Courtesy of the Government of BC:
Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin, on behalf of Premier Christy Clark, presented Dr. Michal Smialowski, a well-known Tatlayoko citizen, with the Province’s newest honour, the Medal of Good Citizenship.
Launched in July 2015 by Premier Clark, the prestigious Medal of Good Citizenship recognizes individuals who, through exceptional long-term service, have made outstanding contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward. The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life. Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year-round.
Dr. Smialowski was honoured with the medal for selflessly giving his time and expertise to the people of the West Chilcotin as well as being an effective advocate for improved health care and services in the rural area.
For the past decade, he has dedicated himself to providing medical care to residents who otherwise would have a six-hour round trip to Williams Lake to consult a physician. The role had him essentially on-call 365 days a year. He was British Columbia’s first volunteer Community Response Doctor with the BC Ambulance Service and was dispatched to many emergencies over the years ranging from home deliveries to critical injuries and urgent medical complications.
Among his many other contributions, Dr. Smialowski was instrumental in establishing the West Chilcotin Health Society (WCHS), which advocates for improved health care along the 500-kilometre stretch of Highway 20 between Williams Lake and Bella Coola, and educates the community on health issues. Since taking the role of chairman, more than $90,000 has been raised for medical equipment and the WCHCS has also partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to place automated external defibrillators (AED’s) in strategic locations throughout the Chilcotin region.
His service to community and countless hours of volunteering include efforts to have additional qualified health professionals serving the area. Before retiring, Dr. Smialowski and the WCHCS recruited a replacement physician, and the society successfully petitioned the Interior Health Authority (IHA) to place Tatla Lake on its physician manpower plan thus making it a permanent position. To attract future physicians to the area, UBC family practice resident doctors now spend a week working and travelling with the local physician as part of a three-month Williams Lake rotation.
Smialowski is among a select group of British Columbians who will receive the Medal of Good Citizenship over the next few months.
Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin said:
“Dr. Mike, as many in the Chilcotin know him, is a true champion for rural health care, relentless in his pursuit of better equipment and services for the citizens in the region. Although retired, he continues to be active in raising funds and awareness of health and safety needs in the region. His dedication, skills and passion have made a difference and show that he is a great citizen in every way.”
Dr. Michal Smialowski, Medal of Good Citizenship recipient, went on to say:
“I accept this Medal of Good Citizenship on behalf of all Chilcotin-based health-care professionals and allied personnel who understand the difficulty of working in geographic and professional isolation. They do this at significant personal sacrifice and without the same support enjoyed by their urban counterparts.
“The West Chilcotin Health Care Society raises funds to purchase new medical equipment. More importantly, it raises awareness of the necessity for all levels of government to engage in the delivery of rural and remote health care. In order to advocate for the local patient population, the society has formed important relationships with Interior Health, First Nations and the Cariboo Regional District.
“A special thanks to Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin, who has taken the time to listen and who has provided us with a conduit into the Ministry of Health.”