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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

  • Prof finds a way to help after NZ quake
  • Police ask help after residence intrusions
  • Springlike notes, and a glance at February
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Prof finds a way to help after NZ quake

[Hirdes]A Waterloo researcher — John Hirdes (right) of the health studies and gerontology department — has been playing an unexpected role in getting help to vulnerable people after the disastrous earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, two weeks ago today.

He was able to help because of his role in interRAI, a network of researchers in some 30 countries that’s working on a computerized “assessment program” for elderly people. “We are all part of an international group that develops clinical assessment tools for frail older persons,” Hirdes explains. “I am the lead Canadian researcher and a co-author of the home care instrument. We use these instruments to assess older person’s needs, develop care plans, track outcomes, and monitor quality of care.”

He was actually on a family vacation during Waterloo’s reading week when he heard the news of the Christchurch quake, and thought of two of his New Zealand colleagues who are good friends. They are Brigette Meehan of New Zealand’s health ministry, and Nigel Millar, Chief Medical Officer for the Canterbury District Health Board, the local agency in the Christchurch area.

“I decided to message my friends to see how they were doing,” Hirdes said at the end of last week. “Nigel was in full speed managing the immediate emergency health response. He quipped that our group should have thought of creating an earthquake assessment.

“It occurred to me at that point that we would actually be able to help out by using our system in a novel way.”

What the interRAI researchers did, he explains, “is to develop a type of emergency triage system to help the health care staff identify the elderly people at greatest risk of harm after the earthquake — because, for example, they were alone and unable to take care of themselves, they were too disabled, they might have problems taking their medications, they (or their caregivers) were overwhelmed, etc.

“We have been able to use interRAI assessment data to identify vulnerable seniors and prioritize them for immediate follow-up in the 72 hours following the earthquake; identify a medium risk group that will need closer monitoring in the next month based on their likely difficulty with coping with the stress of the earthquake aftermath; and provide person-specific clinical records and care-planning information to support continuity of care to seniors who have been evacuated.

“Within 24 hours we were able to put the triage system in place, and seniors in Christchurch were given just a little bit better chance at coping with the horrible stress of that tragedy.

“We have also begun some discussions about longer term evaluation strategies to examine the impact of the event on the frail elderly population.” He notes that New Zealand prime minister John Key has publicly mentioned the benefits to New Zealand of “this collaborative effort from opposite ends of the globe”.

Millar, the medical officer in Christchurch, calls the InterRAI assessment program “an enormously valuable resource in helping  the  emergency response teams to provide care to older people who are at high risk. The unexpected twist was that being part of an international collaboration brought an immediate response from offshore to assist in planning and extracting the data. This could proceed independently without the emergency team being distracted.”

Back in Canada, Hirdes — who also serves as chair of the Ontario Home Care Research Network — says the availability of the same home care system in most parts of the country means that, “should we have a Canadian disaster of that scale (or less, hopefully), we could also employ the same emergency response strategies here.”

The instrument has been implemented in eight Canadian provinces, including Ontario, where assessments based on the interRAI system are used for home care, in inpatient psychiatry and in nursing homes. “Several other instruments are in different stages of implementation for other sectors,” Hirdes adds. “The data from these instruments are supported nationally through the Canadian Institute for Health Information through their Home Care Reporting System, Continuing Care Reporting System, and Ontario Mental Health Reporting System.”

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Police ask help after residence intrusions

Waterloo Regional Police are asking for public help after a pair of incidents in residence rooms early Sunday morning.

Says an announcement issued by the police early today: "On Sunday, March 6, at approximately 5:30 a.m., Waterloo Regional Police received complaints from two female University of Waterloo students that an unknown male entered their dorm bedrooms via an unlocked door. In each incident the male fled when the resident awoke. Neither resident was injured.

"This investigation is continuing. Police are requesting anyone who has information to contact the Major Case Unit at (519) 650-8500 ext. 8347 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

"Waterloo Regional Police and University of Waterloo Campus Police take this opportunity to remind all members of the community to ensure that their residences are properly secured at all times and to report suspicious activity at once."

University police made the first response to Sunday morning's incidents, which happened at the UW Place complex. UW Place is a suite-style residence, where it takes three separate keys to get into the building, into the suite area and into a bedroom — as long as the doors are locked.

After the incidents early Sunday, housing and residence staff scrambled to organize mandatory meetings that evening for all students living in residence. At those meetings, the dons reminded everybody of guidelines for personal and community safety.

In addition, university police have stepped up their patrols around student residences.

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Springlike notes, and a glance at February

It's International Celebrations Week, organized by the Federation of Students' "One Waterloo" campaign — but most of the "week" celebrations are concentrated in a single day, tomorrow, and a single location, the Student Life Centre. A "Country Fair" will operate in the great hall from 11:00 to 4:00, with a craft fair and photo exhibit running during the same hours in the lower atrium. At noontime there will be "free samples of dishes from around the world" in the multipurpose room (that's organized in partnership with the international student office) and at 3:00 there will be a multicultural fashion show. "Students will model traditional clothing from countries around the world," an announcement says. The Feds note that "other great events" during the week include some activities today marking International Women's Day, and the Cultural Caravan talent show Thursday evening in the SLC great hall.

[Sepehrband]Panthea Sepehrband (left), a PhD student in the mechanical and mechatronics engineering department, is one of two women who will be honoured Thursday night for their volunteer work. The award comes from Focus for Ethnic Women, a group that provides life skills and employment readiness training to immigrant and visible minority women. Sepehrband, originally from Iran, is being recognized along with Maria Dolores Hernandez, an environmental specialist at Dalsa Inc. The FEW awards dinner will be held at Golf's Steak House in Kitchener.

