Research Spotlight: Providence Care Hospital

Health research at the new Providence Care Hospital in Kingston

Research Spotlight: Providence Care Hospital

What does the new Providence Care Hospital (PCH) in Kingston mean for health research in Ontario and the CAHO community?

Providence Care is a proud member of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario, and our new space is an asset to the research community in southeastern Ontario. The PCH design provided dedicated space for health research in a prime location: Kingston is within easy distance of both Ottawa and Toronto, and our hospital itself overlooks local parks and Lake Ontario.

Researchers have open areas suitable for collaboration at PCH and just steps from our in-house Health Sciences Library, which is an academic library accessed by health care providers across the region. In addition, each of the nine inpatient units has space on the unit for researchers and care teams to work together with patients and families.

What is the focus of research at Providence Care?

The top three areas of focus for researchers at Providence Care align with our Mission to enhance the quality of life for the people we serve.  Working hand-in-hand with our health care partners, Providence Care offers programs and services in the areas of ‘Aging, Mental Health and Rehabilitative Care.’ Our research streams are aligned to these themes as well.

From a strategic perspective, our focus areas are also aligned to the Queen’s University Faculty of Health Services, and in particular they are supported by the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Divisions of Geriatric and Forensic Psychiatry, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Schools of Rehabilitation Therapy and Nursing.

When you look at the full spectrum of research, from knowledge generation to translation and exchange, there is quite a lot going on at PCH.

First, with respect to knowledge generation, currently in Psychiatry and its subspecialties at PCH there are 37 active studies totaling $8.2 million. These include:

  • 3 CIHR studies (2.7m) – dementia, CT evaluation, drug efficacy in seniors
  • 6 OBI studies (2.2m) neurodegenerative disease and biomarkers in depression
  • 4 CAN-BIND studies (800K) biomarkers in depression
  • 11 pharma drug evaluation studies (600K)

When it comes to Knowledge Translation and Exchange, the Centre for Studies in Aging & Health at Providence Care focuses on education and training, capacity building, development of partnerships and linkages and the use of online education and information.

The Centre is supported by success in grant applications from agencies such as Health Force Ontario, The Ontario Research Coalition, and Ontario Senior’s Secretariat and the South East Local Health Integration Network.  Important current initiatives include continued involvement as one of three funded sites involved in the provincial Age Friendly Communities initiative and for the Ministry of Corrections, the development and dissemination of materials on Aging for the inmates and institutional care providers, staff and administration.

What’s next for research at Providence Care Hospital?

Looking ahead, since moving into the new hospital, we see health research activities growing in Southeastern Ontario.  This relates to the previously mentioned new space and expanded partnerships. These provide new opportunities for our research supporters to grow and develop on-site and with our acute care academic hospital partners contributing substantially to the development of an Integrated Research Institute comprised of the Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences, the Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Providence Care. We also are working hard to attract new researchers into contributing to developments  in care for seniors, people living with mental illness and people living with and/or recovering from illness or injury.  


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Providence Care Hospital is one of Ontario’s 23 research hospitals that contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Read more Research Spotlight posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog or join the conversation about why health research matters for Ontario on Twitter, using the hashtag #onHWS.



New rehab study at Providence Care gets Fitbit treatment


New Rehab Study at Providence Care gets “Fitbit” Treatment

Feature Photo: Dr. Trier and Dr. DePaul demonstrate some of the technology associated with their study. Photo by Matthew Manor at Kingston General Hospital.

Dr. Jessica Trier of St. Mary’s of the Lake’s Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Program and Dr. Vincent DePaul, Queen’s University’ Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy have developed a new research study to benefit patients with Acquired Brain Injury with their rehabilitative care.

Dr. DePaul says the introduction of wearables like the Fitbit have opened doors in terms of measurement of physical behaviour. That is what the study focuses on. Patients will wear an ActiviPal – a small accelerometer (like a Fitbit) – during rehab, for the first seven days post-discharge and three months after discharge. Afterwards, the data is downloaded and analyzed.

Dr. DePaul explains, “This device detects and records the body’s motions in 3 different planes of movement. It’s able to tell us if the person was lying, sitting, standing or walking, and how much time they spent in each activity, and what time of day they performed these activities. We will be looking at how that activity data is associated with their physical status and some of those other factors, their cognitive – ability to think – and do sort of higher level activities and some of their personal, social situations and see if that affects their activity patterns at different points in time.”

Dr. Trier goes into more detail on the purpose of monitoring the patient’s activity, “We have a general idea of what people’s activity patterns are like while they are in the hospital but that’s never been formally studied. We also don’t really know what those people do when they leave rehabilitation and carry on with their exercise programs in the community, particularly in this population with cognitive impairment.”

There are two groups the doctors would like to focus on: those who received funding through motor vehicle insurance and therefore may have a lot of support from a community rehab team, and those who may have had a different cause of brain injury, such as falling down the stairs. The latter group may not have insurance funding and therefore have limited access to community rehabilitation resources.

