High 5 for Us!!

Tuesday at ISQua started with an interesting plenary session discussing healthcare quality reform initiatives in Colombia and Brazil. Next up were the ISQua Accreditation Awards where the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta was one of ~10 organizations acknowledged in the session. Liz and I were very proud to receive this validation of our laboratory standards.

During the day, we attended some very interesting presentations in the accreditation track and toured the exhibit area.

While we were at the conference, Harvey and Glen wandered around Barra, checking out cars and other sites.

We met up with the boys and headed to Ipanema Beach where we stopped at a few shops and then had a bite to eat at the Devassa Grill.

The beach at Ipanema is similar to Copacabana – wide with lots of white sand and people enjoying the sun.

We watched the sunset while enjoying caipirinhas and cervejas and then returned to Barra where we stopped in next door at Fratellis for a late night snack!


B&H, L&G

Not that Village Mall

The conference official opening was held on Monday morning, followed by the morning plenary sessions. These sessions, as well as some of the others we attended later in the day, focused on the effects of accreditation programs on patient safety. There were also some interesting discussions on the use of health information technology.

When our conference day ended, we decided it was time to visit Cristo Redenter. While waiting for our turn to ascend the mountain, we visited a beautiful church that was just across the street.

You reach Cristo Redenter by way of a steep cog-train ride. This journey takes you through Rio’s tropical rainforest.

Cristo Redenter, the 710 m open-armed saviour, has stood at the top of Corvocado Mountain since 1931. The statue is a remarkable work of artistry, dominating its position high above Rio.

The other amazing aspect at the top of Corvocado is the panoramic view of tropical rainforest, beaches, ocean, islands and mountain peaks, as well as the metropolis of Rio.

After admiring the statue and views, and taking many,many photographs, we took enjoyed the view with light refreshments.

Returning to the hotel, we had a quick break and joined our ISQua colleagues on buses headed for the Networking Reception at the Village Mall. Contrasting our visit to Cristo Redenter, this evening was quite under-whelming – at times on the verge of an epic fail.

The bus ride was to take 20-30 minutes; in reality, the trip took 1.75 hours. We think perhaps the trial run had been done on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, rather than in Rio rush hour traffic. Arriving at the venue, already cranky, we were expecting something special – it was advertised at a “traditional Brazilian evening” and the tickets had been fairly pricey. In actuality, the venue was a large reception room in a mall (albeit a very upscale mall). The food consisted of small canapés, passed by waiters; the caipirinhas and wine were good, and well needed by this point.

The band played typical reception-type music, breaking into what might be called typical Brazilian only for a couple of numbers where Samba dancers were briefly featured.

In the end, we felt that the whole event, as it was, could have easily taken place at the hotel – or an actual “traditional Brazilian evening” could have been better searched out and presented. Hopefully, the ISQua conference organizers will learn some lessons from this.

By the way, the bus ride back to the hotel took 12 minutes!

We ended the evening with a nightcap in the bar, and determined the day was quite enjoyable, despite the misadventures of the evening.


B&H, L&G

OMG – I have the meat sweats….

Welcome to ISQua 2014!

Today was the pre-conference day. Liz and I were up early and had a good breakfast, with our husbands, before picking up our registration packages and heading off for the day of accreditation topics. It was an interesting day. We picked up some good pointers for our practice. Also, we felt that the presentations and group discussions provided us with validation that what we have been doing with standard development and assessment processes is very much on the right track!

We connected with some acquaintances from Canada and the AABB and made some new friends from those with whom we interacted. An excellent start to the conference.

When the day ended, we returned to the hotel to find that Harvey & Glen were missing in action. Not letting that slow us down, we headed across the street to a beach kiosk. While we were enjoying our caipirinhas, the boys came wandering down the street. They had spent several hours walking around Barra de Tijuca and feel like they know the neighbourhood quite well.

For dinner, we headed out on foot to the area we had visited last night.

First we stopped for drinks on a nice patio bar. We were entertained by a singing cab driver on the sidewalk.

We continued walking to a Brazilian Grill that had been recommended to us – the Barra Grill! It was a fabulous experience! All of the food and wine was excellent – the appetizers, the salad bar and the overwhelming amount and variety of meats that were brought around. A Brazilian grill is a great experience – and to experience one in Brazil was amazing!

We walked home from the restaurant, next to the beach. It was a lovely evening and we certainly needed some time to digest! The sidewalks in Rio are quite delightful.


B&H, L&G

What’s your name? Harvey. Oh sh*t!

Our first full day in Rio was great!!

Glen had arrived late last night, after a direct flight from Dallas to Rio and a quick trip through customs.

