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International Advances: What is John Wedge Up to Now?

John Wedge
John Wedge

The international program of The Hospital for Sick Children packages and exports expertise developed at HSC for the benefit of children worldwide. The program currently includes: advising on a project to bring three children's hospitals together into one institution in Dublin, educating nurses in Ghana, developing and administrating a telehealth program in the Caribbean, breaking ground for a new hospital in Mumbai, and completing an ambitious program in Qatar in the Arabian Peninsula. The international program is well exemplified by the Qatar Project, which has been under way since 2004. Since completing his term as chairman of the Department of Surgery, pediatric orthopedic surgeon John Wedge has been chairing Sick Kids International Advisory Board. Using the expertise and brand of the Hospital for Sick Children, John, Cathy Seguin and their colleagues have been advising on the building of a 180 bed Children's Hospital in Qatar, which will open in 2012.

In addition, John continues a busy surgical practice treating complex hip problems in children and lecturing internationally. He has been in Qatar 13 times over the last 6 years, generally staying two to fourteen days, depending on the mission. He is coordinating the development of the Operating Room, Imaging Suite, and Rehabilitation Program, based on designs at HSC and Bloorview Kids Rehab in Toronto. The new hospital has been designed by world class architects as have many of the buildings in Doha.

Hospital Building
The Hamid Childrens Hospital in Doha

A medical school has been built by the government in collaboration with the Hamad Medical Centre. It graduated its first class of students in a joint venture with the Weill Cornell Medical School in New York City. A very progressive Emir, Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is focusing the wealth of Qatar on education and research. The collaboration with The Hospital for Sick Children is managed by an advisory committee chaired by John and comprised of leaders in the administration of HSC.

The goal of the program is to develop the infrastructure and staff from the people of Qatar and to sustain the success of the enterprise through a continuing relationship with The Hospital for Sick Children. Revenue generated through the project will be used to offset the cost of humanitarian activities of the hospital, maintaining a neutral budget rather than making a profit or recruiting patients to Toronto. This well-organized enterprise replaces a loose network of humanitarian activities conducted independently by many members of HSC staff over past years, using vacation time and outdated equipment in an ad-hoc effort lacking a central plan.

The architecture of Doha

Excellent staff have been recruited to lead the program on the ground in Qatar. Former HSC nurse managers of Surgery, the Emergency Room, the Operating Room and specialists in Research and Education have been hired to work in three month rotations. They will serve under the medical direction of pediatric nephrologist Denis Geary, who chaired Nephrology at HSC for the past 15 years. Qatari citizens who have trained in Canada and Europe will lead the clinical services.

Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a GDP per capita of $86,000, based on its reserves of natural gas and its techniques for processing natural gas for transport in liquid form. The progressive philosophy of the Emir, the resources of the country and the excellent leadership provided by the HSC international team promise to develop and sustain a world class centre in Qatar that will be a magnet for patients in the region, analogous to the role that HSC fills in North America. The enterprise is being developed in collaboration with the HSC Research Institute. It has an excellent staff of well- trained business and management personnel in addition to the advisory board.


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