Family doctors recognized for ‘visionary leadership’

The organization that represents more than 15,000 family physicians across the province has recognized two Markham doctors for their community and medical leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Emilie Lam received the 2021 Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) Early Years Award, an honour that recognizes a family physician in their first 10 years of practice who has demonstrated exemplary dedication to family medicine and primary care in their practice and community. Dr. Allan Grill received the College of Family Physicians of Canada Award of Excellence, which recognizes family doctors who have made outstanding contributions in one or more areas of family medicine within the past 24 months.

“With visionary leadership and dedication, Dr. Lam and Dr. Grill have developed initiatives that have been instrumental in enhancing medical care for the citizens of Markham and the surrounding region,” says OCFP President Dr. Elizabeth Muggah.

Dr. Emilie Lam

Lam provides family medicine care at the Markham Medical Centre and Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH), part of Oak Valley Health. She co-founded the Evergreen Palliative Care Physician Team in 2013 and is the lead physician for the home palliative care program. By providing support in long-term care and other congregate settings during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team helped reduce emergency department visits and hospitalization days for end-of-life care patients.

At the onset of the pandemic, Lam was elected by colleagues as the Primary Care Lead for the Eastern York Region North Durham Ontario Health Team and supported family physicians by hosting education webinars, organizing the procurement of personal protective equipment, developed a COVID-19 assessment centre. She helped plan mass vaccinations in York Region and spearheaded MSH’s vaccination clinic at Cornell Community Centre, even working with community groups to ensure elderly parents could get a drive to local vaccination clinics. “During the past year, Dr. Lam never stopped advocating for her patients and marginalized community residents,” says Elena Pacheco, vice president, planning and transformation, Oak Valley Health.

Grill, Chief of Family Medicine at MSH and Lead Physician at the Markham Family Health Team, played a key role in launching a strategy for long-term care (LTC) homes and other congregate settings in Markham, bringing together family doctors, LTC, MSH and local public health unit partners in a targeted approach.

That included creating an infection prevention and control mobile team to provide education, training and support, COVID testing, environmental cleaning and outbreak management that proved instrumental in slowing the spread of the virus among these especially vulnerable groups. Grill also helped recruit physicians to relieve overworked colleagues at a LTC home in Brampton.

“At every corner, Dr. Grill has been there to support our community and hospital efforts,” says Cheryl Osborne, patient care director at MSH. “Now more than ever, we will lean on the structure and system integration that he has fostered so that we are able as a healthcare community to recover from this pandemic.”

Photos of Dr. Emilie Lam and Dr. Allan Grill courtesy of the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

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