“Hello beautiful colleagues.”
These three words were not only Dr. Elana Fric’s trademark salutation, but also her way of welcoming the voices and experiences of her colleagues in every email message she sent and every meeting she attended.
On December 21, 2016, staff, physicians, volunteers, friends, and patients came together at Scarborough and Rouge Hospital’s (SRH) General site to celebrate the life of their “beautiful colleague” – a family physician in SRH’s Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) – who passed away in early December.
The event included the donation of a special “angel tree” in memory of Dr. Fric by one of her patients, Laura Souhleris, and her family Ian and Anne Marie Hayes.
“After my first interaction with Dr. Fric, I was so excited and happy to have found a family doctor who was not only super intelligent, but also made an effort to make you feel important and make your concerns feel legitimate,” said Laura.
Laura explained that the donation of the angel tree is a “small token” to help Dr. Fric’s colleagues through the healing process. “I only met Dr. Fric three or four times, but I really did get such a great impression from her, so I can only imagine how much of a loss it must be for those closest to her.”
The tree, which was designed by artist Carolynn Tersigni, will have a special place each holiday season in the West Wing of the General site.
“Elana was a positive, outgoing, and enthusiastic person who was excited about fulfilling her career goals as a physician and teacher, and to be active in health policy and an advocate for patients and patient care,” said Dr. Larry Erlick, Chief of the DFCM.
Dr. Fric joined the DFCM in August 2015. Her clinical background included a Master of Public Policy from Duke University, an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the DFCM at the University of Toronto, as well as authoring or co-authoring a number of publications.
“We were so impressed with her, not only did we offer her the position of family physician, we also immediately offered her the position of Faculty Development Director for our University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine Family Medicine Academic Teaching Program at our hospital,” added Dr. Erlick.
In addition, Dr. Erlick supported the nomination of Dr. Fric to the Health Policy committee of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). She was also elected as a delegate to the OMA council representing Scarborough.
SRH’s DFCM will be establishing an annual award in the name of Dr. Fric, which will be presented yearly to one of the graduating residents in the program who demonstrates a commitment to improving refugee, immigrant, and women’s health – areas Dr. Fric was especially passionate about. The first award will be presented at the residents’ graduation in June 2017.
Dr. Fric’s intelligence and positive influence was also echoed by others who spoke at the December 21 event.
Dr. Wael Mahmoud, Dr. Fric’s resident, described her as a “role model family physician and teacher,” who was “so supportive with her patients and with me.”
As well, Maggie Keresteci, Executive Director of Engagement and Program Delivery at the OMA, read a eulogy that a group of Dr. Fric’s colleagues prepared for her funeral to honour “everything Elana taught us about being a friend, a doctor, a teacher, and a mom.”
The moving tribute ended with a simple statement. “We will remember her best by being more like Elana. Make someone think, make someone laugh, make someone smile. This is how we will remember Elana.”