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Savvas Chamberlain Family Foundation News

October 25, 2023   by Dayna Giorgio - St. Mary's General Hospital, Kitchener, ON
Transformational gift brings specialized eye care to Waterloo Region
Savvas Chamberlain gift to St. Marys Hospital
CaptionLeft to right: Dr. Carl Shen, Maria Harper,
Christine Chamberlain, Dr. Savvas Chamberlain,
Dr. Chryssa McAlister 

St. Mary’s General Hospital has launched a new retinal surgical program that will offer highly advanced vision services to Waterloo Region for the first time, thanks to a $1.5 million transformational gift from The Savvas Chamberlain Family Foundation.

Bringing this highly specialized service to our community eliminates the need for patients to travel to London, Hamilton or Toronto when they experience a retinal or eye care emergency.

“As home to the Regional Eye Program, the absence of a retinal surgical program was a long-recognized gap in eye care in our community,” says Dr. Chryssa McAlister, co-lead for St. Mary’s Regional Eye Program. “Time is of the essence to mitigate potential vision loss in patients with retinal detachments and other urgent vision-threatening conditions. Having to refer patients out of town often meant delays in treatment and extra time spent travelling both for surgery and post-surgical care. Bringing retinal surgery to our community allows us to restore vision and prevent vision loss in patients with retinal diseases,” she adds. "We are delighted to finally be able to offer this essential care close to home," says Dr. McAlister.

Funding has supported St. Mary’s to purchase specialized equipment and transform one of the hospital’s existing operating rooms into an advance care suite. Dr. Carl Shen, an ophthalmologist and retinal surgical specialist, joined the team and was instrumental in helping to set up the new program.

It is projected that 100 cases will be performed in the programs first year expanding to more than 300 in its second year. The addition of the retinal surgical program and specialist team will provide opportunities to support a variety of complex cases onsite and support complementary care for local patients in-office.

“Given the distance to any of these centres in London, Hamilton or Toronto, a patient’s access to timely care was unavailable in K-W,” says Dr. Savvas Chamberlain, President and Director of The Savvas Chamberlain Family Foundation. “Our Foundation has worked closely with St. Mary’s on this project for more than five years. This gift attempts to mitigate the issue of access by establishing a local retina program, ensuring immediate access to this specialized service is available in Waterloo Region.”

Dr. Chamberlain was joined by his wife, Christine, and daughter, Maria Harper, to celebrate the launch of the program through the newly named Savvas Chamberlain Eye Clinic at St. Mary’s in honour of their generous support.

“Launching a new service as specialized as our retinal surgical program is transformative for patients who can now receive care locally instead of traveling to London, Hamilton or Toronto. Seed funding by our generous donors, and the collaborative work across our team, is how new programs like this come to be in our community,” says Mark Fam, President, St. Mary’s General Hospital. “The addition of this new service to the Regional Eye Program allows us to fulfil our commitment towards expanding equitable access to the highest-quality care, where and when our patients need it.”

The program officially launched on September 25 when the team performed its first retinal surgery at St. Mary’s.
"We are grateful to The Savvas Chamberlain Family Foundation for helping St. Mary's extend crucial eye care services across our community,” says Susan Dusick, President and CEO of St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation. “Our community relies on St. Mary's to provide them with the best possible care when they need it. Donors like The Savvas Chamberlain Family Foundation help make sure St. Mary's staff have the tools and resources they need to do that."



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