U of A professor awarded the Order of Canada

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti was awarded the Order of Canada due to his contributions to the field of injury prevention.

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a professor at the University of Alberta, has recently received the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada honours and recognizes extraordinary contributions to Canada. Dr. Francescutti is a professor in the School of Public Health who conducts research on injury prevention. 

Dr. Francescutti began his career as a surgeon before realizing that he could make more of a difference in injury prevention. “Prevention is always a far better cure for a disease or trauma than treatment is,” Dr. Francescutti said. 

“The only treatment for trauma is its prevention,” Dr. Francescutti says

Throughout the course of his career, Dr. Francescutti has made many contributions to the field of preventative medicine. One of which is developing HEROES, an injury prevention program designed for teenagers. 

Dr. Francescutti described HEROES as a “rock-and-roll show” that would travel to schools all across the country. It was unique because it allowed survivors of injury prevention to share their stories with teenagers. 

“That was something that we made out of nothing. [It] had an impact on the lives of so many young people,” Dr. Francescutti said. “That was my first real big project. I still remember it to this day because it was so exciting.”

More recently, Dr. Francescutti has begun working to make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness. The Bridge Healing Program is a project dedicated to reducing homelessness in Canada. This program provides a place to stay and other services to homeless people that end up in emergency departments. 

The program currently has 36 beds. However, Dr. Francescutti estimates they will need at least 500 beds available to make a larger impact because of high demand.

The ultimate goal is that “no patient [that] ever finds themself homeless in a health care facility would ever be discharged back into homelessness,” Dr. Francescutti said. 

In addition to his work with Canada’s youth and homeless population, he has also influenced larger scale changes. He was “instrumental in getting helmets on kids’ heads when they’re cycling [and] seatbelt legislation,” he said.

Advocating for others is the most meaningful contribution he has made, Dr. Francescutti said.

“That’s the greatest honour, to speak on behalf of those who unfortunately don’t have their own voice.” 

Dr. Francescutti being offered the Order of Canada is “humbling”

Dr. Francescutti describes receiving the Order of Canada as “very humbling, to say the least.” He stressed the importance of sharing this victory with the people he has worked with throughout his career. 

“You get to take the credit for the work that a lot of people have done and the support of your family and friends. So I try [to] make sure that folks I’ve worked with know that we’re sharing this together.”  

Dr. Francescutti plans to continue working with homeless people in the coming years, although he plans to shift his focus from injury prevention to loneliness. He asserted that many Albertans and Canadians feel lonely on a day-to-day basis, affecting physical and mental health. 

“Being lonely is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of the adverse impact on your health. So there are health [and] emotional consequences.” 

Peris Jones

Peris Jones is the 2023-24 Deputy News Editor at The Gateway. She is in her third year, studying Media Studies and English. In her free time, she loves going to the gym, shopping, and watching movies with her friends.

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