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Island Health hires high-profile pandemic doctor

Dr. Réka Gustafson will become Island’s chief medical health officer in September
Dr. Réka Gustafson, B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer, updates the province’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. cabinet offices in Vancouver in 2020. (B.C. government photo)

Island Health has hired a new chief medical health officer who has gained a high-profile during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health authority, in a press release this month, announced that Dr. Réka Gustafson will become Island Health’s new chief medical health officer and vice-president of population and public health.

Beginning in September, Gustafson will oversee Island Health’s team of medical health officers and work with the health authority’s senior leadership. The release noted that the doctor will work on strategies and initiatives “to drive quality improvements” and will lead her department’s response to the overdose crisis and pandemic response and recovery.

Gustafson joins Island Health from the Provincial Health Services Authority, where she was deputy provincial health officer, providing leadership at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

“[She] has been at the forefront of the dual public health emergencies of the COVID-19 pandemic and the toxic drug crisis in B.C., providing leadership for evidence-informed public health initiatives, planning and decisions,” noted the release. “She is also a skilled presenter, turning complex data and concepts into understandable information for all audiences, as was experienced at many public briefings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dr. Richard Stanwick retired as Island Health’s chief medical health officer earlier this year, and Dr. Murray Fyfe has been interim chief medical health officer.

Kathy MacNeil, Island Health’s president and CEO, said in the release that she’s excited to welcome Gustafson to the health authority.

“We are fortunate to have such an experienced provincial health leader join our organization and provide executive leadership for our population and public health initiatives,” MacNeil said.

READ ALSO: Dr. Richard Stanwick officially retires

READ ALSO: Island Health announces Dr. Richard Stanwick’s retirement at the end of the year

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