This May is a celebration of sorts for Dr. Jennifer Leavitt, one of 10 family doctors (two are locums) at the St. Paul’s Maternity Clinic.
This month, the outpatient clinic within the hospital marks four years of caring for low- or moderate-risk women during their pregnancies, at the birth and up to six weeks post-partum. It accepts women with or without family doctors, including new Canadians, refugees or those from marginalized neighbourhoods who may struggle to receive continuous prenatal care.
On this BC Family Doctor Day, Dr. Leavitt is particularly proud of the wrap-around care she and her other family-doctor colleagues have provided to women since the clinic opened in 2018.
“We offer whole-person, wrap-around care with plenty of collaboration with hospital maternity nurses, pediatricians, obstetricians and other specialists” (including addictions medicine doctors for women with perinatal substance use),” says Dr. Leavitt.
Dr. Leavitt is just one of approximately 300 members of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care. Their practices encompass a broad range of medical care, including traditional family practice, palliative care, eldercare and long-term care, HIV/AIDS, addiction medicine, obstetrics and more. Meet a few of the family physicians who work within this department.
Dr. Eileen Wong
Family practice area: Geriatrics: rehabilitation and long-term care
Length of time at PHC: 25+ years
What do you love most about family medicine? The challenge of meeting patients and families where they are at and helping them navigate through difficult situations while not losing one’s compassion and care; this is a skill.
What are some misconceptions about family medicine? Family medicine is a specialty. We are specialists in general medicine and see the whole spectrum of patient care from cradle to grave.
Dr. Fraser Norrie
Family practice area: Spectrum Health
Length of time at PHC: Started doing locums at St. Paul’s in 1989. Joined Providence medical staff in the early 1990s. Was on the St. Paul’s Family Practice Residency Committee for many years.
What do you love most about family medicine? I love the variety of family medicine. You never quite know what the day is going to bring. It keeps work interesting. I also love the longitudinal relationship we get to have with patients over years and years.
What are some misconceptions about family medicine? Some misconceptions include the idea that family doctors are just referral sources to specialists: “the gate keepers.“ I truly believe it is a very privileged job we have and I wouldn’t do anything else.
Dr. Terry Chang
Family practice area: Broadway Plaza Family Practice
Length of time at PHC: Started at PHC in 1985/86, so 37 yrs
What do you love most about family medicine? I love taking care of two, three and four generations of families and working with the amazing physicians and medical office assistants in our office.
What are some misconceptions about family medicine? That family physicians take care of the most common and simple patient problems. In fact, family physicians are skilled diagnosticians, trusted counselors, strong advocates, and dedicated doctors who provide true lifelong continuity of care with all the complexity, joys and challenges that arise from the first sunrise to the final sunset of our patients.
Dr. Jennifer Leavitt
Family practice area: St. Paul’s Maternity Clinic and Pender Community Health Centre
Length of time at PHC: Since starting residency in 2014
What do you love most about family medicine? I love making a connection with my patients and following through their lives’ joys (especially pregnancy/birth) and focusing on psychosocial wellness. I love the variety of every day. I love learning the breadth of family medicine and that no topic is irrelevant.
What are some misconceptions about family medicine? That we aren’t specialists. We’re usually the one that knows the patient best and we are also specialists at undifferentiated presentations.