob Rutledge (right), PEP is designed to improve the long-term mental and physical health of all adults, with particular focus on adults living with chronic illness. Participants receive daily emails and instructional videos covering a wide range of health promoting topics. Pictou County PEP has been funded by Aberdeen Health Foundation, and is being delivered in partnership with Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health. Visit for more.

Turning the TIDE in mental health

Nearly one year into the launch of the FORBOW mental health study in Pictou County, Research Coordinator Alisha Griffin (pictured) says the program plans to broaden focus to their TIDE research study. “TIDE, which stands for Treatment Interrupts Depression Early, is an intervention study within the FORBOW umbrella for youth experiencing their first episode of depression,” describes Griffin. “This will benefit families in Pictou County who are in need of treatment.” Participants in the TIDE study are assigned an intervention method such as an antidepressant or Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. The long-term goal of the study is to help researchers predict who will benefit most from each of these treatments. For more information and to learn how to participate in the study, contact

New equipment improves quality of care
With funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation, the Ambulatory Treatment Clinic was able to purchase a new procedure chair and microscope. The pair function together during a procedure known as a colposcopy, which allows a physician to examine a patient’s cervix and surrounding areas for signs of disease.

“This new microscope has better quality imaging and higher magnification, which allows for better diagnostics,” explains Dr. Changulanda Joshi, who specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Aberdeen Hospital. “It’s important to keep our equipment up-to-date so we can provide the highest quality of care.” Dr. Joshi (left) is pictured above with Nurse Bobbie-Lee Sample (right).

State-of-the-art anesthesia upgrades
The Aberdeen Health Foundation recently funded the purchase of new anesthesia machines as the previous machines were coming to the end of their life expectancy. “The new workstations have many advantages over the previous machines,” says Dr. Mohammad Ghafari (pictured), anesthetist at Aberdeen Hospital. “The new technology improves patient outcomes, has increased functionality, and even has environmental improvements, emitting fewer greenhouse gases than the previous equipment.”

“Upgrades like this are so important for the hospital and community to attract highly trained anesthetists to the area and to be able to provide our patients with state-of-the-art health care, right here at home.”

Local project recognized for innovation
The Virtual Care @ Your Library Pilot Project has received a 2024 Nova Scotia Health Quality Award. In order to address the inequities in accessing virtual health care, the program provided a dedicated, trained staff person at the library to assist patrons with seeing a primary care practitioner online. The team was awarded in the category ‘Disruptive Innovation Initiative’. This category honours new innovative interventions that disrupt ‘normal’ work to drive a different outcome focused on a major issue facing health care in Canada, resulting in fundamental and sustained change within an organization. The project was co-created by more than a dozen members of a diverse and comprehensive team from across Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL), Nova Scotia Health and the Aberdeen Health Foundation.

New ER equipment aids with CPR administration, in memory of local man James Pyche

The purchase of a LUCAS 3 Chest Compression System has been funded by the Aberdeen Health Foundation. The equipment will be used in the Emergency Department (ED) to deliver continuous chest compressions during CPR in order to free the hospital care team to perform other duties as needed.

The equipment is dedicated in memory of 37 year old Trenton man James Pyche, who sadly passed away last year after an accident that required the ED team to provide sustained CPR. Though the team performed as expected, the situation made them realize this equipment could be beneficial for the future.

“Typically when we administer CPR, it requires one member of the care team to be performing regular chest compressions and another poised to take over,” says ED Manager Hollie Cameron O’Laney. “With this purchase, the device will provide consistent, effective compressions, freeing staff hands and reducing the likelihood of interruptions.”

“James was known to help others and now he will continue doing that,” adds James’s mother, Rhonda Pyche. “He was everyone’s go-to guy, a big, friendly giant. And the fact that the machine is called ‘LUCAS’ when James’s brother’s name is Lucas, to us it was such a fitting way for James to be remembered.”

From left to right, Dr. Deborah Straub (ED physician), Hollie Cameron O’Laney (Health Services Manager ED), James’s brother Lucas, James’s mother Rhonda with a photo of James, Amelia MacKenzie (Clinical Practice Lead ED)

Oncology clinic redesign brings comfort to patients

A recent renovation of the oncology clinic at Aberdeen Hospital has created a new program room and waiting area for patients and their support persons.

