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40 years of Proud History as an Emergency Department Physician

40 years of Proud History as an Emergency Department Physician

September 09, 2022

The Emergency Department (ED) at Burnaby Hospital is the second busiest in the Fraser Health region, providing medical care for more than 83,000 visits each year in a space intended to treat 54,000.

“There is a real sense of camaraderie among the staff in the ED,” says Dr. Brian McGowan, who has worked as an Emergency Physician at Burnaby Hospital for 40 years. “The physicians, nurses, therapists, and other staff all pull together as a team. It’s a great place to work.”

“In Emergency Medicine, you never know what you will come across next. Things can change rapidly, from cases that you see daily to standard procedures. For example, it is common to do a lot more bedside ultrasounds now. New ED Physicians are trained to do so and that was not the case when I started in the ED. With these changes, we also require different and upgraded equipment.”

“The new Emergency Department will have the very latest equipment and technology,” affirms Dr. McGowan, who is also the Physician Lead for the Burnaby Hospital Redevelopment Project. His role in the redevelopment project provides leadership and oversight with 30 other physician advisors to ensure that patient demands and clinical needs of medical providers will be met.

Dr. Brian McGowan goes on to say, “Thanks to donors, we are supplied with new equipment such as a new ultrasound machine to assist in providing emergency care, but due to space constraints, much of this equipment is stored in nooks and crannies. It’s not always convenient, but we make it work.”

Included in phase one of the redevelopment is a bigger emergency department with an increase of treatment bays from 72 to 82. This will mean increased access to private treatment spaces in a timelier manner.

“I am excited about the coming improvements to the ED,” he adds. “But I am also passionate about our plans to add new Emergency Physicians with subspecialty training. Emergency Medicine is really about people helping people and we have such a talented and cohesive team in our ED, and throughout the hospital.”

“I followed in my dad’s footsteps,” says Dr. Zoe McGowan, who has been practicing Emergency Medicine at Burnaby Hospital for about four years. “As a child, my dad would come home with interesting stories about working in the ED. It was obvious that he loved his work, he enjoyed the people he worked with, and it gave him real satisfaction to help the people in our community. And that continues to this day.” 

The father-daughter physician duo are passionate about Emergency Medicine because it includes such a variety of practices. They both agree that Emergency Physicians need to be creative, flexible, and open-minded and that the upgrades to the ED will make it easier to provide the best emergency care possible. A modern ED will also help attract new physicians, nurses, and other care staff with varied specialties and experience to their department.

“In Burnaby and East Vancouver, patients and their families are always very thankful to receive service from us,” shares Dr. McGowan. “Even though work can be tough, receiving a simple thank you after assisting a patient, someone who I may have seen for the first time, or over many decades, is extremely gratifying.”