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Community Health Outreach office opens in central

Keith Ashfield, right, took part in the official opening of a new genetics research office in Grand Falls-Windsor. The minister was joined at the ceremony by Al Hawkins, mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor, left, and Dr. Pat Parfrey, associate dean of clinical research in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine.
By Sharon Gray

The official opening of the new Community Health Outreach office in Grand Falls-Windsor took place this week, with representatives from the Government of Canada, Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine and the town of Grand Falls-Windsor in attendance.

Memorial University established this Community Health Outreach office as part of a provincial network of outreach offices conducting research on human genetic disorders and population health in Newfoundland and Labrador. In collaboration with Eastern and Central Health, the first program to be initiated will be the Community Screening Program in Colorectal Cancer. The Grand Falls-Windsor office will start with a staff of six and will grow to 12 staff within one year.

The new outreach office is supported by funding in the amount of $1.4 million, with $742,771 from Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency’s Community Adjustment Fund.

“Our government’s Economic Action Plan was designed to help communities like Grand Falls-Windsor diversify their economies, allowing them to build a strong and sustainable future,” said Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway. “The official opening of this clinic marks a milestone in the efforts of the community to create new employment opportunities and help strengthen the local economy.”

Other support includes $256,000 from the provincial department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and $350,000 from Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Pat Parfrey, associate dean of clinical research in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine, said the new Community Health Clinic will initiate as its first project the Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Screening Program for families at increased risk of CRC in the Central Health region.

“Colorectal cancer is the most frequent cancer not caused by smoking and is a cancer frequently caused by inherited predisposition. Newfoundland has the highest rate of familial CRC in the world. We will identify patients with familial CRC, try and identify the genetic cause and enrol family members in screening programs to prevent cancer.”