It is with great honour that the RGP names the keynote lecture at its annual general meeting the “Rory Fisher Lecture.” Dr. Rory Fisher, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, contributed a legacy of more than 40 years of dedicated service to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the University of Toronto and the field of geriatrics.
Dr. Fisher can be credited with building the foundation of Ontario’s geriatric services. In the early 1970s, Dr. Fisher introduced innovative programs to care for veterans in the community by improving their functional abilities through the use of a multidisciplinary team approach. He started Ontario’s first geriatric day hospital, followed by geriatric assessment and rehabilitation units and an intermittent admission program, as well as respite and palliative care services. He established an acute geriatric unit, specialized outpatient geriatric and continence clinics, and a geriatric outreach program. In addition, an interdisciplinary geriatric consultation service provided access to geriatric expertise throughout Sunnybrook, including a dedicated geriatric orthopaedic link. These services later became foundational components of specialized geriatric services deployed throughout the RGPs in Ontario.
For over seven years, he served as Program Director of the RGP of Toronto and Chair of the Regional Geriatric Programs of Ontario. He has not only worked tirelessly to ensure that care of older people is on the health care agenda, he has forged international relationships and has led in the field of geriatrics at the academic, provincial and national levels. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The medal honours the significant contributions and achievements of Canadians who have devoted themselves to the well-being of their fellow citizens, community and country. In 2013, he was awarded the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour.
His career achievements have carved the landscape of care for frail seniors in Toronto and Canada that we recognize as geriatric medicine today. The health care system is rediscovering many of the principles of health service provision that Dr. Fisher pioneered in the 1970s and 1980s. Those of us who work in geriatrics are reminded daily of the tremendous scope and impact of his contribution. Congratulations, Dr. Fisher!