Bonnie Henry is B.C.’s new top doctor.
Today (January 24) the ministry of health announced she’s been appointed provincial health officer.
"Dr. Henry has hands-on experience in managing large-scale public-health issues both internationally and here in B.C.," health minister Adrian Dix said quoted in a media release. "She has a consistent approach with providing straightforward information to the public on the risks of Zika, or air quality, to controlling issues that affect families daily, like influenza. With Dr. Henry, we have a direct and experienced advisor to steer and improve public health in our province."
Henry is a medical doctor and clinical associate professor in UBC's school of population and public health. She's held the rank of deputy provincial health officer since August 2014.
The announcement means Dr. Perry Kendall is finally retiring.
He’s held the position since 1999. Kendall previously announced his retirement in 2014, only to change his mind and seek permission to continue as provincial health officer.
“I felt really reinvigorated when the deputy said: ‘Yes, we welcome you to come back,’ ” Kendall told the Times Colonist in June 2015. “I got a whole new surge of energy and enthusiasm.”
Kendall’s final years on the job coincided with a rise in drug-overdose deaths to numbers that were previously unimaginable. From 2001 to 2010, there were an average of 204 fatal overdose in B.C. each year. In 2017, it’s expected that number surpassed 1,400.
The release notes that Henry has now inherited this crisis.
“Together, Dr. Henry and Dr. Kendall are credited with earnestly working together to fight one of the deadliest challenges facing British Columbians today, the overdose crisis,” it reads.
Kendall is quoted giving her a vote of confidence.
"Dr. Henry has been an incredibly strong support for me in my role as provincial health officer and filled in for me countless times when I was unavailable," he said. "I feel confident that Dr. Henry is the right person for this job. I have relied on her judgment and approach regularly during her time as deputy provincial health officer."
The office of the provincial health officer is tasked with monitoring public health and providing advice to the health minister.
Kendall is scheduled to officially leave the office and see Henry take over on January 31, 2018.