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Do you have a Department of Family Medicine memory you would like to share?  Please submit a memory to our Communications Team!

Listed below, you will find a selection of memories shared by past faculty and staff. Keep checking back for updates!


Betty Ho

Celebratory review of our achievements in the academic department of Family Medicine

Dr. Cheryl Levitt, Department Chair, offered me the position of Department Manager in 2001.  I recalled at the time of my arrival, Dr. David Chan met me with a warm welcome and commented that “it is their loss and our gain.”  Thank you, David, for the vote of confidence.

Key Initiatives in 2001-2005:

  • The department under the leadership of Dr. Levitt took advantages of the many challenges and opportunities that surfaced during this time. One of the key objectives at the time was to meet the Ministry of Health’s mandate to increase residency training to a new quota of 100.

The key mission in the academic department is the training of family doctors.  In 2001, the department spent great effort on the following initiatives to achieve the expansion of residency training:

  • Identified the resources required to meet the new training quota.
  • Developed a budget tool to calculate the unit cost for each training component from faculty recruitment to the eventual establishment of the distributed learning sites.
  • Levitt succeeded to negotiate for a budget increase. This process put the department in good financial standing. It provided good grounding for the development of the Alternate Funding Plan.
  • The new quota of training 100 residents was met within the MOH’s timeline.
  • Steve Lloyd was appointed the Finance Director to assist with budget processes, variance reporting, clinical practice plan. Fortunately, Jeanette Baynton, my valuable past associate from MUMC Finance Department, whom I recruited to help for a few weeks with the finance committee, ended up staying as the supervisor. Dr. Lloyd nurtured the team members and provided much fun for the group.
  • Levitt firmly supported the development of OSCAR, the open source electronic health information system created by Dr. David Chan. Dr Chan was appointed the IT Director to implement the deployment to the clinical units.
  • The establishment of the Maternity Centre and the appointment of Dr. David Price to the leadership role of Program Director added to the importance and the successes of the department.


Dr. David Price, Chair of DFM, for your success in obtaining funding and support to develop a dedicated building to house the three components required of an academic department namely education, research and patient care in one location, the David Brailey Health Centre. Now the department is firmly perched on the ‘three legged stool’. Congratulations Dr. Price for this success.

The publication of Dr. Levitt and co-author Linda Hilts “Quality Book of Tools” garnered international collaboration and fame. QBT has since been translated into a number of languages and have been adopted by those users. I am proud to be part of the team. Thank you, Dr. Levitt for this opportunity.

OSCAR has gained importance and reputations throughout the health care community. Patient Care Automated System presented the collaboration project to implement their PharmaTrust, automated medication dispensing system, using OSCAR as the platform.

The department gained firm footings in receiving research funding for a number of important projects in the community.

In Appreciation of our ‘Family” tradition

The culture in the department is very much ‘family’ oriented. The faculty and management team are nurturing, respectful and caring of the team members.

Many times the team leaders,  Dr. Levitt, Dr. Lloyd and Dr. Liz Latimer(fun pool party) etc  would host meetings in their homes and provide nourishment for the members. I remembered all the fun and laughter. Good team building effort.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the department for giving me this exciting opportunity to work with such a dynamic group of faculties and staff, and to participate in the continual growth and successes that the team has garnered under the leaderships of Dr. Levitt and Dr. Price.

Thank you for offering me your support and connect with me as friends and colleagues. We had lots of fun working together for this number of years.




Dr. Allyn Walsh

Profile picture of Allyn Walsh.Role Models and Mentors

Throughout my time in medical school in the early 1970’s, I had a continuing nagging discomfort about my choice of career. I knew I wanted to be a physician, and was prepared to do whatever it took to learn how to become one. But I struggled to find a physician that I could identify with. Some one to emulate, someone that I could see myself becoming: I just couldn’t see myself in the physicians I was learning so much from.

That is, until I arrived at McMaster, and the Henderson Family Practice Unit, three months into my internship. I was assigned to Dr. Jacqui Wakefield’s team and in very short order, I knew I had found my calling at last.  Jacqui’s knowledge was enormous and her application of it inspiring. Her understanding of her patients and how to meet their needs was deeply comforting to me – this was how I thought medicine should be practiced. This is what I had heard about, read about, but never seen in action. This was someone to learn from and emulate.  Jacqui had a young family, and was both an amazing clinician and an outstanding teacher. She was involved in academic medicine and program and teacher development.  I saw what was possible and it just felt right. I seized the opportunity to spend three years under her supervision but she has been a role model and mentor for me throughout my career.

The other family physicians and nurse practitioners provided high quality care and teaching too: Jack Marlow, Cliff Reid, Ron McAuley, Judy MacLeod, Barb Intine, Lois Epps all stand out for me. Peter Rosenbaum provided pediatric consultations, Art Lesser led us in slightly terrifying but incredibly powerful behavioural science sessions, and Don Rosenthal provided dermatology sessions.  This was a truly golden learning environment. I transferred into family medicine as soon as I could, and my life was changed. I had found my career.

