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Vancouver Island doctor honoured for lifetime achievement in palliative care

Lantzville’s Dr. Robin Love has made a name for himself on the Island and abroad
Dr. Robin Love with Dr. Chadani Vaidya, one of the first palliative doctors in Nepal. (Submitted photo)

A retired Vancouver Island doctor has received a lifetime achievement award for his work in palliative care.

Lantzville’s Dr. Robin Love was presented with the award, from the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, in Toronto. The 67-year-old recently retired from his position as medical director of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s palliative care program where he served since its inception in 1993.

Palliative care involves treating a person with serious illness using pain management and emotional support. While medication is usually the first thing people think of with palliative care, Love said communication is a vital part of the role.

The doctor first moved to Nanaimo in 1988 and opened a family practice. Seeing a lack of palliative care services available, in 1991 he opened the first palliative care consultation service in the community. Two years later, he was instrumental in opening a 12-bed inpatient palliative care unit.

READ MORE: Doctor awarded for palliative work

Outside of Nanaimo, Love has made 11 trips to Nepal working with palliative care teams in the region through Partners in Compassion – a relationship between the Nanaimo palliative care unit, Nanaimo community nursing, Nanaimo community hospice and the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital. Starting in 2005, Love mentored local medical staff on palliative care treatments. At the time, he said Bhaktapur teams had struggled with access to pain relief medication, but over the years it evolved to being a vital, and consistent, medical unit.

“What strikes me now is when we visit our colleagues in the palliative care unit at Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, the level of complex care for patients is so consistent – the nursing care, the attention to detail, and the advanced symptom management,” Love said in a press release. “The team is way beyond the basics of just giving morphine and haloperidol. They’re doing advanced pain management that anybody would be proud of.”

In 2016, Partners in Compassion joined the umbrella of Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration, and Love was recently appointed a director with that group.

Although he’s now officially retired, Love said he still intends to make a 12th trip to the region.

“Each time I come back home, I’m incredibly grateful for the country we live in, the hospitals we have, and the care we have. It also reinforces that it’s the same principles of care no matter what culture or who the people are. It’s kindness, treating people with respect, looking them in the eye, and giving bad news compassionately.”

The lifetime achievement award serves to “recognize individuals who have made a sustained and lasting contribution to palliative medicine” and to the society of palliative care physicians.  

Jessica Durling

About the Author: Jessica Durling

Nanaimo News Bulletin journalist covering health, wildlife and Lantzville council.
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