BARRY’S BAY – A new family physician will be joining the team at St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) come March 2014.
Dr. Penny Forth signed a contract with the physician recruitment committee on September 18 at the Madawaska Valley Township office in Barry’s Bay. In return for four years of service, municipalities will chip in to help pay for her medical training.
Forth is in her second year rotation as a family medicine resident and will be finishing her studies this fall. After she is licensed, she will be packing up from Peterborough and moving to the area with her husband Craymer, a retired professor from Cambrian College in Sudbury.
“Coming to Barry’s Bay fits us to a T,” she said.
They have three grown children, two boys and a daughter. The Forth’s have one grandchild, who is 16 years old and lives in Peterborough.
Prior to finding her calling as a doctor, Forth did some computer training at Cambrian College. After that, she became a massage therapist for 12 years.
She found clients were bringing bags of medication and reports and wanted to learn more.
“I didn’t have a clue what any of that meant but, I found I really wanted to know what that meant,” she said. “It was like the light bulb went on and it was just a small part of healthcare and I needed to know more.”
She completed her undergrad at Laurentian University in Sudbury and then went to medical school at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. She said she was lucky enough to get her first choice of residency through Queens University in Peterborough, where her daughter and grandchild were living.
There, she heard about SFMH through another doctor resident, Kendra Strong, who completed her rotation at the local hospital and is now living in British Columbia.
For the past 12 weeks, Forth has been working with Dr. Jason Malinowski.
She said she immediately felt a connection to the area and missed Barry’s Bay when she was away for any length of time.
“I just fell in love with the place,” she gushed. “Everywhere you look there is green and there is water, and deer and turtles that lay their eggs on the side of the highway.”
Forth was born on Vancouver Island and in Grade 3, moved to a small town in the Okanagan area in British Columbia.
“Nothing ever felt like home to me, even where I was born, it didn’t feel like home to me. I remember at 12 I kept thinking I am not settled yet,” she said. “I just knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.”
Forth said Barry’s Bay has that feeling of home.
See more in the September 25, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.