He’s a surgeon with a song.
And he hasn’t missed a beat in over 41 years; always singing, smiling and whistling while delivering extraordinary care and compassion to patients at Toronto’s Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH).
Dr. Robert Ogilvie is an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon; a father of four and a grandfather to 10 children. He credits the “tremendous support” from his wife Hazel and a balanced lifestyle to his long and rewarding surgical career.
“I’ve always paced myself,” says Ogilvie humbly; a Rhodes Scholar who was born and raised in Grenada, studying medicine at both the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and Oxford University in the United Kingdom. “I took work home in the evenings and I worked on the weekends but I made sure that I had an afternoon off in between to spend quality time with my family so I could enjoy all that life has to offer.”
At the beginning of this year, that lifestyle changed. Dr. Ogilvie – one of Humber River’s longest-serving surgeons and a pioneer of the Hospital – retired from surgery, closing the chapter on an amazing four decades of surgical success and a career that’s shown his remarkable dedication, professionalism and gentle nature in healing others.
“There is no finer gentleman than Bob Ogilvie,” says Dr. Bill Francis, a retired Obstetrician and Gynecologist and the first doctor to work at Humber River Regional Hospital. “I worked with Bob for over 40 years and everyone knows him as a modest, passionate surgeon; supportive, collegial and one of the nicest people around.
“Dr. Ogilvie is one of the kindest and most committed doctors I know,” says Cathie Watts, HRRH operating room Clerical Associate who’s worked alongside Ogilvie for 40 years. “He provided care to all four of my children and his singing and whistling creates a warm and inspiring work environment.”
“No matter the day or time, he always has a wonderful greeting for everyone,” adds Deborah Reccord, HRRH Operating Room Registered Nurse who worked with Ogilvie for the last six years. “Whether you are colleague, a patient or a student, Dr. Ogilvie takes an invested interest in who you are; where you are from and how you are doing. His patients love him and he provides remarkable continuity of care, often helping multiple family members, from one generation to the next.”
“Dr. Ogilvie has been caring for me and my family for over 35 years,” says Paul Valenti, a real estate lawyer and a former Vice Chairman of the Board of Humber River Regional Hospital. “His pleasant bedside manner and respect for his patients is second to none and he always takes the time to explain his treatment practices and procedures,” he adds. “This outstanding level of care is greatly appreciated.”
In addition to caring for patients, Ogilvie has contributed in many ways to Humber River, its programs and community. He completed a term as Chief of Surgery; he was an Ontario Medical Association Representative and he spent time visiting local schools, talking to children about his role as a surgeon and the hospital experience.
Ogilvie was also a strong supporter for the launch of Humber River’s Parental Presence and Participation for Induction (Hug and Hold) Program – a Child life initiative, in collaboration with HRRH anesthetists, surgeons and nursing staff, that allows a parent to be present in the operating room so they can provide comfort, support and coaching to their child during anesthetic induction.
“With Dr. Ogilvie as a leading supporter we were able to implement this unique and innovative Program, and see the successful results instantly,” says Alexandra Christofides, HRRH Child Life Specialist who works with HRRH surgeons, patient and families to facilitate the operating room experience. “With his warm, friendly approach and his natural ability to make children laugh and feel comfortable, it’s always been easy to see why Dr. Ogilvie is loved and admired by everyone,” she adds. “I feel honoured to have worked alongside such an accomplished, kind and modest man.”
While Ogilvie will continue to work in his medical practice and in the HRRH surgical clinic doing minor procedures he’s thrilled to be experiencing this new phase in his life.
“I am going to catch up on my sleep after almost 50 years of being ‘on call,’ ” says Ogilvie with his trademark smile. “I have the best of both worlds: continuing to help people feel better in my practice and spending more time with my family and on the golf course. Life is wonderful.”