“We want to know if there is a difference in activity patterns between those two populations that may have more or less funding in terms of their activity patterns,” Dr. Trier confirms.

Dr. DePaul adds, “This is a pilot study, meaning that we hope to be able to collect some initial information and data about the activity patterns of these patients, and try out the research methods with the idea that we’ll be able to do the larger study and ask bigger questions.”

This project is still in the very early days, HSREB approval has been received and Dr. Trier and Dr. DePaul expect to recruit their first participant in early in the fall. Stay tuned!


Related Stories:
Patients + Research: Mike Gardner
HWS Field Trip: Kingston


Providence Care is one of Ontario’s 24 research hospitals that contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Read more Research Spotlight posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog or join the conversation about why health research matters for Ontario on Twitter, using the hashtag #onHWS.

Patients + Research: Mike Gardner

Patients + Research is a platform for patients to discuss their relationship and experience with the research that leads to new cures, cares and treatments.

Patients + Research: Mike Gardner


Meet Mike

Mike Gardner has received rehabilitative therapy from St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital after suffering a stroke in 2014. He shares his progress and why he feels research is important to Stroke Medicine.

Mike Gardner at Providence Care


Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your health story?

I am 53-years-old and married with one adult child. I was raised in Montreal and moved to Ontario to pursue a career in Electronics. I have a Bachelor of Science in Electronics/Computers from Concordia and I have been working intros industry for 30 Years.  I work in Electronics Manufacturing for a Global manufacturer, managing customers like Siemens, GE, Avnet, etc. I travel the Globe in this position to places like China, Europe, USA – regularly.
On a personal medical side, I had a Quad Bypass eight years ago at Ottawa General Hospital. I resumed active life after two and a half months of recovery.  Late November 2014, I suffered a Stroke that affected my left side – primarily my arm and leg movement (full paralysis). I was admitted to KGH for the first 3 weeks and moved to St. Mary’s around Mid December 2014 under the care of Dr. Bagg and Dr. Porter. I was released home at end of Feb 2015.

At the time of release, I was using a wheelchair for mobility.  I had home therapy for about six to seven weeks and then went back to St. Mary’s for an additional four weeks, using patient therapy.

I now walk with the use of a cane (I continue to have some balance issues). I have use of my lefty hand, yet strength is an issue and some mobility issues. Some issues continue with shoulder mobility and movement. I have some issues with left ankle, toes and knee movement.  All that said – the therapy at St. Mary’s brought me back to an acceptable level of independence. And I continue to see some improvement!

The adage “use it or lose it” has been my mantra and has worked for me!


Why does health research matter to you?

Research helps to better identify what the cause of stroke is, the possible prevention of stroke and the recovery of stroke!  The more we can address these areas, doctors and healthcare workers in this field can better assist patients to recover back to a normal life pattern.  Investing in research can help reduce the costs eventually associated to all aspects of stroke survival and recovery. Hopefully research may help to find a real cure, real full prevention, etc.

Imagine that if we can find a way to help prevent stroke, or recover faster and get the patient back to a normal life, we can consider how to use these funds with other kinds of health issues like cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.

Mike Gardner at Providence Care
“The therapy at St. Mary’s restored my independence,” said Mike Gardner, pictured here with Physiotherapy Practice Leader, Mary-Jo Demers. 


How does health research contribute to a healthier Ontario?

Research helps with prevention, education and recovery. Research today helps Ontario reduce cost in the future. It helps Ontarians live longer more productive lives!


How can the patient voice support, improve or empower health research?

Patient involvement helps move theory to real life!  The more a patient is involved to help with training, prevention, cure in all aspects of Stroke Medicine – the more it will help with the future of this affliction in a positive way!

Mike Gardner with students at Providence Care
Mike with student volunteers at Providence Care



If you would like to participate in the Patients + Research blog series, please email or call Elise Bradt at, 416-205-1469, or tweet us at @CAHOhospitals.

Stay tuned on our blog for more Patients + Research posts and share your own insights on Twitter with the hashtag #onHWS. To learn more about why health research matters for Ontario and how you can support it, download the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Policy Platform and check out our other blog posts and videos.


HWS Field Trips: Kingston

HWS Field Trips: Kingston

Research hospitals play a leading role in making Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter. To demonstrate the world-class research happening across our province, we took a field trip to historic Kingston, home to a highly innovative, interdisciplinary health research community.

We went behind-the-scenes at Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital, Providence Care, and Queens University, and were delighted to be joined by patients, research teams, hospital CEOs and local politicians MPP Sophie Kiwala and Mayor Bryan Paterson along the way.

This blog post highlights only a fraction of the research we learned about on our field trip. To take the full live-tweeted tour, scroll through our Storify story here.

Continue reading “HWS Field Trips: Kingston”