About 30 demonstrators gathered in the arts quad early Monday afternoon with flags and placards marking Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of protests against policies in the territories occupied by Israel. Demonstrators heard a couple of speeches by participants in the event, organized by Students for Palestinian Rights, and there was some chanting of pro-Palestine and anti-Israel slogans. Some demonstrators called for boycotts against Canadian businesses with Jewish owners who are thought to be supportive of Israel and its policies. Two counter-demonstrators carrying Israeli flags appeared; one was asked by a police officer to move away, and did so without any confrontation.

February, according to Frank Seglenieks of the university weather station, was “a month where both the temperature and precipitation were just within the average range”. He elaborates: “There were lots of dramatic temperature swings during the month with 20-plus degree differences between the high and lows for a day commonplace. Although the temperature danced above and below average, overall the month was 0.7 degrees colder. However it is still considered an average month for temperature as it was within the average range. The first week of the month had lots of precipitation and then it was then pretty dry until some rain on the last day. However, even though the total precipitation was 63.4 mm compared to the average of 51.3 mm, it was still (just barely) within the average range. For the year so far, the amount of precipitation that we have seen (118.3 mm) is very close to the average at this time (115.7 mm). It really has been a back-end loaded winter this year for snow, as between October 1 and January 31 we had 71 cm of snow, but in February alone we had 56 cm. This is close to double to average snow in February of 30.6 cm.”

The student Science Society will hold a referendum next Monday about a restructuring of its key governing body, the board of directors. • Cam McIntyre of the Warrior men's basketball squad has been named to the "second team all-stars" for the west division of Ontario University Athletics as the season comes to an end. • Beverley Winkler, who has been working at the university since 1984 and served as undergraduate coordinator in the chemistry department, officially retired as of February 1.


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Link of the day

International Women's Day

When and where

Life and Health Sciences Conference hosted by Communitech, today, The Tannery, 151 Charles Street West, Kitchener. Details.

‘BlackBerry 101’ Rogers Trainer-to-Go program one-hour session 12:00, Stratford campus, register ext. 23006.

Senate undergraduate council 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change presents Mike Morrice, Sustainable Waterloo, speaking on that group’s initiatives, 12:00, Environment 1 room 221.

Waterloo International country presentations: Pakistan: Where Civilizations Meet” and “Australia: The Land Downunda, Mate” 12:00, Needles Hall room 1101.

Library workshop: “Data Retrieval from Statistics Canada Surveys” 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Institute for Computer Research and Games Institute present Gray Graffam, Stratford campus, “Immersion and Identity in Virtual World” 2:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Career workshops today: “Work Search Strategies for International Students” 2:00, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Thinking About Pharmacy?” 5:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation seminar: Marten Scheffer, Wageningen University, “Early Warning Signals for Critical Transitions” 2:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

i3 Challenge for student proposals to improve the University Avenue entrance, top 10 finalists on display 3:00 to 6:00, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre, comments invited.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology seminar: Robert Bristow, University of Toronto, “Contextual Synthetic Lethality and Hypoxic Cells” 3:30, Chemistry II room 361.

WatRISQ presents Joseph Kim, statistics and actuarial science, “Visualizing Risk Contribution, Performance and Diversification in a Financial Conglomerate” 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Accounting and Finance Students Association roundtable with alumni and other professionals on “Investment and Portfolio Management, Post-Crisis” 4:30, Hagey Hall room 1101. Details.

Explore Islam: “Islam in the West Today” 7 p.m., Math and Computer room 2065, presented by Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association.

Career workshops Wednesday: “Work Search Strategies” 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “career Investment Assessment” 2:30, Tatham rom 1112; “Science Careers of Recent Alumni” 5:30, Tatham room 2218. Details.

‘So You Think You Can Text’ cellphone texting competition Wednesday 12:00 to 5:00, Campus Tech, Student Life Centre. Details.

‘Shin Splints’ presentation by personal trainer Stephane Gregory, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Wednesday 12:00, Needles Hall room 1116.

Free noon concert: “Greensleaves” (recorder, lute, viola, vocals) Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Region of Waterloo Rapid Transit Project public consultations Wednesday, drop in between 3 and 8 p.m., First United Church. Details and other dates.

Income tax information sessions for international students, Wednesday 4:30 in Arts Lecture Hall room 113; Thursday 10:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

‘An Experiment with an Air Pump’ by Shelagh Stephenson, production by department of drama, preview by invitation Wednesday 7 p.m.; public performances March 10-12 and 17-19 at 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Centre for International Governance Innovation panel on “the concept and merits of globalization”, including Jorge Heine of CIGI, essayist John Ralston Saul, and William D. Coleman of Balsillie School, Wednesday 7 p.m., 57 Erb Street West Live webcast also available. Details.

East-West Music Series: “China: Imagined and True” by K-W Chinese Music Ensemble, Wednesday 7:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel, admission free.

CIS women’s hockey national championships March 10-13 at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre, hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University. Details.

Oracle Financial System downtime March 10 at 12:00 noon to morning of March 16.

Alicia Hendley, counselling services, author of novel A Subtle Thing, speaks at university bookstore, South Campus Hall, Thursday 4:00.

‘Orange Pop’ concert sponsored by Engineers Without Borders, performers including Unaccompanied Minors, Acabellas, Water Boys, Friday 8:00, Conrad Grebel UC great hall, $3 donation suggested.

Juggling Festival (19th annual) hosted by UW Juggling Club, Saturday-Sunday, Student Life  Centre; performance in Humanities Theatre, Saturday 7 p.m., tickets $5. Details.

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