Jeannette Baynton

Dr. Cheryl Levitt is the person whom I think of when I think back on my early years in Family Medicine.  She was the original driving force that enabled the transition of a rather small department into what it is today.   This set the stage for the positive relationship Family Medicine has within McMaster University and the Hamilton Community at large.

Dr. Levitt fought long and hard to change the complex funding formula and base funding revenue received from the Ministry of Health to train our medical residents.  Her involvement and confident approach to this issue was integral in getting the provincial revenue changed, which then began the increase to the number of Family Medicine residents currently being funded today.  This eventually led to the many Family Medicine satellite sites being developed, which are now part and parcel of the extended McMaster University Family Medicine Resident Training Program.

Rev. John O’Connor

Dr. O’Connor with the first class in the new University of Guyana’s Master of Medicine, Psychiatry.

I Remember…

I arrived as the Chaplain for MUMC in 1978.    Quickly, I got involved with the university students and residents teaching in the areas of death and dying, spiritual care, and psychosocial issues in intensive care areas.    I provided an active leading role for the Clinical Ethics Committee under the leadership of John Hay.    It was John who invited me to apply for a university appointment.   Until then, all the university appointments for psychosocial health professionals were done through Psychiatry; I preferred a more holistic approach to understanding human beings as in the definition of Family Medicine.   I approached Carl Moore who was the Head od Family Medicine when I applied and I was accepted in 1984.    I know I wasn’t the first non-physician appointment; there was a professional from Bioengineering.

Through the 20 years plus that I was active all the Heads of the Department supported me other chaplains and the mission of Chaplaincy Services.     Even after I retired from the hospital, I continued to receive support for my work in Guyana teaching nursing students and psychiatry residents.   It has been one of the honours and a gift to my life to be a faculty member and to know so many excellent physicians.

Linda Hilts

Linda Hilts

I look back on my years working in the Department of Family Medicine as some of the most satisfying of my nursing career. I started in 1998 after coming back from a break year. I played many roles over the years from a family practice nurse at Stonechurch, Education Coordinator for Stonechurch, to Family Health Team Coordinator. Through those years I enjoyed working in resident education at many levels and remember many of them fondly .

I acted for over 15 years as the Nursing Consultant to the Quality in Family Practice Research Project, which allowed me opportunities to  work with many colleagues across the country and overseas, promoting quality improvement work in family medicine.

As always the most important part is the people. I feel privileged to have worked with so many committed and dedicated clinicians many of whom I have maintained long term friendships through my retirement.

Carol Ridge

Carol RidgeEach person experiences pain differently and it is real to them

The most profound and lasting moment during my time at DFM, a huge learning moment for me, and one that I believe made me a better person, took all of 15 minutes. It was a two minute observation of a patient, followed by a relatively short conversation with one of the physicians.

I did administrative work at the teaching clinics, behind-the-scenes, and did not regularly interact directly with patients. One early afternoon I was at the front desk and overheard a patient, wailing, pleading with a receptionist to get her in to see her doctor because her wrist really hurt. The anguish in her voice had grabbed my attention. She was very upset, almost crying, waving her hands – and her sore wrist – around as she talked. I wondered why she was making such a fuss. It didn’t look like a big deal to me.

A little later that day I came across Dr Les Lee and asked him how he handled patients who said they were in pain but weren’t really. (A short aside – it was also Dr Lee who sat with me during a lunch hour and patiently taught me how to use a computer mouse when they first came on the market).

His answer, “It’s real to them. Each person experiences pain in their own way”. Click. Wow. Immediately I thought of all kinds of reasons why that patient could have been so upset, related to a sore wrist, but maybe not. And in that moment I also realized that the job of Dr Lee and the other health care professionals in our clinic was – to hear the patient’s truth, hear their story.

This empathy lesson has stayed with me and affected all aspects of my life as I interact with family and friends and strangers. It helped make sense of behaviour that before I would find bewildering. It opened my eyes wide to, and brought into my consciousness, the fact that each person has their unique life experiences and stories. I became more empathetic, less judgmental, a better person.

Over and over throughout my DFM years, in unexpected moments, I learned from my wise and thoughtful and caring colleagues. How lucky for me!

“If you have any pictures you’d like to send along at the same time, please do so”, Jennifer said.

How to choose?!? So many “moments”! I keep coming back to fun ones, because having fun with colleagues is what kept me happily within DFM’s clutches for so many years…

Carol Ridge
Carol wore this on the day she was asked by Dr Jacqueline Wakefield if she would like to be Manager of SFHC, and many years later at MFP on her last day of work before retirement.


McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine