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Truro Surgeon and his colleagues awarded QEII Foundation grant to study role of nutrition in surgical outcomes

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A woman stands with a man, facing the camera. She has long blonde hair, a black and white shirt and he is a doctor with medical scrubs, blue, and a lanyard.

Most of us know how important good nutrition is to our overall health, but its important role in a surgical patients’ preparation for surgery, including decreasing the incidence of surgical site infections post-operatively, cannot be overstated.

That is exactly what Dr. Ahmed Jad and Ashley Manuel, and their colleagues hope to demonstrate and quantify through a new research study, and ultimately transform pre-operative care by adding a focus on nutrition. 

Dr. Jad is a general and bariatric surgeon with the surgical team at Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, an assistant professor of surgery at Dalhousie University, and is the Northern Zone surgeon champion for Nova Scotia Health’s National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP). Ashley is the inpatient dietitian on the surgical unit in Truro. 

With the support of their peers, they have secured a Translating Research into Care (TRIC) Grant from the QEII Foundation. Valued at approximately $100,000, the grant will support a multi-year research study: Enhancing Post-operative Surgical Outcomes and Decreasing Length of Stay for Elective General Surgery Patients at Colchester East Hants Health Centre through Implementation of a Pre-operative Nutrition Clinic.

“As the principal investigator of this study, I am truly honoured and grateful for the opportunity to further explore and implement strategies aimed at improving surgical outcomes and patient care within our healthcare facility,” said Dr. Jad. 

“The grant will enable us to establish a pre-operative nutrition clinic, which we believe will have a significant positive impact on the well-being and recovery of patients undergoing elective general surgery procedures.” 

The development of this proposal has been a collaborative effort, with Ashley playing a pivotal role, alongside Tina Strickland, director of policy and planning, Nutrition and Food Services. Ashley will take on the role of the study dietitian and research coordinator, with Tina as the administrative co-principal investigator. Additionally, Dr. Duane Sheppard, a distinguished gastroenterologist, will provide invaluable support by overseeing the data analysis, and Dr. Alejandra Lopez, Colchester East Hants Health Centre anesthesia site lead, will also contribute her expertise to this study. 

The team is working with the Nova Scotia Health Research Ethics Board and other colleagues to formalize their plans and expects to finalize staffing and other logistics and begin recruiting patients for this study early this summer. 

Preventing surgical site infections (SSIs), along with other avoidable complications, are priorities for Nova Scotia Health and a key area of focus for our Surgical Access and Quality Improvement Strategy. Teams routinely monitor SSI rates, and other outcomes data as part of our participation in the NSQIP program.  Not only are good surgical outcomes important to individual patients, but they can also help prevent additional emergency department or primary care office visits, longer hospital stays or readmissions - freeing up resources to provide more patients with the care they need sooner. 

For more than a decade, the donor funded QEII Foundation TRIC grants have been closing the gap between evidence and current practice, supporting the health of Atlantic Canadians today and for generations to come.

“QEII Foundation TRIC grants are a way for researchers and clinicians to make tangible advancements in patient care,” said Susan Mullin, President and CEO of the QEII Foundation. “The grants go a long way to help researchers and their colleagues turn theory-based ideas into improved practice and clinical innovation.”

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jad, Ashley and their colleagues and stay tuned for more details as their study begins!

Photo of (L-R) Ashley Manuel and Dr. Ahmed Jad.

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