Kent and Irving Shipbuilding Donate $1 Million to IWK Health Centre

HALIFAX, N.S.   At an announcement held today at the IWK Health Centre, Kent and Irving Shipbuilding announced a $1 million donation to support a state-of-the-art neonatal care intensive care unit as well as ground-breaking research in the treatment of childhood blood disorders and leukemia.

Premature infants account for many patients at the IWK - 937 babies out of the 5000 infants delivered at the IWK each year.  Most require an average stay of 38 days per baby.  The IWK’s nine talented neonatologists work collaboratively to care for region’s sickest babies.

“Kent has been working with the IWK since 1990,” said Stew Valcour, Vice President of Kent.  “On behalf of the 3100 associates at Kent, we can think of no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than through support of the IWK Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that delivers world-class care for the Maritimes youngest, smallest, and most vulnerable patients.”

 “A new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, with private rooms, will help our clinicians better meet the increasing demands for our services, lead to improved patient and family experiences, and will allow families to be more involved in their babies’ development through skin-to-skin contact,  infant-parent bonding and breastfeeding,” says Jocelyn Vine, Vice President, Patient Care, IWK Health Centre.  “In addition, this significant gift from KENT will help our world-leading oncology researchers better understand childhood cancer which will help foster healthier generations of Maritimers.”

“Spending nearly five months in an open-bay neonatal intensive care unit was one of the most difficult experiences of our lives, said Laura Fader, mother to twins, Kendra and Kinsey.  “A new, state-of-the-art NICU will vastly improve care by allowing privacy and confidentiality during an extremely traumatic time.”

Kendra and Kinsey were very premature or “micro-preemie” babies – born at 27 weeks gestation - who spent most of their NICU stay on life support.  Today they are thriving five-year-olds, despite continuing health issues and regular visits to the IWK.

Irving Shipbuilding’s $500,000 contribution will be used to support the recruitment of a hematologist; research and leading edge clinical trials; as well as a related expansion of Dr. Jason Berman’s Zebrafish laboratory.
After a drug has been shown to be promising in cells in test tubes, it is then most frequently tested in mice and eventually, in humans.  Dr. Berman’s lab is being developed to provide an intermediate step between the test tube and the mouse.  That test system is the Zebrafish, a vertebrate with a blood system surprisingly similar to humans, and with other characteristics that can be relatively easily and cheaply manipulated.  Cancer cells from a variety of human cancers are transplanted into early Zebrafish embryos and spread, forming metastases, a crucial step in the cancer becoming fatal. 

Dr. Berman’s lab has already shown that the effectiveness of new drugs against human tumours in Zebrafish can serve as a screen to decide to advance or not to advance drugs into other test systems.  Dr. Berman is developing partnerships that will allow this program to significantly expand, and the Irving donation will be an important contributor to that capacity expansion.  In addition, a portion of the Irving Shipbuilding contribution will be dedicated to recruiting a hematologist whose primary interest is in treating children with blood disorders like hemophilia.

“Excellence in health services for infants and children is very important to our employees and their families and the IWK is well-known in our community as a true centre of excellence,” said Ross Langley, Vice Chairman and Interim President of Irving Shipbuilding.  “Dr. Berman’s research is unique in Canada and we are pleased to support the expansion of his lab which will create a sought-after, attractive research environment – an environment where investigation, learning and discovery will lead to improvements that will benefit not only children in the Maritimes, but around the world.”

 “We’re fortunate at the IWK in that we can take our oncology research back to the bedside, so to speak, which helps advance our work in a way that can’t happen in a laboratory setting alone,” said Dr. Mark Bernstein, Chief of Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Division Head, IWK Health Centre “This gift from Irving Shipbuilding will certainly enable us to focus on developing more effective and less toxic treatments for childhood cancers to dramatically improve the outcome for many of the patients we treat.”

This company investment, in the enhancement of medical capabilities and innovative health care solutions at the IWK Health Centre, are possible because of the economic and industrial benefits arising from the federal government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

“On behalf of the IWK Foundation, its donors and the families we serve throughout this region, thank you Kent, Irving Shipbuilding and Jim Irving for your generosity,” said Jennifer Gillivan, President & CEO, IWK Health Centre Foundation. “You are laying the groundwork for the next phase of the IWK’s history.  Thank you for your commitment to world-class health care for women, children and families in the Maritimes.” 

About the IWK Health Centre Foundation
The IWK Health Centre Foundation inspires and celebrates giving to support excellence in specialized care for Maritime families. United with its donors, the Foundation is committed to raising funds to support the areas of greatest need at the IWK, including the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment, innovative research and special programs such as Spiritual Health, Child Life and Bilingual Services.

About the IWK Health Centre
The IWK Health Centre is the region’s leading health centre providing specialized, quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritimes and beyond. In addition to providing highly specialized (tertiary) care, the IWK also provides primary care services. The IWK is also engaged in leading-edge research; works to promote healthy lifestyles for families; and as an academic health centre provides education opportunities for health professionals and other learners.

About KENT
KENT is Atlantic Canada’s home improvement store, part of the J.D. Irving, Limited group of companies.

For over 30 years KENT has provided the service, knowledge and products that customers need to accomplish their building and renovation goals. We currently operate 41 retail locations and employ over 3,100 associates in communities across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.

About Irving Shipbuilding
Irving Shipbuilding Inc. (ISI) provides shipbuilding and repair, drill rig construction and conversion, offshore fabrication, industrial manufacturing, engineering, supply chain management and quality and technical services.  ISI consist of four manufacturing sites in Atlantic Canada; Halifax Shipyard, Woodside Industries, Shelburne Ship Repair, and East Isle Shipyard on PEI; as well as four engineering offices across Canada, under Fleetway Inc. and Oceanic Consulting. 

On October 19, 2011, after a competitive, merit-based bid process, Irving Shipbuilding was proud to be chosen by the Government of Canada to build the Royal Canadian Navy’s new combat fleet that includes construction of 6 Atlantic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) and 15 Canadian Surface Combatants over the next three decades.


Media Contacts:

Carla Adams
Principal Communications Strategist
IWK Health Centre Foundation

Nick Cox
Public Relations Advisor
IWK Health Centre

Mary Keith
J.D. Irving, Limited
(506) 632-5122 Office
(506) 650-8209 Cell