Sudbury

Sudbury's Health Sciences North pays tribute to Dr. Janet McElhaney

The flags at Sudbury’s Health Sciences North were at half mast this week in memory of Dr. Janet McElhaney.

McElhaney died on Oct. 21 after a three-year battle against cancer

Dr. Janet McElhaney was a geriatrician and Health Sciences North's scientific director. She died at a British Columbia hospice after a three-year battle against cancer, on Thursday, Oct. 21.  (Health Sciences North)

The flags at Sudbury's Health Sciences North were at half mast this week in memory of Dr. Janet McElhaney.

McElhaney was a geriatrician and the hospital's scientific director. She died at a British Columbia hospice after a three-year battle with cancer, on Thursday, Oct. 21. 

"It's almost impossible to describe Dr. McElhaney as anything other than just truly remarkable," said her friend and colleague, Dr. Joanne Clarke, Health Sciences North's lead in geriatrics.

Clarke said she was recently helping a patient who was disappointed she was not "the other geriatrician" at the hospital.

"And she remembered her name," Clarke said. "She said, Dr. McElhaney, she was such a kind woman and such a remarkable woman. And I remember how she made me feel, and I think that is something that you cannot teach."

McElhaney joined Health Sciences North in 2011 after a distinguished career in which she held senior research roles at various universities. Before joining the hospital she was the Allan M. McGavin Chair in Geriatrics Research at the University of British Columbia.

In an open post he shared on his Facebook page, Health Sciences North president and CEO Dominic Giroux said she would be greatly missed.

Health Sciences North president and CEO Dominic Giroux paid tribute to Dr. Janet McElhaney in a post on his Facebook page. (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

"Despite her diagnosis a few years ago, Janet continued her work and research," Giroux said in his post. "She continued to provide care to patients, kneeling at their bedside to be eye-to-eye to explain what was happening in terms they would understand."

In Sudbury, she helped pioneer the 48/5 clinical intervention for hip fracture patients.The intervention had different care providers address key areas of care for the patients within the first 48 hours of their fracture. It resulted in better health outcomes for the patients.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, McElhaney was also an outspoken advocate for vaccines and their safety. She gave many media interviews to help counter vaccine hesitancy. 

"Janet's legacy is to be kind to one another, continue to strengthen our research efforts and improve our approaches to make health care more seniors friendly," Giroux said. 

"She would want us to advance Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and make our organizations more welcoming to LGBTQ2S patients, visitors, employees, medical staff, learners and volunteers." 

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