Dr. Richard Stanwick to retire, Island Health begins search for new Chief Medical Health Officer

After dedicating more than 25 years of service to the population and population health of residents in the Island Health region, Dr. Richard Stanwick will be retiring as Island Health’s Vice-President, Population Health and Chief Medical Health Officer effective December 31, 2021.

“On behalf of the province, I’d like to thank Dr. Stanwick and acknowledge his contributions to Island Health and our health system as a whole,” said Adrian Dix, Health Minister. “Dr. Stanwick has played a pivotal role in keeping our community safe through our province’s two ongoing health crises – the COVID-19 pandemic and the toxic drug supply. You need tenacity to make change, and you have led with tenacity.” 

“Richard’s passion, compassion and relentless drive to improve the health of all people we serve – and in particular his respect for and commitment to underserved and vulnerable populations - has intertwined to the point that they are just simply part of his DNA,” said Kathy MacNeil, Island Health’s President and CEO. “I am deeply grateful for all he has done to make our communities a better place to work, live and play, and Island Health a better organization through his contributions.”

Dr. Stanwick came to B.C. in 1995 from Manitoba, where he spent five years as the Medical Health Officer for the City of Winnipeg.

Dr. Stanwick took on many campaigns over the past 25 years; first in 1995 as the Medical Health Officer for the Capital Regional District, from 1997 as Medical Health Officer for the Capital Health Region, and then since 2001 as Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer.

Many of these campaigns faced criticism, and even opposition, when he began to advocate for change. However, as we look back now at the change over the space of time, we know these changes made a substantial improvement in population health.

More recently – as we have faced the dual public health emergencies of the toxic drug supply and COVID-19 – Dr. Stanwick has again co-led our responses and served as a trusted voice to help people and communities understand our shared challenges, and encourage actions we can all take to protect and support ourselves, those we care for and about, and the communities we live in. 

“Dr. Stanwick’s well-considered, insightful perspectives, wisdom and, at just the right times, much-valued humour have made a positive and lasting impact, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic and toxic drug crisis we are currently facing, but in the many years that all of us in public health have had the honour of working with him. It is with heartfelt gratitude that I thank him for his public service and invaluable contributions to the health of all people in our province,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial health officer. 

Over the next two months, Island Health will take the time to more fulsomely recognize and thank Dr. Stanwick for his extraordinary career. We will also embark on an international search for Island Health’s new Chief Medical Health Officer.

“Right now my focus continues to be on our dual public health emergencies of the drug poisoning crisis and our COVID-19 response, and this will continue to be my focus until my retirement at the end of December,” said Dr. Stanwick. “I very much appreciate the kind words I have already received and I look forward to publicly sharing some reflections on my career as we get closer to the end of December.”