CSORN Insights- Canada East Spine Centre Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Site

By: Eden Richardson

I am pleased to highlight this issue’s CSORN site, the Canada East Spine Centre. Canada East Spine Centre is located in Saint John, New Brunswick. CESC is a multi-disciplinary centre for excellence in spine care based in Saint John, New Brunswick. The CESC team includes Orthopaedic spine surgeons, Neurosurgeons, Physiatrists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, students and researchers. Their mission is to better understand the factors that lead to spinal conditions, continue to develop ways to most effectively treat complex problems, and to improve patient outcomes (reducing pain, improving mobility, and improving patient’s quality of life) through clinical research.

CESC was established by Co-Founders Dr. Edward Abraham and Dr. Neil Manson, active Orthopaedic surgeons at Saint John Orthopaedics since 2008. Since then, CESC has grown to become one of the largest spine centres in Atlantic Canada under the leadership of Director of Research, Erin Bigney. CESC is focused on patient-orientated research envisioning changing healthcare practices to better serve our patient’s needs, such as streamlining healthcare, launching and supporting empirically supported new programing to alleviate patient pain and disability to investigating where patients are in need of better support and innovative ways to supply that support. CESC is also committed to disseminating education on spine disease and treatment by providing patient education on the latest local, national and international research, and mentorship to future doctors and students in our community.

CESC believes in the importance of collaborative work and has many collaborators locally, nationally and internationally. These collaborations work to treat the patients as a whole person instead of within specialty silos. These collaborations have bettered patient care over the years by understanding how to treat patients who need extra support for success. Their collaborators work in universities, hospitals, research centres, and other speciality businesses. In 2020, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation focused their researcher of the month nominations on health collaborations and awarded CESC four research team of the month awards and due to these wins, is up for research team of the year.

CESC is committed to encouraging a dedication to health research in future generations and demonstrates this through their involvement with the Research in Medicine (RIM) program and their growing volunteer program. The RIM program is a great teaching initiative that requires medical school students to complete a research project as part of their medical education. The CESC research team and their surgeons have been enthusiastic mentors for the last 5 years. They have had 14 RIM students complete projects with them.

The CESC volunteer program currently has 27 volunteers that range from undergraduate, master, and PhD students. The program started 6 years ago and has to date had 70 volunteers. This year is their largest year and they hope to continue this growth. The volunteer program was designed to give students an opportunity to learn about how medical research is practically conducted. CESC provides many benefits to these volunteers including basic spine education, free certifications for their CV, CV construction assistance, academic/career references, proposal/manuscript assistance and publishing opportunities.

The CESC are the 3rd largest contributors in Canada (currently have 2400 participants) to the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN). CESC has a research staff of 5 team members, 4 full time staff and 1 part time staff. Eden Richardson, Research Manager who is also the national CSORN Data Quality Coordinator is the lead of CSORN at CESC orthopaedic and neurosurgery divisions and the 3 sub-studies they participate in (Degen Spondy, Deformity and CSM). She coordinates with all the orthopaedic and neurosurgery surgeons to complete the surgeon needed forms. She also makes sure every month who needs to be captured for follow-up and collects any missing data that is needed. She is also the primary person who enters all of the data captured for CSORN. She oversees 2 full-time Research Coordinators Dana El-Mughayyar and Amanda Vandewint who assist with CSORN data collection and CSORN patient enrollment. They attend clinics to enroll and collect follow-up information including patient completed follow-up forms and adverse event forms. Donna Eastwood who is the part-time Clinical Research Associate (retired Orthopaedic Nurse Associate) assists with collecting discharge forms for orthopaedic spine inpatients. Everyone works together to keep patient CSORN follow-up capture percentages high and make sure they have the best data quality. All 5 staff members are also involved in numerous research projects and clinical trials aside from CSORN.

CESC also uses the 27 volunteers they have in their volunteer program to assist with collecting patient CSORN follow-up surveys at 6-18 weeks, 12 months and 24 months. Depending on the month, they have anywhere from 20-70 follow-up phone calls to complete outside of patients being seen in clinic. The volunteers go through strict hospital training, Covid 19 training and CSORN training with our Volunteer Manager Dana El-Mughayyar. They have set processes and procedures they have established over the years to make sure patient CSORN follow-ups are captured, and how to handle any situation a volunteer may come across when they call patients. Our volunteers love the experience, and a few that applied to medical school have chosen to do orthopaedics as their speciality because of the experience they had with CESC. These volunteers are extremely important to the CESC team.

Since the volunteer program has been such a monumental success, CESC in collaboration with the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation is establishing a scholarship to support undergraduate, graduate or medial students. It will be established this fall!
Please follow Canada East Spine Centre on their Twitter page @CanadaEastSpine and on Facebook @CanadaEastSpine to discover the most updated news and research from their team!

Canada East Spine Centre- Orthopaedic Team
Dr. Edward Abraham
Dr. Neil Manson
Dr. Stephen Connolly

Canada East Spine Centre- Neurosurgery Team
Dr. Najmedden Attabib
Dr. George Kolyvas
Dr. André Le Roux
Janice Kenney (Loop-D) – Neurosurgery Case Manager

Canada East Spine Centre- Research Team
Erin Bigney- Director of Research Operations
Eden Richardson- Research Manager and National CSORN Data Quality Coordinator
Donna Eastwood- Retired Orthopaedic Nurse Associate, Clinical Research Associate
Dana El-Mughayyar- Research Coordinator
Amanda Vandewint- Research Coordinator