Calgary Health Foundation

$1.7 million to double COVID-19 testing and expedite results

Testing is a critical element of the province’s long-term strategy as we remain diligent in identifying those who are infected and quickly reduce the spread of the virus. But we also know, testing is important in informing our public health officials and decisions about our future.

Calgary Health Foundation’s $1.7 million commitment to increase testing in the province is part of a partnership with Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta to invest $4.5 million in equipment that will more than double capacity.

The new equipment will bring testing from a maximum of 7,000 to 16,000 tests per day by the end of June. It will also expedite results.

“Increasing capacity for testing is important to Calgary Health Foundation, because it allows us to flatten the curve, and ensure our health system has the capacity to manage this crisis. 

Good data leads to better decisions – decisions about how we approach Albertans getting back to work, how we support our local businesses, how we protect our healthcare and frontline providers, and ultimately, how we return to a state of normalcy".

Calgary Health Foundation President and CEO, Michael Meldrum.

Calgary Health Foundation has been serving our province, and in particular the Calgary community for almost 25 years, working with many donors who’ve made investments in the health system that have supported the infrastructure we have today. Without the community’s generosity, and the partnership our organization has with Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta we would not have the strong and agile system that we’ve needed to respond to this pandemic.

As we find ourselves in a global health crisis, Calgary Health Foundation's role in providing critical funding is more important than ever.

“If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” summarizes Meldrum.

 

During these critical and unprecedented times, Calgary Health Foundation is working alongside our partners at Alberta Health Services (AHS) to ensure we are making a significant impact in the local COVID-19 response. We want to ensure our healthcare system not only continues to meet, but exceed the demand of testing required during this pandemic.

While Alberta already boasts one of the highest testing rates in the world, thanks to the tenacious efforts of healthcare and lab services professionals, continued testing is imperative to diagnose and treat individuals at greatest risk, understand how the virus is spreading, and assess the effectiveness of public health measures.

“Our ability to maintain COVID-19 testing capacity at the highest levels in Canada is critical to Alberta's Relaunch Strategy. I want to thank Calgary Health Foundation and its donors for their generous contribution at this challenging time. Through continued support and ongoing vigilance, together we will slow the spread of the virus and reopen Alberta.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

The $4.5 million in combined funding will purchase new laboratory equipment to be used across the province to perform two kinds of COVID-19 testing. These two types of tests detect the virus by amplifying its genetic code. The first testing method is called polymerase-chain reaction or PCR testing. Currently, all of our testing in Alberta is PCR testing. The second – and new - testing method is called Loop-mediated isothermal amplification or LAMP.

Collaboration is key, and this strong partnership ensures that the best healthcare is available to Calgarians, at all times.

“We celebrate the efforts of Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) and the commitment of donors, knowing our fight is far from over. We will continue to be successful through collaboration with government and philanthropic partners like Calgary Health Foundation. We are stronger together."

Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS president and CEO

“We are grateful to our donors who have supported our Clean Hands, Giving Hearts campaign so far, as the best response to COVID-19 will only be possible with the coordination and cooperation of both government support and philanthropy”, says Meldrum.  

“We feel Calgarians should have access to the best healthcare available, and we believe that is only possible as we work daily, shoulder-to-shoulder with AHS”.

The investment will benefit Albertans well into the future, by having a lasting impact on the capacity of lab services locally and provincially. This technology will continue to be used to test other viral strains, such as the seasonal flu moving forward. 

We were able to make this commitment to support COVID-19 testing in Alberta thanks to the continued support we receive from the community to our Clean Hands, Giving Hearts COVID-19 Response fund.

Thank you for helping us to collectively respond to this pandemic, and continue to invest in many other healthcare needs!!

 

Check out our first installment of “Healthcare in Today’s Reality: The Response to COVID-19 in Calgary”.  To learn more about the COVID-19 response in our community, tune in to hear Dr. Sid Viner (Calgary Zone Medical Director), and Dr. John Gill (Infectious Disease Specialist) discuss how Calgary is responding to higher cases compared to the rest of the province, increased local efforts, and what’s next for the Calgary Zone.