What started as an arrangement only intended to last a few months, turned into a blossoming career for Collingwood physician Dr. Alyssa Boyd.
Boyd was honoured this week with the Dr. S. Lawrence Librach Award for Palliative Medicine in the Community at the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario conference in Toronto. She serves as the medical director at Hospice Georgian Triangle and Campbell House.
“I couldn’t believe it. Larry (Librach) is like a celebrity to me,” said Boyd in an interview with CollingwoodToday. “It was a real honour.”
“It was also amazing to see Collingwood honoured. We have such a special thing in our community. This award usually goes to a doctor in Toronto or Hamilton. They wouldn’t have chosen Collingwood if we didn’t have amazing palliative care here in general,” said Boyd.
Dr. Librach began his medical career in 1970, became an early presence in the field of palliative care in 1978 and was instrumental in shaping the Canadian approach to palliative care and palliative medicine.
The award is presented to one physician in Ontario who demonstrates excellence and leadership in palliative care and advances palliative care in their community through mentorship of family physicians.
Boyd grew up in Toronto and did her training for rural medicine in Thunder Bay. She and her best friend from medical school would visit her parents’ cottage in Collingwood, which is what first brought Boyd to the area.
Boyd’s friend and her husband took temporary positions in South Georgian Bay in 2006, which inspired Boyd to also accept a temporary job in the same area.
“I was supposed to be here for a few months, but then, I loved it! I ended up starting up a practice with the two of them,” she said.
While Boyd got her start working in rural family medicine, she says she always felt drawn to palliative medicine.
“I’ve always gravitated to it because it’s such an intimate time in patients’ lives,” she said. “Being part of that intimate moment with families is so rewarding. I’ve seen the most beautiful moments that renew your faith in humanity, like families all coming together.”
“Health care is so difficult right now for so many reasons. People are gracious and grateful. It’s a real privilege to work in that area,” said Boyd.
Looking forward, Boyd plans to continue working with South Georgian Bay family doctors through Hospice Georgian Triangle to educate them on best palliative care practices.
“I want every family doctor in Collingwood to be able to offer this to their own patients because it’s so rewarding,” she said.
As a co-founder of the Living Wish Foundation, she also plans to continue that work. She recently completed some oncology training and will be working with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie to offer those services.
“Down the road, I hope it will be a service I can also offer to local patients. I think it could help the community, having those services closer,” she said.