Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 20, 2017

© MCpl Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall

Over 5600 people have been inducted in the Order of Canada; 396 of them, physicians.

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The highest honour

Meet three Order of Canada physicians

Since its creation in 1967, more than 5600 people have been invested into the Order of Canada. It recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, community dedication and service to this country. A total of 396 medical doctors hold this coveted award. Here is the story of three physicians who’ve made our nation’s top honour role.

Edward A. Lyons

OC, MD, FACR, FRCP(C)

One of the world’s leading experts in diagnostic ultrasound, Dr Edward Lyons helped make ultrasound one of the safest and most widely used non-invasive tools in medicine. Working alongside international equipment manufacturers, he’s been at the forefront of many advances in radiology for 40 years.

He’s a professor of radiology, obstetrics, gynecology and anatomy, and the former radiology department head at the University of Manitoba and Health Sciences Centre. He is currently president of the Canadian Association of Radiologists. Dr Lyons was awarded the Joseph Holmes Clinical Pioneer Award of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine in 2003.

Dr Lyons is also community minded. He’s the immediate past president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and past president of the congregation Shaarey Zedek synagogue. “My community work has been my hobby,” he admits. “I often learn more than I contribute.”

He was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 2007.

DR: How did you become a pioneer in ultrasound?
EL: In 1964, after my first year of medicine, my father, an obstetrician, told me about a research project. It was being conducted by Dr Mike Saunders, a neurologist, who had purchased a flaw detector that had been converted into an ultrasound machine. It was extremely rudimentary, but he thought it might have some value. For two summers, I was simply instructed to see if there was any potential or clinical value in it. You have to remember that, back then, virtually no one was doing ultrasound. A few years later, I did research in Scotland with Professor Ian Donald, the first doctor to work with obstetrical ultrasound. In short, I got involved in an emerging field at the ground level. After that, as the field exploded, I was asked to lecture all over the world. It truly was a wonderful ride.

DR: What was it like to be part of this new technology from the very beginning? EL: I had no idea this little box, with very little utility, would end up as a major imaging resource; ultimately changing the practice of many disciplines. In the early days, the imaging machines were the size of big refrigerators. Today, we have ultrasound machines the size of cell phones. I believe the new small ultrasound machines are ultimately going to replace stethoscopes. In the future, medical students will buy a pocket ultrasound machine instead of a stethoscope.

DR: Where were you when you learned of your OC appointment?
EL: My cell phone went off as I was touring a lighthouse at Cape Spear, Newfoundland with my wife, Harriet. At first, she wasn't terribly impressed that I answered a call. But, when I told her the news, she immediately started to cry. It was an emotional and beautiful moment. Turns out, Harriet, without my knowledge, had been instrumental in my nomination.

DR: Medically speaking, what legacy would you like to leave?
EL: I’d like to be remembered for being half the doctor that my dad was. He really was a great role model. Not only did he deliver most of the Jewish babies in Winnipeg, he was a fantastic community leader who retired at 83. He loved medicine and loved and remembered all his patients.

S. Larry Goldenberg

CM, OBC, MD, FRCSC, FCAHS

Dr Larry Goldenberg is the founding director of the Vancouver Prostate Centre, a $91-million facility that is the largest of its kind in Canada and Head of the Department of Urologic Sciences at UBC. In 1990, he penned the first book for the lay public directed at patients diagnosed with prostate cancer.

For his many contributions, Dr Goldenberg was recognized in 2006 for his commitment to provincial healthcare by being inducted into the Order of British Columbia, and was appointed a member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2008, he was awarded the British Columbia Innovation Council’s “Science and Technology Champion of the Year.”

Beyond medicine, Dr Goldenberg is an avid hockey fan, and longtime collector of hockey trading cards. “I’m on the lookout for a high quality set from the early 1950s,” he admits.

He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2009.

DR: Why are you so passionate about men’s health?
LG: I think men’s health hasn’t been addressed appropriately for decades. When I started my career, hormone treatment for advanced prostate cancer was unchanged for 20 or 30 years. There were so many unanswered questions. After devoting time to prostate cancer research and individual treatment, I realized that such a common disease needed enhanced public awareness.

DR: What does it feel like to be honoured with an OC?
LG: Both humbling and very exciting. As the first generation son of Holocaust survivors, it’s particularly meaningful to my family. It’s a long way from the ashes of Europe to Rideau Hall.

DR: How did you create an internationally renowned research facility?
LG: It’s about building. I realized that making connections was the best way to build momentum. I learned the art of fundraising, the importance of networking and how to leverage funds. When people see that you are passionate, they start believing in you. Donors begin investing in your program and it builds from there.

DR: And now?
LG: My team and I are hoping to take a disease that can be deadly, turn it into a chronic illness, hopefully cure it, and ultimately prevent it.

Jeffrey Turnbull

CM, MD, FRCPC

Jeffrey Turnbull is the president of the Canadian Medical Association. He practices internal medicine at the Ottawa Hospital, where he is also chief of staff.

In the early 1990s, Dr Turnbull became one of the driving forces behind Ottawa’s Inner City Health Project, where he is now medical director, and practices at several shelters. The program has won several awards, particularly in the areas of palliative hospice care and alcohol management. He has also been involved in projects to improve health care and human rights in Africa, Bangladesh and the Balkans.

Among his many professional awards, he counts the CMAE-Ian Hart Award for Distinguished Contribution to Medical Education in 2007 and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s Mentor of the Year Award in 2003.

Dr Turnbull lives on a farm just outside of Ottawa raising chickens, cattle, horses and sheep. He also grows hay, Christmas trees and vegetables. “Farming is a nice diversion from a busy life,” he explains.

He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2007.

DR: You’ve been working with the homeless for over 20 years. What got you started?
JT: Working in the emergency department, I would see someone with pneumonia, give antibiotics and send them on their way. Two days later, that person would be back, only feeling worse. The cycle continued until they’d end up in the ICU. These were treatable illnesses, but nobody was getting better. After visiting the shelter, I realized there were enormous impediments for these people to get effective care. The system wasn’t working.

DR: What makes caring for the homeless so rewarding?
JT: Truthfully, it’s quite an honour to be included in their community. They give me much more than I ever give them. They’re very interesting people, and their stories are very compelling. I like walking down the street and my homeless guys come up and say: ‘Hi Dr T.’ I never get tired of that. They celebrate my birthday, they cook for me, and when they have euchre tournaments, I always lose.

DR: The Ottawa Inner City Health Program offers an award-winning alcohol management program (wet shelter), similar to a methadone clinic. How does it work?
JT: We bring veteran street alcoholics into the shelters and allow them one drink an hour (as long as they are not intoxicated), for 12 hours. It sounds like a lot, but it’s about one-ninth of what they’d consume on the street. We’re able to stabilize the craziness in their lives. After that, we start weaning them down, and offer them effective health care. After a few months, these guys improve dramatically.

DR: What does this tell us?
JT: That health care system is okay for 95 percent of the population. But the remaining 5 percent suffer significantly because they lack access. They deserve better.

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