Family Medicine Matters Blog

The OCFP Blog discusses current topics and invites members to share their perspectives and ideas, and engage in a dialogue.

My family doctor deserves a hero award

May 1, 2016

There it was in my inbox – an email from a woman that I have never met, but took the time to track down the email for the OCFP’s President so she could tell someone how much she values her family doctor.

I read her email with growing admiration and gratitude for a family physician who has clearly been a gift in the lives of three generations of her family. Her email read:

I am a patient of Dr. Kirsh in Agincourt, Ont. I have been a patient for 45 years. My brothers are patients. My three children are his patients. And my father who passed away last year was also a long-time patient. 

My question is - how can my family acknowledge Dr. Kirsh’s incredible medical care throughout the years? I have never had to wait for any of our appointments, he is always on time. He has diagnosed conditions in members of my family from diabetes to sarcoid, autism to heart attack, kidney disease to stroke. Many times when my dad’s blood would come back with too much potassium, or his medication needed adjusting, Dr. Kirsh would track me down - calling my home and then cell...many times, even on the weekend to let me know what to do.

My dad said Dr. Kirsh treated us special because we were one of his first families. I explained to my dad that he may think we are special, but Doc Kirsh treats all his patients with the same kindness, care and dedication. I know that to be true.

I always thank Doc Kirsh in writing each Christmas. When I listen to all the negative talk about our health-care system I just thank my lucky charms that my doctor is Dr. Kirsh. I thought someone should know.

It is said that one person speaking up represents 100 people who feel the same way but have not taken the time to share their perspective. If that is the case, then Dr. Kirsh is much loved indeed!

May 1 is Ontario Doctors’ Day, a day that celebrates the work of doctors throughout the province. On this day, may we be inspired by physicians like Dr. Kirsh, who provide remarkable examples of delivering excellent and timely clinical care to patients, commitment to comprehensive care over time, and dedication to service grounded in their communities. May we also be reminded of the importance of our relationships with patients, which are not merely about the care we deliver over the years, but are in themselves, part of what nurtures each of us.

Many thanks Dr. Kirsh. I am proud to know that you are a colleague in family medicine.

How will you celebrate Ontario Doctors' Day?

Dr. Sarah-Lynn Newbery is the 2015-16 President of the OCFP. SheDr. S Newbery, 2015-16 President is the Chief of Staff at Wilson Memorial General Hospital and works in primary care with the Marathon Family Health Team.



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  1. Sarah Newbery | May 03, 2016

    I agree Jennifer... we have people who move to Marathon whose most important question is how they will be cared for having given up their family doctor in another setting.  The relationship is a really important one!

    And Francine, I think it is important for us to define what we mean by both comprehensiveness and continuity.  As we see the rise of complex and chronic illness, it can be hard for one provider to meet all of the needs, and there is value in having all providers work to the top end of their scope of practice.  The tension then is in the notion of relational continuity with one provider vs. team and information continuity within the "patient medical home".    Certainly what I think patients like those of Dr. Kirsh value most highly is the opportunity to have their care needs met within the context of the relationship with their family doctor. 

    I think that it is a critically important conversation for the CFPC to be having, and the OCFP by extension, with our membership.

  2. Francine Lemire | May 01, 2016

    Wonderful story, thank you Sarah! It speaks to the special relationship that develops over time, when a family doctor is ready to help with any problem, big or small, and be prepared to do it over time. Looking after after 3 generations in the same family is pretty special too.

    Should we think about "comprehensiveness" of care any differently in 2016? Should we think about "continuity " of care any differently in 2016?

  3. Jennifer Young | May 01, 2016
    I am now the doctor for a woman who has moved from Marathon, and Dr. Newbery was her physician there.  She said that one of the reasons she hesitated leaving her community was that she would lose Dr. Newbery as her family doctor - this speaks volumes to the impact that family doctors can have on people and the security it affords a person as they go through life.  

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