Heart Institute celebrates the big 4-0… and a history steeped in success

The date was May 11, 1976. The University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) officially opened its doors, and its founder, Dr. Wilbert Keon, saw his vision come to life: an integrated, full-spectrum and world-renowned heart health centre that combines patient care, research and medical training.

Guided by its history, the Institute continues to make patient care its top priority. As a result, patient satisfaction exceeds 98% each year, one of the highest ratings in Ontario. Every day, more than 1,400 doctors, nurses, researchers, technicians and professionals dedicate themselves to excellence in care. UOHI also runs Canada’s largest prevention and rehabilitation program in cardiac medicine, designed entirely in-house.

Driven by its research, the Institute ranks in the top three percent of research centres worldwide for the quality and impact of its scientific publications. What’s more, many UOHI discoveries have led to major advances in the field. For instance, the Institute pinpointed the primary genetic risk factor for heart attacks and coronary heart disease—the biggest determinant identified since cholesterol. In addition, UOHI uncovered the genetic basis for atrial fibrillation, the most-common form of cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). 

Finally, spurred by its medical-education mission, the Institute excels at training the next generation of cardiac specialists and researchers. Indeed, every year, more than 280 future physicians and other professionals pursue graduate and postdoctoral studies there. The information tools and programs UOHI creates for patients also serve as models for other healthcare centres across Canada and abroad.

“I am so proud to be part of such a beautiful, unique and recognized institution that has become an established leader in heart health around the world,” said Dr. Thierry Mesana, current President and CEO. “What we have accomplished over four decades is unique and remarkable, but certainly not surprising. It is thanks to a team of dedicated individuals that have always put patients first that we have made Dr. Keon’s dream come true.”

The UOHI Foundation will also be marking this special anniversary. In addition to its regular slate of events, it will host a gala in October to salute Dr. Wilbert Keon and to highlight the Institute’s many achievements. As well, the Foundation aims to collect more than $4 million this year to help finance a shining new hybrid operating room in honour of Dr. Keon.

Of course, the Institute itself will celebrate its 40 years of success with an array of activities all year long. Stay up to date by visiting the Institute’s website, as well as its Facebook page and Twitter account. Those who wish to recognize the Heart Institute, its team, and the impact it had on their lives can do so by email at: 40@ottawaheart.ca.