Dr. Mike Benusic is taking over the medical health officer position at Island Health his former instructor Dr. Paul Hasselback held for close to a decade. (Submitted photo)

Health authority announces central Island’s new medical health officer

Dr. Mike Benusic replaces retiring Dr. Paul Hasselback

The region’s medical health officer retired earlier this month and Island Health has now announced a successor.

In a press release, the health authority which covers Vancouver Island said Dr. Mike Benusic will be stepping into the position. Benusic will take over the role his former teacher held for close to a decade, as he had Dr. Paul Hasselback as an instructor while a medical student at UBC.

Before joining Island Health, Benusic completed his final residency with Toronto Public Health, where he spent a majority of his time dealing with COVID-19, ensuring cases were isolated, managing outbreaks and tracing contacts, the press release said.

RELATED: Top central Vancouver Island health official retires

Benusic was born in Camrose, Alta., and spent time in 2016 working there as a family doctor during a locum.

“I have to say it’s a bit surreal now to be sitting on the other side of the desk,” said Benusic in the press release. “I’m not going to be able to fill Paul’s shoes, but I can use those paths he created to really hit the ground running in this new role.”

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, says while there are COVID-19 and opioid overdose emergencies front and centre, Benusic is ready for the role.

“We are fortunate to have Mike join our medical health officer team,” Stanwick said in the press release. “His arrival comes at time of great challenges, but also great opportunities for public health. Mike has figuratively been thrown into the deep end of the pool, but we have every confidence in his abilities to learn, grow and contribute as our newest MHO.”

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