From a young age, Ginetta Salvalaggio was taught to question the status quo.
“When I’m asked why I’ve gone into this line of work, I have to give kudos to my mother,” explains Salvalaggio. “She taught me to challenge assumptions and drive change from within organizations. Asking questions keeps us healthy as a population.”
Salvalaggio earned her medical degree from the University of Alberta in 1999, completing her residency in family medicine in 2001. In 2008, Salvalaggio graduated with her master of science degree in population health from the School of Public Health.
“I have been interested in disadvantaged populations for a long time,” says Salvalaggio. “I realized while working as an outreach physician with the Streetworks harm reduction program that I could have a greater impact on the inner-city community if I engaged more formally in research.”
Salvalaggio subsequently enrolled in the master of science program in population health at the School of Public Health to acquire the research skills she would need to answer questions relevant to the inner-city community. Her thesis was a mixed methods study exploring the determinants of patient-provider rapport in the health care of people who inject drugs. She joined the faculty of the University of Alberta Department of Family Medicine while completing her thesis.
Salvalaggio is currently serving as the research director of the Inner City Health and Wellness Program (ICHWP) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Here, she is leading the development of the research program, which includes evaluating whether the work of the clinical team positively affects health outcomes. A community-engaged approach to research, often considered challenging in terms of methodology and logistics, will help develop the vision for inner-city health research in Edmonton.
For Salvalaggio, the challenge is paying off.
“Through our work at ICHWP, we are seeing many successes,” explains Salvalaggio. “We are seeing various stakeholders communicating and speaking from the same playbook. We are seeing partnerships that are being established that, normally, we wouldn’t see before. On the data side, we are able to link together data sets that have been fiendishly difficult to link from the health sector and social sector. Ultimately, we are trusting this will contribute to better health for inner-city residents.”
“It’s nice to stop documenting the problems and be able to start looking at potential solutions.”
(Last updated November, 2015)