Royal Canadian Navy bestows Coastal co-senior medical director with title of Honorary Captain

Photo: Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific)’s Dr. Ross Brown receives an honorary Commanding Officer’s ball cap from Colonel Peckham, during Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific)’s Change of Command Ceremony that took place May 31, 2018.   

At a special event held in Victoria late last month, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)/Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific) bestowed Dr. Ross Brown, co-senior medical director at VCH-Coastal, with the title of Honorary Captain (Navy) (HCapt (N)).

Honorary Colonels and Captains (Navy) are distinguished Canadians appointed by the Minister of National Defence (the Honourable Harjit Singh Sajjan). They are leaders in their respective fields and take on the role of ambassador for the RCN to the Canadian people as a whole. Honourary Colonels/Captains (Navy) come from all across the nation and are an integral part of the military family, each one committed to making a difference for Canada through their support of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and in Dr. Brown’s case more specifically, the RCN and the Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Pacific).

It is a long-standing tradition that units within the CAF appoint Honorary members. These appointments are always given to personnel who embody the core CAF Military Ethos and Values (Integrity, Loyalty, Courage, Stewardship and Excellence).

“I am very honoured to receive this title and I am looking forward to offering service back to the military because the military has given me so much,” says Ross, co-senior medical director for VCH Coastal and a general surgeon and trauma surgeon. “I credit the experiences and training I received as a naval officer for preparing me for a career in medicine and surgery.  Furthermore, the operational deployments and the advanced clinical and leadership training that were supported by the CAF clearly shaped my career both in and out of uniform.”

Military career started in 1979

Ross joined the CAF in 1979 as a Maritime Surface Officer, posted to Esquimalt, serving in HMCS RestigoucheYukon and Qu’Appelle as a Navigating Officer from 1980-84. After working at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa for a year, he entered medical school at McMaster University and graduated in 1988. He then completed an internship at St. Paul’s Hospital before being posted to HMCS Provider as Medical Officer in 1989 and to the Base Hospital (1989-90) before returning to Vancouver for his General Surgery Residency at UBC.

He was posted to Halifax as a general surgeon at Stadacona Hospital 1990-91 and then returned to Vancouver as one of the first CAF specialist medical officers in Canada to be “embedded” into a civilian facility (Vancouver General Hospital- Trauma Services).

Launching the Canadian Forces Trauma Training Centre at VGH

When Ross returned to B.C. he was instrumental in establishing the Canadian Forces Trauma Training Centre (CFTTC-West), in partnership with VGH Trauma Services in 2001. It was the first centre of its kind in Canada before a similar one opened in Montreal.

The centre’s mandate is to facilitate trauma training for CAF physicians, physician assistants, and nursing officers. Many of Canada’s military medical personnel have been trained at the CFTTCs prior to their deployments.

Major Philip Dawe, Medical Director of the CFTTC-West, has known and worked with Ross for a number of years.

“This honorary appointment is – to say the least – a big deal, and a more fitting candidate would be hard to find,” says Major Dawe. “Capt(N) Brown has had a military career that’s been as long as it’s been accomplished. He is an Officer of the Order of Military Merit and is a recipient of the Canadian Forces Decoration. His arrival in Vancouver came at a critical juncture: the trauma program under the legendary Dr. Richard Simons was fairly nascent and Dr. Brown was his first fellow, then first partner. Capt(N) Brown can also take the lion’s share of the credit for establishing the CFTTC (W) which continues to train and prepare medical service personnel from across the country for overseas deployment.”

Major Dawe notes that this military footprint within VCH has been at the vanguard of a new wave of civilian-military co-operation throughout North America and Europe.

“As care for the wounded continues to gain more importance in both public opinion and policy, the mutual benefits of a robust civilian-military relationship have become increasingly evident,” he says. “On one hand, lessons learned from our overseas experiences are being delivered to our colleagues at home to enhance patient outcomes. On the other, our colleagues at home have helped us to get ready for those deployments by affording us cross-training and refresher opportunities to ensure we’re providing best-possible care to our troops in our limited-resource deployed environments. Capt(N) Brown should be extremely proud of his military career, and this appointment is a testament to his accomplishments.”

If all these accomplishments weren’t enough, Ross – thanks to support from the military – earned a Masters of Arts in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University (2002).

Seconded to VANOC

In 2010, Ross was seconded to VANOC to support the Olympic & Paralympic Games, managing the Whistler Polyclinic, which included the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU). In addition to his current clinical, academic and administrative work, Ross supports the Provincial Health Services Agency as a medical advisor to the MMU.

He completed two tours in Bosnia and three in Afghanistan (Kabul and Kandahar). In 2005, Ross retired as a regular member of the military and transferred into the reserves until mandatory retirement at age 60 a couple of years ago.

Being an HCapt (N) means Ross has actually been given a fourth “ring”. In other words, he has been promoted from a Surgeon-Commander to Honorary Captain (Navy).

“When I reflect on my life and career, I know I owe a great deal to the CAF and RCN. I look forward to the opportunity to give back and to serve again with this honorary appointment,” says Ross.

VCH pride

VCH is equally proud of Ross’s accomplishments.

“I want to congratulate Ross on this tremendous honour,” says Karin Olson, Chief Operating Officer, Coastal.  “I know that this honorary title carries special meaning for Ross, who has always been proud of his military career. We are lucky to have Ross at VCH Coastal, not only for his surgical skills but his keen leadership abilities and unflagging integrity. What the military has given Ross has also been a huge benefit to VCH over the years.”

 

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