“One of the main priorities was to create a space for patients that was more welcoming,” explains Karen Swan, manager of Cancer Care for the Northern Zone at Aberdeen Hospital. With funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation, work began to create new waiting areas, storage spaces, and areas to display patient program and support group information. The project was completed and opened for the public in spring of 2023.

The new space made a world of difference for Robyn MacLean, pictured right. Last year, Robyn was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy treatment in the clinic over a six-month period. “I was filled with trepidation on my first day of chemotherapy, not knowing what to expect,” describes Robyn. “When I opened the door, I entered a bright, beautiful space that immediately lifted my spirits. The big beautiful windows allowed so much light into the room, and the decor was so cheery and calming.”

“It is so important to have that kind of space for people when they’re in a dark place in their mind with the fear and uncertainty of a grave illness. It made me feel comfortable and that really took the edge off of my anxiety.”

Planting seeds for population health

Scotsburn Elementary School was the recipient of an UpLift student action grant. Uplift aims to create the conditions for healthy learning environments and thriving school communities by engaging youth to drive the changes they want to see. The Aberdeen Health Foundation’s funding has been used to catalyze this approach in schools across Pictou County. With the grant, students in Scotsburn strengthened their partnership with the Scotsburn Community Food Forest to develop skills to grow and harvest their own vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Pictured left to right are Scotsburn Elementary Garden Club Members Ena Anguilianuk, Chase Hicks, Cassie Sutherland, Ethan Babineau and Wyatt Thompson.

Timely gift of gratitude for cafeteria

Members of the Food and Nutrition Services team are pictured in the new cafeteria space, made possible thanks to an Aberdeen Health Foundation Gift of Gratitude donation by community member Arnold Selway. Top row left to right: Susanne Lafferty, Corey Christopher, Josh Deal, Mary Anne Redmond, April Pellerine; Bottom: Priscella Stewart, Chelsea Parker, Tasha Short.

When Arnold Selway gifted the Aberdeen Health Foundation with an unrestricted donation through the Gift of Gratitude program, he had one request: that the money be spent where it was most needed. When asked why he chose Aberdeen Hospital for his gift,
he was emphatic, “It’s just a friendly place. My friends, my family, we’ve all experienced it. There’s a sense of people working together.” The hospital cafeteria was quickly identified as the place with the ability to impact the broadest cross-section of staff, while also improving the experience for patients and their families. What was originally planned to be a three-day closure to allow time to paint and install new furniture, however, suddenly turned into a 10 month renovation when
a pipe unexpectedly burst, flooding the kitchen and causing extensive water damage.

“We had to quickly jump into action,” describes Helen Scott-Davidson, former Director of Nutrition and Food Services for the Northern Zone. “We moved our workspace into the cafeteria. The staff were adaptable – because of them, we were able to maintain ongoing food service for patients without skipping a meal.” Their quick response meant they were able to provide the hospital’s 120 inpatients with approximately 360 meals per day with no interruption, despite such a significant service impact.

The cafeteria reopened on December 15, 2023 with all new furniture and a modern look. It now provides physicians, staff, patients and families with a beautiful space to rest, gather and nourish.

2023 Funding Commitments

Capital Projects & Medical Equipment
Renal Dialysis Expansion $600,000
Diagnostic Imaging $200,000
Massimo Patient Safety Net (Surgery) $142,000
SIM Man 3G (IPPL) $142,000
Endoscopy Reprocessing System & Sink $112,000
Seed Localization (Surgery) $108,000
Gyne Hysteroscope (x7) (Surgery) $95,000
ECG (ER) $33,000
Birthing Bed (Women & Children) $28,000
Medical Equipment for Various Departments $167,500
Capital Projects & Medical Equipment Total $1,627,500
Community Health Centre & Health Equity Initiatives $202,500
Pictou County PEP Chronic Disease Management & Prevention Program $120,000
FORBOW & Other Mental Health Programs $109,000
Palliative Program $70,000
Oncology Patient Fund & Other Health Programs $50,000
Medical Professional Recruitment $50,000
Continuing Education $45,000
Grand Total $2,274,000
Note: $102,000 of the above were funded from prior year over accruals.

902-752-7600 ext. 4600

835 East River Road, New Glasgow NS B2H 3S6