Q&A with Dr. Kathleen Scullion

In support of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness month this April, we’re introducing the community to the members of an Okanagan Movement Disorders Clinic at Kelowna General Hospital and their work to support patients and their families navigating a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis.  

BRIDGING RESEARCH & PATIENT CARE 

For someone with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, the journey to navigate the changes they experience in their body and mind can be frustrating and daunting. But thanks to an Okanagan Movement Disorders Clinic at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), patients and their families have access to compassionate and comprehensive care.  

Meet Dr. Kathleen Scullion, an embedded researcher in the Clinic. Dr. Scullion has a PhD in neuroscience and certification in Health Information Management. She is dedicated to enhancing patient care by bridging research more seamlessly with health care delivery. 

What made you decide to join the Movement Disorder Clinic at KGH? 

My research during my PhD delved into how neurotransmitters impact movement and skilled behaviour. This naturally drew me to the Movement Disorder Clinic at KGH, where I could apply my expertise in neuroscience to further our understanding of movement disorders.  

What is your role with the Clinic and what are your primary responsibilities? 

I am what’s called an embedded researcher which means I’m part of the clinic team that generates research evidence to facilitate improvements in health care and patient care quality.  

My primary responsibilities are related to all aspects of creating a robust program of research with the aim to support Learning Health Systems. I work with physicians and administration to perform high quality work using evidence-based practices, quality improvement initiatives as well as community outreach and education. 

How does your role in the Clinic support/address some of the challenges these people face? 

My role aims to improve care for people with Parkinson’s disease through evidence-based research. We think we can do a lot more within the clinic model by integrating research into care more directly. Having more capacity helps us get those activities going alongside the clinical appointments. Ultimately we want to find and apply solutions to make life easier for these people and families. 

As part of the Closer to home than you think campaign, the KGH Foundation has committed to raising $5 million to establish a Centre of Excellence for Brain Health at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH)—a hub for training, research, innovation and leadership in the rapidly expanding fields of neuroscience, stroke care, degenerative movement disorders, chronic pain, dementia and other related clinical focuses. 

The Centre also aims to support the advancement of excellence in brain health care, bringing research closer to regional patients and providing them access to the best possible treatments and life-saving care, close to home. 

What is your vision for the Centre of Excellence in Brain Health at KGH? 

I envision the Centre as a hub for research innovation, fostering collaborations across health care, academia, industry and the community. A place where we strengthen existing partnerships and forge new ones will drive forward advancements in movement disorder research. 

Why do you feel the Centre, and the work you do, are important for our community? 

Research is pivotal in enhancing patient care, and vice versa. In a society where an aging population is prevalent, the impact of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease is profound. Our research not only benefits our local community but also extends provincially and nationally. 

What is the most gratifying aspect of your work? 

Being able to contribute to our community’s well-being through research is immensely gratifying. I’m thankful for the support of donors and advocates, whose contributions enable impactful research benefiting both our local community and patients worldwide. 

Earlier this year, the family of one of Dr. Wile’s patients, Barry Humphreys, announced a $1 million commitment to the KGH Foundation to advance regional Parkinson’s care at KGH 

This gift will grow the Movement Disorder Clinic’s capacity by helping to recruit more specialists who are skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s and related conditions as well as fund projects and solutions that will advance care. It will continue to integrate wrap-around supports and develop a team-based care model that connects other sites across our vast region. 

For more information and to give, please visit Brain Health | KGH Foundation 

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