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Above and Beyond: Physician Leaders

Our province has no shortage of notable physicians – both historical and modern-day. Here are a few of the doctors who are currently making significant contributions to health care in Nova Scotia.

Dr. David Martell

Dr. Martell is a family physician based in Lunenburg, N.S., who is working to revolutionize the way people with opioid use disorders (OUD) receive treatment. Whereas most patients with OUD are referred to special treatment programs, Dr. Martell now treats patients with OUD as part of his practice. “A combination of medication and counselling is something I can do with support from the local addictions/mental health clinic,” he says.

“It’s important to take care of people where they live,” he says. “I have heard of patients finally working up the nerve to ask for help and then hearing that it’s a six-month wait – or more – to get treatment. Many of them just give up. Being able to get help from your family physician could make all the difference.”

Dr. Monika Dutt

Dr. Monika Dutt is a family physician in Sydney, N.S., who works to promote public health and preventative medicine. She’s the co-founder and chair of the Nova Scotia branch of Health Providers Against Poverty, a national alliance of healthcare providers that raises awareness of the negative impact of poverty on patients and looks toward practical and reliable solutions. Dr. Dutt recently wrapped up a term as Medical Officer of Health for Cape Breton, Antigonish and Guysborough, where her public health practice focused on issues including housing, climate change and outbreak management. Her work as a family physician in Wagmatcook First Nation and other Cape Breton communities links broader policy areas to the experience of seeing patients daily. “The combination allows for a medical practice that can have both population and individual impacts,” she says.

Dr. Alexa Bagnell

Dr. Alexa Bagnell heads the division of child/adolescent psychiatry at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. She has been involved in several mental health literacy initiatives and programs to bring mental health information, skills and tools to youth and educators in schools. “Clinically, I love collaborating with others to build programs that are evidence based, sustainable, and that help youth with mental health problems,” she says. “Distance-based programs – via the Internet and telephone – are particularly exciting in increasing access for those that do not have these services close to where they live, or have very long waits for the service.”

Dr. Colin Van Zoost

Dr. Van Zoost is the president of Walk in Our Shoes (WiOS), a not-for-profit organization that provides free foot care and footwear to homeless people in Halifax. Working in conjunction with the weekly community supper at St. Andrew’s Church, WiOS distributes hundreds of pairs of socks and shoes each month, as well as providing foot care and screening for diabetes and hypertension – common health issues in the homeless that also contribute to foot disease. Ongoing health promotion initiatives include vaccination programs, education about alcohol consumption and promoting good nutrition.

Is your physician a health-care leader? Share your story in the comment section below.

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