Ground-breaking research by Lorna de Witt on how society copes with an aging population is just one example of the many ways UWindsor nursing professors are reaching out to the surrounding community and striving to make it a better place to live. “What she has done over the last four years has been exemplary,” Maher El-Masri, the nursing faculty’s research leadership chair said of Dr. de Witt, who received the first-ever faculty award for research, scholarship and creative activity at a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon in Vanier Hall’s Katzman Lounge. “She has established significant partnerships both in and outside our faculty, as well as with numerous members of the community.” Dr. El-Masri said this is the first time the faculty has presented the award, which was established to help foster an environment of research excellence. He said it will be presented on an annual basis to top researchers to acknowledge their publications, funding and contributions to the nursing profession.
De Witt is a co-investigator in the five-year, $1.8 million Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance, a research network whose primary aim is to create a shift in the culture in long-term care, away from one that stigmatizes people with dementia and provides few opportunities for those directly involved to participate in the decision-making process regarding their own care. She’s also part of a project evaluating the effectiveness of a nurse practitioner-led initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The initiative finds ways to help aging people remain in long term care facilities for as long as possible rather than unnecessarily transferring them to hospital beds. The evaluation team includes El-Masri; Pat Somers, senior vice-president patient services and chief nursing executive at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital; and UWindsor economics department head Peter Townley, who will measure the cost-effectiveness of the program.
“It’s humbling,” de Witt said of the award. “In our faculty we’re building research capacity and we’re really fostering a lot of those very important community connections. I know how much everyone else in this faculty is achieving and I realize how much I still have to grow.” The faculty also acknowledged beneficiaries of internal nursing faculty research grants, including Susan Fox and Mary Bilek (from Windsor Regional Hospital); Judy Bornais and Janet Raiger (from Lambton College): Cheri Hernandez; Heather Krohn; Jamie Crowley and Debbie Kane; Kathy Fryer and Mary Cole, Linda Patrick, Judy Bornais and Jackie Andrews (from Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital). Tuesday's event was also attended by nursing leaders from Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital, Windsor Regional Hospital and the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.