Dr. Bonnie Henry; you are my new hero.

Jeff Angel

Jeff Angel
Principal at the Centre for Crisis and Risk Communications and President Angel & Associates

Firstly, a shout out to all public health officers that have done a herculean job throughout the novel corona virus outbreak (Covid-19) here in Canada. They include Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer for Canada and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Health Officer for the Province of Alberta. Both have done excellent jobs of giving daily briefings and leading us through best practices of how to protect ourselves during the out break: wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, cough into your sleeve, stop touching your face, stay home if your sick, etc.

However, I want to give special mention to a colleague of theirs, Dr. Bonnie Henry, who is the Chief Medical Officer for the Province of British Columbia. Not only has Dr. Henry done all of the above, she has been at the epicentre of the outbreak here in Canada and has provided not only fantastic leadership, but the empathy and humanity that is so desperately lacking in today’s leaders and so desperately needed in a country who’s population is genuinely frightened right now.

Last Saturday, at her daily press conference, Dr. Henry had to fight back tears for a couple of moments and then explained “It’s a very difficult time,” she admitted to reporters. “I’m feeling for the families and the people that are dealing with this right now.” https://bit.ly/2W1n1XW

Wow. When someone can make themselves as vulnerable and empathetic as Dr. Henry did, I’m in. Not only does she have the educational and professional background for her job, she also has gone above and beyond in her career before this outbreak (went to Uganda to help fight Ebola? That’s probably not on too many resumes, even medical ones.) Combine that with the sense of calm and her “things are under control demeanour”, then add in her soothing voice and cadence and delivery of all of her messages, and you have both a great communicator and leader.

But when you top that off with the humanity, vulnerability and authenticity that she expressed on Saturday; it’s beyond moving. That is just so rarely seen in today’s leaders that I’m absolutely in awe of her. Dr. Henry, if you asked me to follow you to the gates of hell, I would ask where do I sign up. Oh and Dr. Henry….you are my new hero.