The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is honouring its former Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jean-Robert Bourdeau, after his passing on January 15.
Dr. Bourdeau was Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU for nearly 22 years before retiring in March 2007. During his term, Dr. Bourdeau was the first in the province to change the health unit’s organizational structure to reflect the Ministry’s new mandatory programs in 1987.
Under his leadership, the EOHU adopted a multidisciplinary and population-based approach to health protection, health promotion, as well as disease and injury prevention. In fact, Dr. Bourdeau introduced the positions of Health Educator and Health Promoter to the province, and the EOHU was the first health unit to hire individuals who were qualified in health promotion and prevention.
Dr. Bourdeau was also passionately committed to reducing the use of tobacco and the impacts of second-hand smoke in the region. As a result, the City of Cornwall became the first municipality in the region to pass a bylaw to make all public places – including workplaces, bars and restaurants – completely smoke-free in May 2003.
Acknowledging the vital role that public health plays in keeping the community healthy and safe, Dr. Bourdeau commissioned the writing of a book titled “Primarily Prevention – A History of the EOHU 1935-2005.” The book sheds light on the EOHU’s contributions to the region and showcases the talent, dedication and unrelenting efforts of the great people who often toiled in the shadows to advance public health.
“Dr. Bourdeau was an innovator who worked tirelessly to improve public health in Eastern Ontario,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, current Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “On behalf of all staff and the Board of Health, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to Dr. Bourdeau’s family for their loss.”
In Dr. Bourdeau’s honour and memory, the EOHU will fly its flag at the Cornwall office at half mast during the week of January 20.