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Deputy provincial health officer to step into Island Health role

Dr. Réka Gustafson will be Island Health’s next chief medical health officer.
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Dr. Reka Gustafson, B.C.'s deputy provincial health officer, provides an update on COVID-19 on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Gustafson will be Island Health's next chief medical health officer. PROVINCE OF B.C.

Dr. Réka Gustafson, who as deputy provincial health officer led many of the province’s updates on the pandemic and toxic drug overdose crisis, will be Island Health’s next chief medical health officer.

Island Health made the announcement Tuesday. Gustafson replaces Dr. Richard Stanwick, who retired in January.

Gustafson plans to step down from her role with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Sept. 2.

She will lead the health authority’s public health teams as they respond to the toxic drug supply crisis and pandemic response and recovery.

Island Health president and CEO Kathy MacNeil said the health authority is fortunate to have “such an experienced provincial health leader join our organization.”

Gustafson has held senior leadership roles with the Provincial Health Services Authority, serving as vice-president, public health and wellness, and as deputy provincial health officer, providing leadership to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

She also served as medical health officer for the City of Vancouver and deputy chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health. She completed master’s degrees in science and health science and a medical degree at the University of B.C.

Stanwick served just over two decades as the Island’s chief medical health officer before retiring in late January. Dr. Murray Fyfe is the interim chief medical officer.

Gustafson will be taking the post during what public health officials and infectious disease modellers suggest will be a fall wave of COVID-19.

Pending the outcome of a national recruitment process to replace Gustafson, the B.C. CDC will be led in the interim by senior executive director Dr. Jat Sandhu and medical director Dr. Jason Wong.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com