2009 – Nova Scotia

Arichat, Nova Scotia, is an island with an aging population and only one doctor: Dr Lawrence MacNeil. Dr MacNeil – or Laurie as he is known to many of his patients – has singlehandedly cared for more than 5000 islanders for over 25 years! He is the jewel that most rural communities long for.

Since graduating from Dalhousie University in 1982, Laurie has been an invaluable asset to the practice of family medicine. When doctor shortages threatened to shut down acute care at Saint Anne’s Community and Nursing Care Centre, forcing people to drive an hour to the next hospital, Laurie took call for emergency services 24/7. He spearheaded the hospital’s evolution from an inpatient facility to a seniors’ and emergency health centre with ambulatory services, including the diabetic clinic he manages. This is now viewed as a model of service for rural communities in Canada.

Laurie works long hours but goes out of his way to see patients at home, often visiting to deliver bad news or to provide care under difficult circumstances. He excels in collaborative care and is described as “a dream” to work with. He is a coroner for his region and as a clinical preceptor with Dalhousie University, is actively recruiting family physicians to his region.

Over the years, Laurie has contributed to community activities involving the Arichat Yacht Club, Boy Scouts Movement as well as hockey and baseball. He is married to Barbara with whom he delivers a marriage preparation program at his local church.

“As a rural family physician it is critical to address sustainability of health care services. By doing so you will improve your patients’ health and happiness as well as your own.”

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