Inheriting Genes, but Mostly the Love of Helping Others

Richard and Satoko Ingram have been involved with the Montreal General Hospital Foundation for over 20 years, around the time when Richard sold his document storage company which serviced most of the hospitals in Montreal.

“I had everything I needed so the only thing to do was to share the rest of what I had with those who needed it,” explains Ingram. “I had worked with various institutions in the healthcare community throughout my career. So I had an interest in the field and a certain sensitivity to the many, glaring needs that had to be addressed. ”

For this reason, the Ingrams’ philanthropic activities have centered primarily on the healthcare field, with a main focus on nursing.

“Nurses play pivotal roles with patients, but also within medical teams,” notes Mrs. Ingram. “Their work doesn’t always get appropriate visibility, recognition or funding and we want to change that. It is important to us that nursing education centres be properly equipped, that nursing excellence be recognized within our hospitals, and that funding be available for those who wish to undertake research projects.

The Ingrams prioritize education and prevention because it makes sense – money invested in prevention reduces hospitalizations, costs and the impact on the healthcare system and also reduces accidents, suffering and death.

The Satoko Shibata Family Heart Centre

The mission of the Family Heart Centre, bearing Mrs. Ingram’s maiden name, Satoko Shibata, falls right in line with Ingram priorities. Here, multidisciplinary teams conduct genetic testing to understand why some people develop heart problems at a young age or without showing any of the usual symptoms. The ultimate goal is to then test the entire family for specific genetic conditions and possibly prevent other family members from experiencing life-threatening cardiovascular events.

“The idea behind the Family Heart Centre is brilliant.” notes Ingram. “And then this project came along at a time when we were particularly affected by the cause, as I had just undergone triple bypass surgery, from which I thankfully recovered, thanks to the good care of the teams at the MGH.”

“We strongly believe in the power of prevention and the importance of collaboration between different groups, and this new space allows for exactly that,” adds Shibata-Ingram. “We are pleased to have been able to support such an initiative that facilitates an interdisciplinary approach.”

Sharing not only resources, but also knowledge

This importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing is something the Ingrams have also stressed for several years. This is why they have chosen to support exchange programs and scholarships that allow Japanese surgeons to come to Montreal to further their training in surgical education and return to Japan with new knowledge.

When asked where they got this desire to give back, Mr. Ingram says he inherited it from his father, a man who was always involved in his community and died too young, at the age of 53, of a heart attack. With a smile in his voice, he adds that he inherited from his father not only his heart condition, but more importantly, his love of philanthropy.