TELUS Friendly Future Foundation Invests in Long-term Health with Gift to HSC Foundation

January 12, 2021

Support of PPE helps fight against COVID-19

It is safe to say that PPE will be among the most-searched Google terms of 2020. It is on the forefront of our thoughts and at the tip of everyone’s tongues—especially those of frontline health care workers.

This past spring, between performing trauma surgeries on Health Sciences Centre’s plastic surgery ward and fulfilling the role of program director for University of Manitoba’s plastic surgery residency program, Dr. Christian Petropolis and Dr. William Turk designed a silicone N95-like mask to help protect fellow frontline health care professionals as they battle the global pandemic.

“My role as a doctor doesn’t include building masks, but I saw the need as Manitoba endured the first wave of COVID-19,” says Dr. Petropolis. “I have a company that does similar design work and we have used silicone in the past—I felt that silicone would work in this instance as well.”

L-R: Dr. Christian Petropolis, Plastic Surgeon, HSC Winnipeg; Dr. Petropolis’s silicone mask.

Dr. Petropolis was right. His silicone mask is reusable and can be cleaned by hand, which means they can be cleaned right on the ward. Currently, there are no other masks that are designed to be taken off and easily cleaned repeatedly. “When well taken care of, this mask will last you for years,” says Dr. Petropolis.

Behind every innovative solution is an innovator; and behind every innovator is a believer. In Dr. Petropolis’s case, his believer was the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation. This foundation, which builds healthier communities, pivoted to supporting public health initiatives across Canada and stepped up in the early days of the pandemic’s province-wide infiltration to support Dr. Petropolis’s work.

“During this unprecedented public health emergency, we are especially focused on supporting our communities and enabling urgent funding where it is needed most,” says Shanan Spencer-Brown, TELUS Friendly Future Foundation Executive Director. “Supporting research and development is one of the ways we are helping organizations across Canada in the fight against COVID-19.”

Dr. Petropolis’s masks come in small, medium, and large sizes.

“I am grateful that TELUS Friendly Future Foundation had the insight to support the unconventional with this mask. With their donation, they helped with the implementation of a unique solution at a time of great need. Research and development in the area of medical devices is not well funded in Canada, and it is great to have a group that supports bold ideas, innovators, and our future,” says Dr. Petropolis.