Dr Leah Norgrove, long a foundational champion within the palliative care community, is stepping back from her Medical Leader role with the Palliative and End of Life Care Program. It is a sad day for staff at SPH who have benefitted so much from Dr Norgrove’s skill, empathy, caring and leadership.
Her legacies include the establishment of SPH’s cherished 10-bed palliative care unit and programs such as W̱SÁNEĆ Journey Home: Working towards Cultural Safety in Palliative Care Services for Four First Nation Communities. Journey Home empowers people from the four WSÁNEĆ First Nation communities to receive culturally appropriate care at the end of their lives.
She also founded the Bombo Palliative Care Project Society, which funds a palliative care program in Tanzania that Dr Norgrove and her husband, Dr Ambrose Marsh, began in 2008. While working in Tanzania, Dr Norgove also noted that half of the women dying of cancer in her program had cervical cancer, which is entirely preventable if caught early. So, she started a cervical cancer screening program. “This is an area where we can have a really big impact,” she explained.
Denis Muloin was among the many patients who benefited from Dr Norgrove’s compassionate care. At this year’s Denis Muloin Ride for Palliative Care, Dr Norgrove explained why the funds raised were meaningful — but also why her contributions have meant so much.
This flagship unit at SPH is not just a regular hospital unit. Many enhancements make it a special place; the feeling of caring and home is embedded in every aspect. When you walk into the PCU there is calm and a sense of caring, understanding and support. Thanks to the Unit, families can stay with their loved ones within the community. People experience supportive and intensive care for the patient and their family at the end of their life. What the patient wants and needs is a priority on the unit, as are the family’s needs.
The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians recognized her efforts to provide culturally safe end of life care with their 2018 Humanitarian Award.
“Thank you, Dr. Norgrove for your tireless leadership,” says Dr. Leah MacDonald, Island Health’s Medical Director of Palliative & End of Life Care Program. “Palliative care on the Saanich Peninsula has been greatly enhanced by your by your vision, compassion and energy.”
Dr. Norgrove will continue to practice family medicine and work on the SPH palliative care unit part time.