Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner April 9, 2020
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra of Peterborough Public Health has been providing daily COVID-19 updates in Peterborough. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/EXAMINER
There's another tale yet to be told in this pandemic that we are suffering through. Of 14 provincial and federal medical officers of health across Canada, seven are women.
They are now becoming well-recognized, widely consulted and trusted. Their calm presence and clear presentation of information are having a big impact, especially on young women and little girls, who are noticing.
The medical officers are talking at daily media briefings with poise, sound data, and, in some cases undisguised feelings of compassion. The political leaders are wisely giving pride of place to the officers. In the case of the prime minister, already showing strong leadership, he is happy to give the lead to Dr. Theresa Tam, the Hong Kong- born, British-trained chief medical officer for Canada who is, according to one Canadian writer, "steely and authentic." Another woman making a strong impression is Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, who was once a shelter worker in Thunder Bay.
Contrasts are impossible to ignore, and we see with distress the bombast and weird musings of the president of the U.S., whose team doesn't even attempt to show the social distance he advocates, and whose spokespersons, except for Dr. Fauci, do not inspire confidence.
In Toronto, medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa is one of these leading women. Though ordinarily dead serious about our situation, De Villa also is having a bit of online fun with Raptor basketball player Serge Ibaka, about their stylish scarves. A bit of levity is welcome these days too.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, and in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry, who wept with compassion as she announced deaths in long-term care homes. My daughter-in-law on Vancouver Island tells me there are wrist bands going around with "WWBHD" on them. That stands for "What Would Bonnie Henry Do?"
In Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw adopts a "Dr. Spock-like tone" says one journalist, and she has worn a dress patterned with chemistry's periodic table. Many of us considered Dr. Benjamin Spock our child care guru in the 1960s. In New Brunswick, Dr. Jennifer Russell leads the fight. Everyone trusts veteran epidemiologist Dr. Alison McGeer, who took us through SARS 18 years ago and speaks authoritatively on radio. In Peterborough Dr. Rosana Salvaterra conducts fact-filled daily briefings. She is in the eye of the local storm day after day. Last week, my neighbours sent her an African violet.
A clothing company in Calgary, Madame Premier Clothing, designs and produces T-shirts honouring the women, the first with the faces of Hinshaw, Henry, De Villa and Tam. They sell 1,200 a day.
Dr. Heather Morrison, medical officer for P.E.I., has a cow named after her. She is flattered, she says, and happy with the attention to her work.
Fifty-five per cent of new students into medicine are women, but their proportion is not reflected in leadership roles. There is a gender gap in medicine, with almost no women deans of medical schools or CEOs of hospitals. A welcome exception soon to come is the appointment of Dr. Jane Philpott, former federal health minister as Dean of Health Sciences at Queen's University in September. Continue Reading >HERE<
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