The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) Board of Health (BOH) has given a unanimous vote of confidence to Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis has created unprecedented challenges to the health unit and has had a profound effect on the lives and livelihoods of the residents of Simcoe Muskoka. At the April BOH meeting, Chair Anita Dubeau praised Dr. Gardner for his “excellent leadership and response to the pandemic, during an extraordinary year”.
“Dr. Gardner’s concern for his staff and the residents of Simcoe Muskoka and the way in which he has worked with our hospitals, family health teams, municipalities and government agencies is exceptional. He has the Board’s resolute support as our region’s Medical Officer of Health,” said Dubeau.
Under Dr. Gardner’s direction the health unit has provided a broad and vigorous response to the complex demands of the pandemic and has enacted many strategies to manage the spread of the disease. These include conducting case and contact management, data collection and surveillance reporting, managing over 200 local outbreaks, developing effective health communication strategies, engaging in local and provincial advocacy, and implementing a regional mass immunization strategy.
Dr. Gardner has served as primary agency spokesperson to the media and has provided leadership to coordinate a collaborative response to the pandemic in Simcoe Muskoka with a multitude of partners including other health care agencies, school boards, municipalities and the business sector. He also serves as a member of the provincial Public Health Measures Table advising the Chief Medical Officer of Health and as a member of the Response Table for the Central Region of Ontario Health.
In response to the Board’s declaration of support for his leadership, Dr. Gardner acknowledged the important role of SMDHU staff. “As information, regulations, and available resources seem to change on an almost daily basis, the one thing that has remained constant throughout is the dedication and hard work of every member of the SMDHU team and I am extremely impressed with them. I am also very grateful for the unwavering supportive leadership of the Board of Health which is so essential to our ability as employees in our response to the pandemic.”
Dr. Gardner will commence as Chair of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health (COMOH) on June 9, 2021 while continuing as Medical Officer of Health for SMDHU. “I anticipate there will by many challenges for me in this position, whether they be with the on-going pandemic, the recovery of the public health system, or with the public enquiries that will come related to the pandemic, but it is a role I wholeheartedly accept.”
More information about the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the governing Board of Health can be found at www.smdhu.org