I like to paint a picture of the whole person – not just their
disease or the issue that brought them to the emergency
room that day
You were city-born and raised – what
made you decide to move to northern
To be honest, I always wanted to work in
‘cottage country’. My mom was a teacher
who taught in a four-room school house in
Unionville, which was more or less a rural
area in those days. I would often visit her and
hang out with her students on their farms.
I loved it. After my medical training, I took
advantage of a government initiative that let
me tour the medical environments in several
northern, underserviced communities in the
province. You colleagues say you humanize
patients when describing their care or
sharing information. Why is that impor-
tant to you?
It’s true, when I hand over a patient’s care to a
colleague, I like to paint a picture of the whole
person – not just their disease or the issue that
brought them to the emergency room that day.
It’s a small community, and it is very rare for
me to see a patient I don’t know; so it is easy
to know the little facts and stories that make
them who they are. And I think it is impor-
tant for all of us in the care circle to recognize
patients as people – sometimes you need the
personal context to effectively treat the disease.
I also take the time to really chat with pa-
tients and explain everything to them. Patient
education is important – once the patient
has all the information and understanding, it
makes it easier for them to handle treatment
and their situation.
How did you end up choosing Kirkland
Lake as the place to settle down?
That’s a funny story. As I said, I visited a
bunch of places in the north during my tour,
one of which was Kirkland Lake. The medi-
cal community was extremely welcoming and
I could tell it was a place where people took
care of each other. I bought a house in the area
before I was even offered a position! Luckily,
at the same time, the physician responsible for
running the Kirkland Lake emergency room
resigned, so I was asked to take over working
in the emergency department and doing the
schedule. I said “yes”, and I’ve been doing it for
29 years now. What are the important considerations
when looking for physicians to join your
Well, in general, all small communities are
terribly underserviced, and most specialists
are welcomed with open arms. But at the end
of the day, I want to improve the health-care
service we provide in every corner of Kirkland
Lake. The best physicians for our community
see what I saw when I arrived here 29 years
ago: a medical community full of camaraderie
and support that is just incredible. People who
come here form friendships and work hard.
We attract like-minded people and the right
ones tend to stay.
other career options, I thought about my inter-
ests and academic focus (biology and neurosci-
ence) – but I also really wanted to pick a career
that would not be boring, that would keep my
interest for a long time. Human interaction, as
any physician will tell you, is never boring!
ISSUE 3, 2019 DIALOGUE