Leadership expansion

In September 2021, gastroenterologist Dr. Ken Atkinson became Royal Columbian Hospital’s site medical director amid an ongoing global pandemic and a major hospital redevelopment. This interview was conducted in November 2021.

Foundation: You became site medical director as the pandemic’s fourth wave was starting to pick up. What are you hearing from your colleagues about the ongoing strain of COVID-19?

KA: There is fatigue for sure, and we are trying to support each other across the hospital. We have been through a number of ups and downs these last couple of years, and we all want this pandemic to come to an end. But we have also seen how the situation has brought us closer together as medical teams, and there’s something inspirational about that. We are also grateful whenever we hear about the community’s support.

Foundation: In your role as gastroenterologist, how have donors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation supported your work?

KA: I arrived at Royal Columbian in 1998. I could tell we were building a GI program here, and it was a great hospital. We were looking for support to expand our services and create a program to serve the region. Thanks to the generosity and drive of one couple in particular, we were successful. I can honestly say it would not have happened without Diane and Ed Les.

Foundation: You have taken an active role in research projects during your career. Why are you drawn to research?

KA: Research is the foundation of innovation clinical practice. It is a privilege and responsibility to patients that I take very seriously. Without clinical research, we cannot improve patient care.

Foundation: Construction of the new Acute Care Tower is moving along as part of the hospital’s redevelopment. What is it going to mean for Royal Columbian?

KA: The building and expansion of the new tower for Royal Columbian will allow us to be at the forefront of patient care and continue to expand our role as leaders in tertiary care services. This includes all areas of tertiary care including emergency services, cardiac, neurosciences, interventional radiology and gastroenterology, renal and urological care, critical care, all surgical specialties and medical specialties, women and children’s care and mental health.

Hospital Team