A physician who played a lead role in pandemic planning for Central Alberta is leaving for a top job with Alberta Health and Wellness.
Martin Lavoie, medical officer of health for the central zone of Alberta Health Services, will become the senior provincial medical officer of health in Edmonton on Sept. 28. He’ll work alongside André Corriveau, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
Lavoie, a physician who specialized in community medicine, will work on various public health programs from a provincial perspective.
“It’s never a dull moment in public health,” said Lavoie, 41.
The native Quebecer moved to Red Deer in July 2002 and over the course of seven years, fulfilled a role that was both exciting and challenging.
He enjoyed working with various staff and doctors within the former David Thompson Health Region, plus municipal partners and others.
Lavoie will never forget when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) struck. It started in China in November 2002 and then spread to various places including Toronto. By the time it was finished in July 2003, there were more than 8,000 known infected cases and 774 deaths.
“That was quite an undertaking to connect all the emergency rooms and make sure everyone was on the same page, so people knew what to do if someone fit the definition of SARS,” Lavoie said.
Pandemic planning was another huge task for Lavoie, who had to ensure the health region was ready.
“It was great, but also challenging when people didn’t have much time to do this,” he said. “We were also supporting other partners in their planning process so they could understand what a pandemic was and its potential impact.”
His position will be shared by two doctors. Laura McLeod, former deputy medical officer of health for the David Thompson Health Region, and Gerhard Benade, former medical officer of health for the East Central health region, have already started working in their new roles.
“I think the central zone is in good hands with these two people,” said Lavoie, who is using the end of his contract for holidays.
With provincial reorganization, the David Thompson and East Central regions merged to form the central zone.