We started the day with a fabulous buffet breakfast that is included in our hotel rate. The variety was wonderful.

Then we hopped in a taxi and made our way to Copacabana. Yes, in the words of Barry Manilow – the hottest spot south of Havana!

The beach was great – long and wide; warm, white sand; waves crashing in. We wandered up and down the beach, enjoying the scenery. The beach wasn’t crowded and despite all of the warnings, we felt completely safe. The temperature was in the low to mid 20’s, which was perfect in the sun.

After some time in the sun, it was time for a beverage – caipirinhas for Liz and I and cervejas for the boys. We enjoyed the drinks, the sights and chatting with a great wandering vendor – named Mr Eddy (pronounced edgy) International. There was also some interesting ‘people’ watching – definitely all body types on this beach…..

We wandered through a market, scoping out some things we might buy later in the week. The renowned Copacabana Palace, made famous by the aforementioned Barry, still stands proudly across from the beach and we took a trip through, to soak up the opulence.

By this time, we needed more sustenance and visited another beach kiosk for more caipirinhas and cervejas, as well as delicious fish tacos. While relaxing, we watched a local beach soccer game. Also, beach volleyball with a soccer twist – they don’t use their hands, just heads, chests and feet.

Most of the people on the beach appeared to be locals, enjoying Saturday in the sand and surf.

After walking a bit more, and Liz and I getting somewhat wet from a rogue wave, we jumped in a cab and headed back to the hotel. The sun was just setting and we snapped a few pictures from the 17th floor deck.

There are only a couple of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, so we took a quick cab ride to a nearby restaurant and bar district. We walked for a while, perusing menus and atmosphere, and then picked a place we thought looked good. It was a great choice! We all shared a meal of beef tenderloin, cooked on a tableside grill. Accompanied by bacon, rice, fries, onions, tomatoes and broccoli, it was flavourful and fun! We finished off with just a touch of ice cream. 🙂

Back to the hotel for an early night – conference starts tomorrow.

A wonderful way to start our week in Rio!


B&H, L&G

On Our Way to Rio: I Want a Colorful Doughnut

We have embarked upon another adventure along our ‘long and winding journey’. We are heading to Rio de Janeiro!!

Once again, it is a very lucky happenstance that is taking us on this journey. My colleague (and friend) Liz and I are privileged to be attending the annual conference of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). At the meeting, the CPSA will be acknowledged for the ISQua accreditation of our laboratory standards, a project that Liz and I have laboured over for the last four years.

For obvious reasons, our husbands thought they should come along on this trip. Liz, Harvey and I travelled together – leaving Edmonton at 1 pm on Thursday for Toronto, where we had a 4 hour layover. We passed part of the time at Casey’s Bar & Grill, and at 11:30 pm, boarded an Air Canada 767 bound for São Paulo, Brazil. This 10.5 hour flight through the night was quite uneventful (as one hopes all flights are) and we all managed to get a bit of sleep.

In São Paulo, we passed quickly through customs – the Brazilian Policia Federal were very friendly. We had to claim our luggage and check in with Air GoLinhas. It was a smooth transition and we had time to wander around the airport and stop for a leisurely lunch.


Quick flight to Rio – about an hour.

Our luggage turned up quickly and we were easily able to get a ‘radio’ taxi. The cab ride to the hotel took about an hour, through heavy traffic. It was interesting to see the favelas (neighborhoods) on the hillsides. It looks like random boxes have been stacked upon one another for homes. Certainly, the first impression of Rio as you drive from the airport is of abject poverty.


We left these areas and arrived in Barra de Tijuca, a modern, upscale area along the beach, west of the tourist beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Our hotel seems very good – fairly large, clean and modern rooms.

After settling in, we took a few minutes to take in the view from the rooftop (17th floor) of the hotel.


Feeling quite weary, and not wanting to travel far in the dark, we went to the Italian restaurant that is right next door to the hotel. It was excellent, quite authentically Italian and with more staff than I think I have ever seen in one restaurant.

Our dinners were excellent – but alas, in our weariness, we forgot pictures until the very end….


During our layovers, we connected virtually with Liz’s husband, Glen. Glen is a pilot who was taking a different path to our destination. Originally, his journey was slated to be quicker, but Mother Nature didn’t agree. He ended up on a somewhat prolonged ‘stop along the way’ in Dallas, due to thunderstorms across the U.S. As our day ends, he is in an airplane somewhere between Dallas and Rio and is scheduled to arrive around 11 pm. We are hoping his journey to the hotel goes as smoothly as ours did.

So here we are – on another continent. We are looking forward to a great week. We aren’t sure how often we will have Internet access so will post blogs as we have a chance.


Bev, Harv and Liz