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Duncan doctor receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Psychiatrist Dr. Robin Routledge honoured for contributions to rural medicine
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Dr. Robin Routledge of Duncan BC is humbled by the two awards he has been honoured with over the past two years. In April 2023, Routledge was presented with the Rural Specialist Merit Award from The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, and earlier this month was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to mental health, and rural medicine. (Courtesy of Dr. Robin Routledge)

Duncan’s Dr. Robin Routledge was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2024 Rural Health Awards on May 24.

Routledge, who received the Rural Specialist Merit Award last year, was bestowed the honour at the awards, which were part of the BC Rural Health Conference in Whistler.

READ MORE: Duncan doctor receives Rural Specialist Merit Award

Routledge is a rural psychiatrist who has been serving the unceded territory of Cowichan Tribes for the past 40 years. Through compassion, dignity, mutual education, and self-regard he has been improving the mental health of some of the community’s most vulnerable members as he provides team-based mental health care out of the Cowichan Lodge Tertiary Mental Health Facility. Routledge who admits he felt a little abashed and last year by the honour has changed his view point but not his humility with his recent accolade.

“The awards aren’t about what I think of myself but rather what a really large group of people think about me so I now realize I don’t need to feel embarrassed that someone may think I’m full of myself,” said Routledge. “The awards that were presented are important to rural healthcare communities because they too acknowledge important values, values that were important to most of the 500 people at last week’s ceremony as well as the 700 who attended last year. Both awards have identified the values in my life story, and while this may come as a surprise to some local people, it probably won’t to those who worked closely with me, and I hope it is not such a surprise to the people we served.”

Through his role as a core member with the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, at a provincial level Routledge has championed the role of specialists in supporting family physicians and multidisciplinary teams. Routledge has led clinics throughout the Cowichan Valley that functioned as therapeutic communities where participants were able to improve their health.

Routledge’s unwavering dedication to the rural communities of the Cowichan area is also seen through his hard work in developing and supporting the Orcas Society; the development and support of the Cowichan Community Health Network, his unwavering focus upon homelessness, plus his continued advocacy, his approach to, and his acceptance of patients living with psychiatric illnesses.

Routledge’s wife Lou Mackey could not be prouder of her husband for being bestowed this honour and knows that even in his retirement he will continue to give back to the community.

“He does not want to lose his connection with people and projects,” said Mackey.

Other rural health heroes that were honoured at the 2024 BC Rural Health Awards included the City of Dawson Creek, awarded the Rural BC Community Award, and Rossland’s Dr. Svetlana Hadikin who was the recipient of the inaugural Resident Leadership Award. Winners of both the Rural Community and Lifetime Achievement awards received a plaque and a $2,500 cash prize for a community celebration while the winner of the Resident Leadership award was given free registration to the Rural Health Conference. Routledge is donating his cash prize to the 2024 39 Days of July.

“We are incredibly grateful for the contributions of our 2024 Rural Health Award winners,” said Rural Coordination Centre of BC executive director Dr. Ray Markham. “We are always amazed by the innovation and ingenuity of our rural health teams, and this year is no different. I congratulate our winners and thank them for their dedication.”

“I was a different guy and Cowichan Valley was a different place when I arrived 40 years ago,” said Routledge. “I had already been involved in mental healthcare for 17 years before then. I learned a lot over the years, and had a lot to learn — I’m still learning.”