Press Releases

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WRHA gets top marks for spinal cord injury program at HSC Winnipeg

Standards developed by Rick Hansen Institute and Accreditation Canada

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA)’s Spinal Cord Injury Program at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg (HSC) – the only program of its kind in Manitoba – is one of the first in Canada to be successfully accredited according to standards developed by the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) and Accreditation Canada (AC) in 2012 and rolled out for AC site reviews across the country. 

The recent WRHA-wide accreditation in spring 2016 is the first time the Manitoba program has been reviewed under these new, comprehensive and evidence-based standards for spinal cord injury (SCI) care. HSC Winnipeg’s Rehab SCI Program scored an exemplary 100%, and the Acute SCI program scored 99%. Today, RHI CEO Bill Barrable presented the SCI team with two certificates in acknowledgement of this significant achievement.

“These accreditation standards provide a level of specificity that better reflect the complexity of providing care to the SCI population,” said Bill Barrable. “We are pleased to congratulate the WRHA and HSC Winnipeg on demonstrating leadership by being early adopters of SCI-specific standards, and providing excellent and reliable SCI care in Canada.”

As the provincial trauma and major healthcare referral centre for Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, HSC Winnipeg’s interdisciplinary team provides specialized trauma, orthopedic and neurologic surgical acute care, and subacute rehabilitative care, including physiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work and recreation therapy for approximately 50-60 people with spinal cord injuries each year.

Given the nature of spinal cord injuries – whether a result of trauma, aging, or illness – patients can spend months in a hospital pursuing intensive therapies to build function and independence, followed by many more months of lifelong SCI outpatient care.

“A unique aspect of our program is that we develop deep and long-term relationships as we work with people during their hospital experience, to the transition home, and via ongoing support throughout their lifetime,” said Dr. Karen Ethans, Physiatrist and Service Chief for the SCI program. ”We are also fortunate to have great partners like the Canadian Paraplegic Association of Manitoba, and the University of Manitoba Spinal Cord Research Centre.”

Manitoba’s SCI program is nationally recognized for clinical research excellence in diverse areas of symptomatic management and secondary prevention of comorbidities, including virtual SWAT (skin wound assessment team) clinics for management of pressure ulcers, and medication interventions for spasticity, neurogenic bladder, and bowel management.

“Manitoba is proud to offer care and research expertise that supports people who experience a spinal cord injury,” said Milton Sussman, President and Chief Operating Officer, WRHA. “Access to specialized staff, tools and resources make an enormous difference in quality of life. On behalf of all Manitobans, I congratulate the team on their dedication.”

About HSC Winnipeg

HSC Winnipeg’s vision is Patients First. We provide the best possible hospital experience for patients and families, and create a positive working and learning environment for staff, volunteers and future healthcare providers. As Manitoba’s largest healthcare facility, we provide acute hospital (tertiary and other) and community health services to Manitobans and others. We provide specialty, subspecialty and sophisticated intensive care in a learning environment, and are Manitoba’s centre for trauma, burns, neurosciences, and most hospital-based pediatric care. For more information, visit

About Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) is one of the largest and most diverse health regions in Canada. WRHA provides health care to more than 700,000 people living in Winnipeg and Churchill, as well as support and specialty referral services to approximately 500,000 Manitobans outside Winnipeg, and residents of northwestern Ontario and Nunavut. With an annual operating budget of nearly $2.9 billion, the WRHA operates or funds over 200 health service facilities and programs which employ approximately 28,000 people across the Region. For more information, visit

About Rick Hansen Institute

Established in 2007, the Rick Hansen Institute is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries. For more information, visit

About Accreditation Canada

We are an independent, not-for-profit organization that has been improving health quality through accreditation since 1958. We accredit more than 1,200 organizations representing 5,700 sites and services across Canada. These are the organizations you count on to provide safe, quality health care – hospitals, walk-in clinics and labs, emergency medical services, long-term care homes, home care services, mental health services, and community health programs, among others. We also accredit provincial health authorities and health systems.

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
Click here to read more about the WRHA's efforts towards reconciliation

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