The new medical health officer for central Vancouver Island is looking forward to an exciting opportunity and hopes he can fill the shoes of past officers.
Dr. Paul Hasselback takes over the position Sept. 12, replacing Dr. Lorna Medd and before her Dr. Fred Rockwell – both now retired.
Hasselback has more than 20 years experience as a medical health officer in Alberta, Saskatchewan and most recently with B.C.’s Interior Health Authority.
He was involved at the provincial and national levels in both communicable and non-communicable challenges for public health and is the chairman of the Health Officers Council of B.C.
Born in Vancouver, Hasselback said he has never lived on the Island and looks forward to the opportunities and cultural shift.
“There is a very persuasive group of medical health officers currently there that desperately said they wanted me to come and join them,” he said. “Having not lived there before, I’m always open to new experiences.”
With an area of responsibility from the Malahat to Qualicum and west to Tofino/Ucluelet, Hasselback plans to meet with people in the Vancouver Island Health Authority, other health components and community groups to determine the major issues that need to be addressed.
“The area is set and made up of a diversity of different communities and each of those communities has their own issues,” he said. “Some communities are in a good position to actually move forward on areas of concern, while others may need to sit down and start talking about the health issues of the community as a first step. I’m looking forward to working with communities in whatever step or phase they are in at the moment.”
Hasselback said he has known Rockwell, Medd and Dr. Richard Stanwick, VIHA’s chief medical health officer, for a number of years and knows he can call upon their knowledge if necessary.
“My personal philosophy is that to fairly address public health issues, this has to be based on the assessment on the current situation,” he said. “History may be informative, but the past is only one aspect of the current issue. An appreciation of the culture and social history is integral to successfully putting perspective on the issues of the day.”