FILE - Dr. Tracy Morton is pictured with his sons Sol and Lief, as well as Ike Batten, during the Canada Days Paddle Race in Port Clements in June 2017. Morton has been announced as one of three recipients of the Rural Coordination Centre of BC 2020 Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement award. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer file)

FILE - Dr. Tracy Morton is pictured with his sons Sol and Lief, as well as Ike Batten, during the Canada Days Paddle Race in Port Clements in June 2017. Morton has been announced as one of three recipients of the Rural Coordination Centre of BC 2020 Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement award. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer file)

Haida Gwaii doctor wins lifetime achievement award

Dr. Tracy Morton recognized by Rural Coordination Centre of BC

The Haida Gwaii Hospital’s own Dr. Tracy Morton has been recognized by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) with a lifetime achievement award.

The BC Rural Health Awards program handed out the 2020 Excellence in Rural Medicine: Lifetime Achievement award to Morton as well as two doctors in Terrace and 100 Mile House, to highlight their long-term commitments to rural communities in B.C.

“Their commitment to improving health outcomes for their patients … is a testament to their passion and compassion for this rewarding work,” said Dr. Ray Markham, executive director of RCCbc.

A ceremony of recognition is planned for the recipients at the BC Rural Health Conference in Penticton next year.

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A release from RCCbc said Morton, who grew up in a small town in Alberta, was surprised to find himself in an even smaller town in rural B.C.

Working on Haida Gwaii since 2000, “he has found great community and fantastically stimulating remote medicine, working with a great group of committed colleagues and team.”

“He believes that health care in a rural environment can be as good as anywhere in Canada,” the release said.

“He models healthy work-home life balance through biking, meditation and yoga, travel, and cultivating healthy relationships. He is married to Kiki and has two boys, Lief and Sol, who teach him humility and wonder every day. He lives on [Robertson Island] and mostly appreciates the canoe commute to work.”

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In a video for Northern Health, Morton said he originally came to Haida Gwaii for a couple of weeks and planned to continue travelling.

“Once I hit this place it was really a qualitatively different experience,” he said. “Other places that I worked short-term, they didn’t really grab me. This place just got ahold of me in a way that I’d never experienced before.”

He said he fell in love with the natural environment and appreciated the opportunity to connect with Haida culture.

He also said being a general practitioner in a rural setting where there are no specialists allows him to treat the full range of illnesses.

“The complexity is as much as anybody could ever want in a job and the responsibility is pretty substantial,” he said. “I don’t think I could ever go to an urban environment ever to work because of the fragmentation of care that I think exists in the urban settings, where specialists are supposed to deal with certain things and GPs aren’t and you’re not very much in the hospital or emergency room.

“Work is about as good as it gets I think for a GP in terms of challenge and interest.”

In 2009, Morton was also named the rural family physician of the year by the BC College of Family Physicians.

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