Local doc wins national award

Dr. Onuora Odoh recognized for widespread community involvement

Dr. Onuora Odoh, from the Houston Health Clinic, in his spare time was volunteering at Love by the Bowl soup kitchen. (File photo)

A Houston physician has received a national award for his health-related work within the area.

The Rural Community Impact Award presented to Dr. Onuora Odoh is a first for the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada and recognizes his widespread involvement on various initiatives.

“It is important to provide recognition to physicians who have done solid work and are so dedicated to their rural communities,” said Jennifer Barr, speaking on behalf of the society and its membership of more than 1,800 physicians across the country.

This new award grew out of an existing award recognizing physicians who make a contribution to rural medicine at a national level.

“While the submissions received were all great, the impact was more at a community level, and not nationally. Hence, the new Rural Community Impact Award,” Barr said.

In normal times, Dr. Odoh and other society award winners would have been recognized at a national event in April but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from happening this year.

In Houston since early 2016, Dr. Odoh quickly established a series of community-based health and wellness initiatives, emphasizing his philosophical foundation that exercise is an integral part of physical and mental wellness.

He’s sponsored a “Walk With Your Doc” program on behalf of the provincial Doctors of B.C. group which advocates on behalf of physicians and regularly conducts a group walk and exercise program.

And he’s partnered with the Faculty of Kinesiology at UBC to develop lifestyle summer camps for children to increase nutrition and physical activity.

Involvement with young people has reached into the classroom when in cooperation with the Faculty of Dentistry at UBC, a program was developed to emphasize oral health.

“One of the benefits of the program were the resources that were distributed to students,” said Dwayne Anderson, the vice principal for Houston Secondary School and Twain Sullivan. “Toothbrushes, toothpaste as well as information was presented to students.”

“Dr. Odoh’s commitment and work ethic towards the health of our community is evident and appreciated,” Anderson added.

Within the broader community, Dr. Odoh responded to the opiod crisis by helping establish a local Narcotics Anonymous presence and he also provides support for Alcoholics Anonymous.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Odoh has been recognized for his community work.

Together with four other northwest physicians, two awards were won for introducing the Canadian Health Advanced by Nutrition and Graded Exercise (CHANGE) program which involved physicians, kinesiologists and dietitians to bring life-style changes to individuals to diminish or even reverse the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

On a professional level, Dr. Odoh teaches medical students through the UNBC Northern Medical Program and works with nursing students rotating through the Houston Health Centre.

He also volunteers with the local soup kitchen and writes a monthly column for Houston Today.

Dr. Odoh was nominated by Colleen Enns, the site administrator for Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital in Castor, Alberta.

“With such great evidence of dedication that has certainly made an incredible impact on his community, as well as provincially, and nationally, I hope you will consider Dr. Onuora Odoh as a very deserving candidate for the Rural Community Impact Award,” she wrote.

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