The pandemic has dramatically transformed the way we live, work and connect with each other, but few things have been impacted as significantly as local health care.

"We're very used to seeing patients on a continuing basis, so we know them well," reflects Dr. Leo Wong, physician at St. Luke Family Practice and board member for the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation. "Following public health guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we instantly suspended seeing patients in the office whenever possible, moving to telephone and video calls," says Dr. Wong.

This new approach did offer some benefits – patients could speak with their doctor from the comfort of their own home, for example.

However, virtual appointments also limit other vital communication clues between physician and patient.

"There's a lot of non-verbal information I get from patients and talking doesn't quite replace it," notes Dr. Wong, a family physician in Langley since 2004 who shares his practice with his wife, Dr. Flora Wong.

In addition to providing the continuity of care for patients of all ages, the physician also appreciates the opportunity to provide some stability and comfort for patients during an uncertain time.

"There's been a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty and a lot of unknowns. As physicians, we don't know much more than what people are hearing from health officials, but we are able to offer reassurance and a listening ear," he says. "To be able to provide some comfort is very rewarding."

Dr. Wong also salutes the medical community, which has come together to combat the virus.

"I see a lot of physicians who have stepped up and expanded the services they provide, or who have volunteered for COVID testing sites. Others have volunteered with flu shots and child immunizations, and during the first wave offered to provide extra support at the hospital."

Dr. Wong's personal commitment extends to his own philanthropy and his role with the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, which as a physician, offers a unique opportunity to share ideas and provide context for hospital needs or board initiatives.

"It's also important for my doctor colleagues to understand the role of the Foundation, and the need to donate, to volunteer and to be part of the leadership," he says, emphasizing that all funds donated to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation stay here in the community to enhance what's provided by the government.

"We want to build a sense of family and to take care of each other. I'm amazed at the Langley community and I feel very privileged to be part of that. I live in Langley, and my children go to school in Langley – this is very much my community."

For the holiday season, an anonymous donor has stepped forward to match all donations to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, up to $75,000. Donate today and your gift will have twice the impact, ensuring anyone who needs the hospital during the holiday season, and beyond, receives the best care possible. Learn more at www.lmhfoundation.com/match

As first published on Langley Advance Times