Neurosurgeon awarded lifetime achievement in health

Minister Jason Copping presented Dr. Keith Aronyk with the lifetime achievement in health award on Oct. 4 at Government House.

Dr. Aronyk’s dedication and vision advanced neurological care for Albertans of all ages, especially at the University of Alberta Hospital. The new Dr. Peter B. R. Allen lifetime achievement award honours health-care workers who have had a lasting impact on improving the lives of Albertans over a career of more than 20 years.

“Dr. Aronyk has enriched Alberta with his compassionate care, outstanding skills and his drive to attract the best neurosurgeons and neurologists to his home province. Albertans now have access to top-notch neurological treatments and surgeries, thanks in part to his lifelong passion and dedication to improving the lives of patients and families. Thank you, Dr. Aronyk, for saving the lives of Albertans, young and old, and continuing to mentor a new generation of neurosurgeons.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“As a mentor for me, Dr. Keith Aronyk embodies the grace, respect and humility of our profession. His commitment to patient care is unrivalled in today’s health-care system. His bond with his patients is lifelong, both in their eyes and in his. He has been there for his patients, regardless of the circumstance or the time of day.”

Dr. B. Matt Wheatley, neurosurgeon, zone clinical department head, neurosciences, Alberta Health Services

“Dr. Aronyk’s outstanding contributions, extraordinary efforts and dedication to his patients has been unsurpassable. Patients consider him to be a trusted hero and fellow colleagues provide stories of leadership, inclusion and selflessness. His compassion and generosity extends beyond hospital walls; he spends time recycling old and discarded medical equipment and donates them to surgeons in countries including Ukraine, Jamaica and Cameroon.”

Dr. Greg Bowden, neurosurgeon and assistant professor, faculty of medicine and dentistry, University of Alberta

During his tenure as the clinical department head of neurosciences at the University of Alberta Hospital, Dr. Aronyk was instrumental in bringing some of the best doctors and technology in the world to create a centre of excellence for brain care. This improved treatments for conditions including brain injuries and tumors, stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Together with the University Hospital Foundation, Dr. Aronyk helped fundraise $70 million to introduce state-of-the art care at the Brain Centre, such as the first stroke ambulance in Canada. The Brain Centre also includes the Gamma Knife radiosurgery unit where the medical team uses highly targeted radiation to treat patients with brain tumours and other conditions. This technology in many cases eliminates the need for traditional surgery and allows patients to resume normal activities almost immediately.

“I cannot imagine a better recipient for the inaugural Dr. B. R. Peter Allen Lifetime Achievement in Health Award than Dr. Keith Aronyk. The driving force behind the University Hospital Foundation’s very successful Brain Centre Campaign, Dr. Aronyk’s vision, commitment and perseverance is directly responsible for bringing the best in brain care to Alberta. On behalf of the University Hospital Foundation, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Keith Aronyk on this monumental recognition.”

Jodi L. Abbott, president and CEO, University Hospital Foundation

New innovation award in health

Alberta Health is creating a new Dr. William Cochrane Health System Innovation Award to recognize the significant contributions Albertans are making to transform the health-care system and improve patient outcomes through innovation. Nominations are expected to open in November.

Eligible nominees can be currently working in clinical, research and business fields on significant innovations including product development such as a device, medication or software, and service or process innovation.

Quick facts

  • Dr. Keith Aronyk is currently a clinical professor at the University of Alberta department of surgery and continues to perform procedures at the Gamma Knife Centre.
  • Born in Wetaskiwin, Dr. Aronyk graduated from the University of Alberta faculty of medicine in 1977. He was inspired by the late Dr. Peter Allen to specialize in neurosurgery.
  • The Alberta Health award is named after Dr. Allen, a distinguished Alberta neurosurgeon who spent four decades mastering techniques in the operating room and building rapport with patients and co-workers.
  • A selection panel of health-care leaders and experts, including a representative from Dr. Allen’s family, created a short list of three top candidates for the health minister to make the final selection.
  • Nominations for the next lifetime achievement award in health is expected to open in fall 2023.
  • Alberta’s government committed a total of $81 million towards the completion of the Brain Centre neurosciences intensive care unit project, with the University Hospital Foundation contributing $17 million.