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news News Wednesday, June 5, 2019 Friday, May 31, 2019 9:38 AM - Friday, May 31, 2019 9:38 AM

A visionary donation to create MUSCO

Mrs. Mirella Saputo answers questions about why her foundation is making the largest contribution in its history to create MUSCO

A visionary donation to create MUSCO

An exceptional and visionary $10 million donation from the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation is behind MUSCO: the largest collaborative project in Canada to help children with musculoskeletal disorders. This gift allows Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada, the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and CHU Sainte-Justine and its Marie-Enfant Rehabilitation Centre to transform the care and services offered to children with musculoskeletal diseases requiring complex care, and their families.

This gift is the largest contribution the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation has ever made. Mr. and Mrs. Saputo have been partners and leaders in the MUSCO project, encouraging all four institutions to work together and to involve patients and their families in the process. We are very grateful for their generosity.

We asked Mrs. Mirella Saputo a few questions about why she and her husband decided to make such a commitment to MUSCO.

Question 1: This donation is the most significant in the history of the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation. What motivated you to make such an exceptional commitment to help children with musculoskeletal disorders and their families?

Answer: Since the 1980s, we have supported various causes to help children living with a disability. At the very beginning, we organized different activities to offer these children and their families some much needed fun, for example, a special day that let them forget their problems. We still support initiatives like this, but we think it’s time to support large projects using a collaborative approach.

Question 2: With your donation, you are bringing four leading health care institutions to collaborate in a common vision for the future of children and their families in Quebec. Why, in your opinion, is this inter-institutional collaboration essential?

Answer: We believe that inter-institutional collaboration will be what enables us to reach a greater number of people and, especially, ensure a better experience for patients and their families.

Parents of children with complex musculoskeletal disorders must often navigate between institutions and can sometimes feel alone or even ill-equipped, given the complexity of the care process. By bringing everyone around the same table, we want to show that inter-institutional collaboration not only works, but should be encouraged and promoted in other sectors.

Question 3: How will this inter-institutional collaboration through MUSCO make a difference and improve the quality of life of children and their families?

Answer: Children with complicated musculoskeletal issues are often followed at several hospitals or centres and are seen by a variety of experts, as each institution has its own expertise and equipment.

MUSCO involves a number of concrete measures to help these patients and their families. For example, MUSCO will bring all the right people together to re-evaluate the procedures and tools to facilitate a patient’s trajectory through the four involved institutions, and to improve the patient experience. In addition, we have just recruited a patient navigator to accompany patients and their families, ensuring they receive the right care, at the right time and at the right place. MUSCO will also support building infrastructure and buying state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology, enabling patients in our system access to the best and latest care and diagnostic techniques. These are examples of some of the initiatives. But I want to highlight something else that’s special about MUSCO, and what is very important to us: that this initiative includes patients and families as partners.

Question 4: Family is at the heart of your business and of the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation. How have your philanthropic values been handed down through the generations, and how do you ensure they will be transmitted to future generations?

Answer: Our family values are at the heart of all our actions. Our Foundation team is still very small; it is currently like an extension of our own family. When we evaluate a project, we always put the people we want to help at the center of our decision-making. We want to find and implement the solutions with them, making sure they not only have a say in the projects, but are able to benefit from the outcomes.

Question 5: Do you hope to be a model to encourage other large families or businesses like yours to become involved in a transformational gift?

Answer: We are open to any discussion that would contemplate a partnership. We also intend to meet with other foundations to show them how collaborations can work and share what we have learned with them.

Question 6: What inspires you in particular?

Answer: First of all, we are inspired by the people we help, disabled children and their parents, relatives helping the elderly or immigrants who come to Quebec and want to build a better future. We are also inspired by innovation in all its forms but, in particular, by ideas that tackle current problems with long-lasting solutions.

Question 7: You have become a real reference for philanthropic and community commitment in Quebec. In your opinion, how will philanthropy continue to impact innovation in pediatric health and, on a broader level, in our societies?

Answer: I do not know if we are a reference. What is important to us is to remain grounded and make a concrete difference in the lives of patients and their families.

Mrs. Saputo, thank you very much for your time – and thank you for helping us create MUSCO!