Dr. Keith MacLellan honoured with the Order of Canada

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Doctor Keith MacLellan is one of 2014’s new Members of the Order of Canada.

Scott Campbell



Doctor Keith MacLellan is one of 2014’s new Members of the Order of Canada.

Scott Campbell

BRISTOL – Early in December, Dr. Keith MacLellan, who lives in Bristol, received a confidential call from Governor General David Johnston’s office informing him that he was one of 95 new appointments to the Order of Canada. “I was told not to say anything until December 26, when the official announcement would be made,” said Dr. MacLellan.  “I asked
permission to tell my wife, Donna, though,” he quipped. 
Created in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II to coincide with Canada’s centennial celebrations, the Order of Canada
is one of the country’s highest civilian honours.  Membership is given to those who exemplify
the order’s motto, “They desire a better country” and recognizes “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.” There are three tiers of
the Order: Companion, recognizing national
pre-eminence or international service or achievement; Officer, recognizing national service or achievement; and Member, recognizing outstanding contribution at the local or regional level or in a specific field of activity. Over the past 45 years more than 6,000 Canadians have been invested into the Order. Dr. MacLellan has been appointed as a Member of the Order.
Individuals are nominated to the Order by
an individual or a group. Nominations are reviewed by the Chancellery of Honours to determine the reach and impact of each nominee; the final decisions on appointments are made by the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada and the Governor General. Dr. MacLellan was chosen ‘for his
contributions to advancing rural medicine in Canada as a small-town family physician and as a driving force behind the Society
of Rural Physicians of Canada.’
“I am one of the
co-founders of the Society, which began in 1992,” Dr. MacLellan told the Pontiac Journal. “Doctors need to continually upgrade and learn new skills.  There weren’t a lot of courses available for the type of medicine that rural and remote doctors have to practice; they are a very different breed.”
These ‘different breed’ doctors need a broad range of medical knowledge because there is often no access to specialists within their communities.  They care for sick children where pediatricians would do that work in the city; they deliver babies, which would otherwise be done by obstetricians; look after heart attacks as would a cardiologist; or set broken bones which would be an
orthopedic surgeon’s area of expertise.
“I started a national conference on rural and remote medicine in Montreal with McGill University,” said Dr. MacLellan. “I had no idea if it would work, but
doctors came from all over rural Canada; now we have it every year, in
different places across the country.”
The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada has over 3,000 members from all regions of the country. Along with educational programs, its mandates are to advocate for equitable healthcare in rural communities and sustainable working conditions for doctors who work in those rural and remote areas.  The office for the Society is located on Main Street in Shawville, and most
of their programs are
co-ordinated here.
Dr. MacLellan came to the Pontiac in late 1978 and began his practise
in January, 1979. He
discounts the suggestion that the Order was given for his day-to-day work as a physician. “There’s a ton of family physicians who deserve accolades for being good doctors in rural areas. In the Pontiac we are lucky to have someone like Dr. Earle Potvin, who’s amazing for what he’s done for this area. He’s the reason I stayed here,” he said.
After 36 years of
practice Dr. MacLellan has seen many changes in his profession.  He believes that general practitioners, with their broadly-based skills, will continue to be needed, responding to the needs of rural residents.
“I couldn’t have done what I’ve done, or received this award,
without the people of the Pontiac, my colleagues, and our hospital administration. This award is something for the entire Pontiac to share; that’s the exciting part. We need good news!  We should be proud of ourselves and what our local hospital
has achieved,” said Dr. MacLellan.  “It was nice to see the name Bristol listed on the press release!” he added.
Dr. MacLellan will be formally awarded the Order of Canada during a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, later this year.            (LL)