An Abbotsford doctor has been recognized as one of the best family physicians in the province.
Dr. Marylu Loewen was named by the BC College of Family Physicians of this year’s Fraser Health recipient of the My Family Doctor Award.
The award is based on patient nominations, and is designed to celebrate the doctor-patient relationships that support good health.
Loewen graduated from medical school at the National University of Asuncion, Paraguay. Following a postgraduate internship, she worked as a GP in a rural setting before immigrating to Canada. In 2021, Dr. Loewen successfully finished UBC’s Family Medicine program. Now Loewen practices family medicine in a clinic in Abbotsford where she is working to build a multigenerational patient panel.
Her motivation as a family physician is largely driven by patient interactions, especially when a patient ends a visit with the line, “I already feel better by just talking to you.”
One of Loewen’s nominators struggled with a nasal issue that was misdiagnosed as nasal polyps since childhood. After decades of disordered breathing, prescription medications, decongestants, asthma, and allergy medications, Dr. Loewen’s reassessment of the issue provided a solution that would give the patient a new outlook on life.
“Dr. Loewen picked up on the word ‘presumed’ and dug into the backstory,” says the nominator. “She was committed to exploring if there was a solution. It has and will continue to profoundly impact my life in ways that I have yet to discover.”
Other doctors who were awarded are: Dr. Anis Lakha of West Vancouver (Vancouver Coastal); Dr. Allison Ferg of Victoria (Island Health); Dr. Linda O’Neill of Kelowna (Interior Health); and Dr. Jaco Strydom of Terrace (Northern Health).
Also recognized was Dr. Karin Kausky of Whistler, who is the recipient of the BC Family Physician of the Year Award. Dr. Sasha Langille-Rowe of Terrace was named recipient of the First Five Years in Practice Award. Both were nominated by fellow family doctors in recognition of their exemplary patient care and leadership in family medicine.
The award announcements came just a few days ahead of Family Doctor Day, which is May 19. Family Doctor Day, proclaimed in B.C. and globally, recognizes family doctors as a resource to their communities who provide relationship-based, comprehensive, longitudinal care that improves the overall health of the population.
It also comes at a time when there is growing acknowledgment that family medicine is in a state of crisis in B.C., and that an effective primary care system needs to include investment in family doctors.
“Evidence shows that having a family doctor who knows you and cares for you over time results in better overall health outcomes, higher patient satisfaction, and fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits,” says Powell River B.C.-based family doctor and BCCFP President, Dr. David May.
“This is affirmed by the hundreds of letters we have received from patients sharing how essential their family doctor is to their overall health and quality of life.”
“We launched our awards program as a way to celebrate the outstanding work of family doctors across the province,” says Dr. May. “But, it has also become a canary in the coal mine of sorts, highlighting what we stand to lose if British Columbians can’t access ongoing care from a family physician.”
According to research recently released by the BCCFP, almost one million British Columbians don’t have, and can’t get, a family doctor.
“We received hundreds of nominations for the My Family Doctor awards, this year,” said Dr. May. “But, we received even more messages from people desperate to find a family doctor.”
Family doctors are experts in caring for the whole person through all stages of life, taking into account their culture, financial status, past traumas, and other aspects that impact health. Most family physicians complete at least 11 years of training before entering practice, making them the most highly trained professionals in primary care.
“In their nomination letters, the public told us that they value the relationships they are able to build with their family doctors, as well as their medical expertise,” says Dr. May. “We believe that all British Columbians deserve a family doctor who knows them and cares for them over time.”
To help raise awareness of this issue, the BCCFP has launched an awareness campaign. More information for the public, including a form for sending a letter to your MLA, is available at on the campaign website at myfamilydoctorcares.ca.
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