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York appoints new associate medical officers of health

York Region’s two new associate medical officers of health will play a key role in re-establishing programs that were suspended or reduced amid the pandemic.

Both Dr. Shixin (Cindy) Shen and Dr. JoAnne Fernandes worked at York Region as public health physicians in support of the COVID-19 pandemic response before being appointed to the new positions.

Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, associate medical officer of health positions increase the region’s capacity to effectively respond to emerging diseases, outbreaks, infection control lapses and provide direction in the management of infectious diseases. These positions were approved by the Minister of Health on November 10.

Dr. JoAnne Fernandes

Shen previously worked as a medical advisor at the Public Health Agency of Canada, Regional Medical Officer of Health for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and as a consultant for the World Health Organization. 

Fernandes has worked at York Region as a Public Health Physician since July 2020 and has provided support to the Public Health pandemic response. With recent work experience as a Public Health Physician, she previously worked at Region of Peel Public Health as an Epidemiologist in 2012.

“We are eager to re-establish important public health programs in the areas of health promotion, disease prevention and health protection that have been suspended or reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Richard Gould, York’s Acting Medical Officer of Health. “Our Associates have a large role to play in both this work and our ongoing COVID-19 response.”

Dr. Karim Kurji retired as York’s medical officer of health on September 30. He joined York Region Public Health in 2005 as associate medical officer of health and was soon appointed to the top position. The Region is currently recruiting for his replacement.

Photos of Dr. Shixin (Cindy) Shen (top) and Dr. JoAnne Fernandes (inset) courtesy of York Region.

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