Medical Staff at Island Health-A Message from Dr. Jeremy Etherington

With the approaching Holiday Season, I am reminded how lucky my family and I really are to live in such a great country and to work in Island Health. It is easy, though, even as we have so much, to become discouraged by first-world problems, to want more material things and to covet greater comfort or security we may see in those around us. A recent medical illness, however, has shown me, up close and personal, what is really important in life, and it’s not more money or material wealth; it’s not shorter work hours or less work travel, nor is it more personal recognition or influence. It is the gifts of love, friendship, working for the greater good, and striving to live up to the principles and values I hold close to my heart. It’s also about deep human connection, passion and helping to heal what is broken in others.

I, too, am sometimes given to “poor me” musings. Yet the difficulties I face are minor compared to the burdens others carry. I had the privilege recently of talking with one of our staff about her life: having to flee her home country or face genocide; witnessing the death of a beloved family member as her home was bombed; narrowly escaping the execution of all her schoolmates; watching, at the age of 9, people slaughtered in front of her; then being forced to flee from a second country only to end up in a refugee camp in a third country; and going for long periods without food or adequate clothing. Yet, through all this, she has developed a sense of optimism, a penchant for kindness, and clear love for the people around her. Many would have become bitter or deeply scarred and damaged by all of this; instead, she has become an inspiration to her family, friends and the  staff who work for her. For me, she is the embodiment of everything the Holiday Season represents. For me, she is the Joy we should espouse as we share in the miracle of rebirth in the coming year.

 The holiday season can be a very difficult time for the people we serve; indeed it can be a time of despair and hopelessness for many, so we can expect busy emergency departments and overcrowded hospitals over the holiday period. This time can also be extremely challenging for our staff and medical staff who selflessly care for others and often miss celebrating with their family and friends. But it is a time for us to appreciate the gifts we have in life, and to reflect on what this time of year means to those who are far less fortunate than ourselves: those living on the street; those fighting mental health and substance issues; those who are regularly discriminated against; and those who are poor and the hungry.

 I want you to know how grateful I am for one of my work families, the Medical and Academic Affairs Team. Thank you for sharing our vision of “an engaged and healthy medical staff who work with Island Health to co-lead and respond effectively to the rapidly changing world of health care”. Throughout 2018, we have faced challenges, but we can and must celebrate achievements such as the new medical-staff website; delivering on medical leadership development training; the continued success of the Physician Quality Improvement initiative; the long-anticipated signing of the South Island Hospitalists contract; the hard work on the medical leadership structure review; a new EMD for Geo 2, Dr. Ben Williams, and a new EMD for Geo 1, Dr. Jennifer Grace. More importantly, I am totally grateful to be a part of our team and to share in all your day-to-day triumphs and frustrations. You are the best!

 On behalf of Medical and Academic Affairs, I would like to extend my heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy and safe Holiday Season and for an exciting year ahead. I really look forward to watching our team continue to bloom in 2019.


Jeremy Etherington

VP Medicine, Quality and Academic Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, Island Health.