New Health Care Fund Created In Memory Of Local Physician William S. Monk

Dr. William S. Monk
Dr. William S. Monk. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Monk

The Muskoka Community Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of the Dr. William S. Monk Community Health Care Development Fund in memory of a local physician. The intention of this fund is to support initiatives to attract, develop and retain primary health care workers in Muskoka.

The fund was created by Dr. Monk’s daughter, Kathryn, to honour her father’s legacy as a general practitioner and surgeon who served Muskoka for over 55 years. After finishing medical school at the University of Toronto in 1951, Dr. Monk and his wife, Margaret, moved to Gravenhurst where he first worked as a family doctor. Realizing there were no local specialists to treat patients further, he returned to medical school to train as a general surgeon. He then returned to Muskoka, settling in Bracebridge, and became an integral driver of efforts to build a new hospital where the current site is located.

He treated thousands of Muskokans, permanent and seasonal residents alike, and delivered over 500 babies. In the shoulder seasons, Dr. Monk also covered surgeries in the Huntsville hospital every other weekend, so the surgeon there could have a break (and vice versa).

“My father’s patients took precedence over all other areas of his life,” said Kathryn Monk. “He was extremely dedicated to serving Muskoka as a doctor, and he sacrificed much of his personal life to ensure generations of Muskokans were cared for.”

With a $150,000 seed investment, the Dr. William S. Monk Community Health Care Development Fund is intended to help attract, develop and retain primary, community health care workers, including doctors, specialists, nurses, nurse practitioners, PSWs, dental health care professionals, maternity and post-partum caregivers, mental health professionals, aging-at-home workers, end-of-life carers and death doulas, as well as additional health care workers as needed across Muskoka.

Grants will be awarded to local qualified donees and charitable organizations that are working to support the development of sustainable primary health care outside of a hospital setting. The first initiative will entail working with the Township of Muskoka Lakes, plus additional community-minded partners and service clubs, to attract a successor(s) to the only doctor in the township, who is retiring imminently.

“My purpose in establishing this fund in my father’s name is to empower communities and individuals to participate in finding solutions to the primary health care crisis in Muskoka,” Kathryn said. “We are often only presented with public or private health care system approaches to these issues, both of which have limitations, as we know. I’d like to propose a new option to complement current efforts; a community-centric approach where we all have a say in creating sustainable health care in Muskoka, and where folks can come together in unique partnerships to find practical solutions.”

Lynn DeCaro, executive director of the Muskoka Community Foundation, said, “The Muskoka Community Foundation is excited to work with Ms. Monk and be a part of finding sustainable and innovative solutions that help people across Muskoka access primary health care services.”

DeCaro also said charitable gifts can be accepted for the Dr. William S. Monk Community Health Care Development Fund at any time.

For more information, visit the Muskoka Community Foundation website.

This article was submitted by the Muskoka Community Foundation and lightly edited for clarity.


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