2023 Hall of Honour celebrates new inductees

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Four physicians notable for bringing distinction to VGH, UBC Hospital and/or GF Strong were inducted into the VCH Medical Staff of Honour recently. VMDAS recognized Dr. Mark Fitzgerald posthumously along with Drs. Robert McGraw, Jerrilyn Prior, and Richard Simons for their significant contributions. Their exceptional leadership, clinical, and academic service have profoundly benefited the residents of British Columbia.

“This is the greatest honour VGH can bestow on its physicians and surgeons,” noted Hall of Honour Co-chair Dr. Eric Yoshida. “It is inspiring to be in the presence of greatness; it encourages us to be better people, better doctors. We have wonderful people working here and they should not be forgotten.”

VCH Board Chair Dr. Penny Ballem was the event’s guest speaker.

“It’s an honour to be here this evening to celebrate four physicians who have given so much to BC’s health-care system,” said Dr. Ballem. “When I first saw the list of who we are recognizing I giggled as I know them all… trained with some and have been inspired by their activism and brilliance. Three out of the four inductees came from abroad; it’s a testament to our interest in welcoming people from all over the world and making them feel at home. It’s important that we recognize physicians who make such significant contributions. I feel enormous gratitude for all they have done.”

“VGH’s origins go back to the early 1900s and our medical staff association’s roots are also deep,” said VMDAS President Dr. Alison Harris. “Of course, the hospital has grown enormously since then, with our community of care—Vancouver Acute and Vancouver Community—now having over 2,000 members. Tonight, we celebrate four of you for your work locally, nationally, and internationally.”

Dr. Marshall Dahl nominated Dr. Prior for the Hall of Honour. In his introduction, he cited her groundbreaking work and deep commitment to women’s health. Dr. Prior is an internationally renowned expert in menstrual cycle and ovulation endocrinology and metabolic bone disease.

“This work has just begun,” remarked Dr. Prior, “and I’m counting on you to make sure it doesn’t end here. It’s just the beginning of an idea that needs to grow. Thank you for being part of the beginning.”

Dr. Morad Hameed nominated Dr. Simons for inclusion in the Hall of Honour, comparing his mentor to several British icons including Sherlock Holmes and characters from Downton Abbey, and noting that Dr. Simons “built the best trauma system in the country.”

In accepting the award Dr. Simons said, “I’m humbled to be on this list. Honours like this are typically given to individuals but the work we are celebrating is rarely achieved by just one person. From its inception, our trauma program was a team-led endeavour. I’m lucky to have worked with so many wonderful people.”

Dr. Bas Masri credited his friend, mentor, and colleague Dr. McGraw for teaching him how to think laterally to achieve the best possible outcome. He also credited Dr. McGraw for his orthopaedic leadership at VGH and UBC as department head, and nationally as president of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association, and internationally as one of the pioneers who brought hip replacement to BC.

In his acceptance remarks, Dr. McGraw recounted his many interactions with VGH, beginning with his birth 88 years ago on the top floor of the Willow Pavilion. “If you stand tall in your profession,” he said, “it is because you stand on the shoulders of colleagues who came before you.”

Dr. Chris Carlsten recalled his great friend and colleague Dr. Fitzgerald, mentioning how he exemplified excellent patient care, commitment to research, and dedication to the organization before introducing Dr. Fitzgerald’s wife, Dr. Celine Bergeron.

“Mark would have been so honoured to be here,” said Dr. Bergeron. “He touched a lot of lives, and this is a beautiful way to remember him. He left us a beautiful trail of memories.”

The Hall of Honour is located next to the elevators on the main floor of the Jim Pattison Pavilion at VGH. It acts as a history of our institution and recognizes outstanding physicians and surgeons whose contributions to medicine and medical care went beyond expectations.

Eligibility for the Hall of Honour includes service at a VGH/VCH-affiliated institution for a significant portion of a candidate’s career, retirement from VGH/VCH for a minimum of three years, and strong clinical contributions to VGH/VCH.

Click here to see photos from the evening.

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