Thursday, 01 September 2011 11:46

Vulcan doctor wins physician of the year award

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By Susan Quinlan
Vulcan
The Alberta College of Family Physicians recently selected Dr. Len Wade of Vulcan as family physician of the year.


“I don’t think I do things any differently than my partners here. It’s easy to be a large fish in such a small pond,” said Wade, when asked how it felt to receive the honour.

“Vulcan has the smallest rural hospital in the Calgary area, so in large part, I have to share this award with my colleagues.”

At 55, Wade said he entered medical school a bit later in life and has now spent 23 years practising medicine in Vulcan where he and his wife, Barbara, have taken an active interest in their community.

“We had always been active in sports. One of the things we missed coming to Vulcan was having a sports club.”

As a direct result, Wade and Barbara, along with Wade’s partners at the clinic, got involved in development of the Vulcan Cultural Recreation Centre, which Wade said has been well received by residents.

However, Wade is quick to note another group undertook a project to put a walking path around the town, so it’s clearly a community of citizens willing to dig in and make things happen.

Recipients of the Alberta Family Physician of the Year award are chosen by their peers for providing exceptional care to their patients, making progressive contributions to the health and well being of their communities and dedicating themselves to the education of future generations of family doctors.

Nominating Wade for the award was Dr. Aleksandar Vukovic, a Calgary physician who, since 2006, has helped out in Vulcan, but was initially employed there through the Rural Locum Program.

Vukovic said he continues to help out in Vulcan, as a direct result of the respect he has for Wade, taking note of Wade’s work ethic and dedication.

“Len is tireless; very devoted. One thing I’ve noticed from early days, you’ll never find one bit of frustration on Len; he’s always gentle, always willing to help. What impressed me the most was his conduct and willingness to stay late and sit and talk to patients, with no compensation.”

Vukovic recalled one night when he was working emergency and had to return to the clinic for a patient’s file. There he found Wade counselling a family, long past when the clinic had closed.

“He was in there with a family in crisis, and had spent three or four hours deep into the night.”

Vukovic later asked Wade why he had done that and Wade responded simply that he knew them all, multiple generations of many Vulcan families, and was glad to help whenever he could.

“When you’ve got a hospital with only 20 nurses and you know them all by name, and they know all their patients by their first name … being small is a good thing. Creating these very large health facilities isn’t going to increase the quality of care,” said Wade, a former Calgarian.

Vukovic continued his professional praise of Wade, commenting on how the physician has managed to serve as director of hospital services and of the ambulance, as well as long term care.

He also manages the clinic and remains involved as a volunteer in his community and abroad, having recently made a trip to Kenya.

Vukovic said he realized there were many deserving physicians in the province, including Wade’s long time colleague at the Vulcan Medical Clinic, Dr. Shawn Webster.

As well, Vukovic gave a nod to Wade’s supportive family, knowing they have a large role in his success as well.

“What’s interesting is Len’s humble manner. He takes everything without a grain of frustration; the guy can’t be shaken. I’m so impressed with his work ethic, his diligence, attention to detail… he still approaches each issue with the care of a first year resident.”

A banquet honouring Wade, hosted by the Alberta College of Family Physicians, will be held in February in Banff.

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Dr. Len Wade, shown here on vacation, was named Alta.'s Physician of the Year.

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