OMA honours two Orillia doctors and a vital local volunteer

OMA honours two Orillia doctors and a vital local volunteer

Dr. Gary Smith and Dr. Ron Taylor earned the 2021 Ontario Medical Association Glenn Sawyer Award, while Fred Larsen was recognized for community service

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) has honoured six Ontario physicians with the coveted 2021 Glenn Sawyer Award, and two of them are retired Orillia doctors.

Dr. Gary Smith and Dr. Ron. Taylor both were selected to recieve the prestigious accolade.

Smith was selected for his recognition of significant service to the OMA, medical profession, and public at the community level.

“It’s a real honour to receive this award. It’s an honour to be recognized by the OMA,” Smith said.

Smith spent 36 years of his career as a consultant pediatrician in Orillia. During this time, he held various management positions at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) including vice-president of the medical staff, chief of neonatal and pediatric medicine, and program medical director.

“During my time, we were able to initiate a number of regional services including a pediatric asthma clinic, a pediatric diabetic education centre, and a sexual assault and child abuse centre, just to name a few. I’m proud that we got the ball rolling on those initiatives,” Smith said.

“This award recognizes me for those things, but it should recognize my entire team of pediatricians in Orillia who I worked with for over 30 years, as well as all the nursing and respiratory staff …those people are a very important part of our team.”

After retirement from OSMH in 2016, Smith took on the role of chief of neonatal and pediatric medicine in Timmins for four years. He is now officially retired from his medical profession but remains involved in the Orillia community through volunteer work with the Mariposa PROBUS Club.

His fellow local recipient, Dr. Ron Taylor, also said he was ‘honoured’ by the recognition.

“It was very pleasant to receive the award. It’s given to doctors who have given a good service to their community and it’s an honour to have my services recognized,” Taylor said.

Taylor served OSMH as the hospital’s first orthopedic surgeon and began a practice that served many of the surrounding communities. Taylor remained the only orthopedic surgeon practising in Orillia until his retirement in 2012. 

“During my 38-year career in Orillia I treated fractures, joint replacements, microscopic surgery, anything to do with bones, joints, muscles, or tendons that were injured. I enjoyed being able to help people,” Taylor said.

“I never expected to receive this kind of recognition, but it is nice to have this award after serving so many years in Orillia. This is the icing on the cake to my enjoyable career.”

After retiring from OSMH in 2012, Taylor now spends his time cutting trails for the property he donated to the Couchiching Conservator. He is also a member of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble.

A third Orillia man was also recognized by the OMA. Fred Larsen earned the community service award.

“I’m very honoured to receive this award, and I’m very pleased with the recognition from my community and the people in the medical industry who nominated me,” Larsen said.

While Larsen is not a doctor, he has been involved in countless community initiatives over the years. The former Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute and Twin Lakes Secondary School English teacher for three decades is a member of Sustainable Orillia, a group whose goal is to create a more sustainable community. He is also chair of the board for the Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture, current president of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, and former president of the Orillia Kiwanis Club.

“The mandate of Kiwanis is to serve the children and youth of the community, and that involved donations to the hospital. We recently just agreed to donate about $40,000 over the next two years to buy some equipment for the Neonatal ICU department,” Larsen explained.

Under Larsen’s leadership, the Orillia Kiwanis has donated over $100,000 to OSMH’s Children’s Oncology Unit, and $75,000 to OSMH’s Pediatrics Unit for patient monitoring.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do through the Kiwanis Club to help local youth who need medical assistance,” Larsen said.

“I enjoy using my abilities to try to move things forward and make things better. This is a community that I’ve been a part of since 1971,” Larsen explained.

“I’ve always felt that Orillia is a special place, and I think that’s because of the number of volunteers in our community that do things for other people, so I’m glad to play a role in that.”

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