New doctor impressed with clinic, community

Duane Hicks

Patients at the Fort Frances Community Clinic will notice a new doctor’s name on the wall there, as family physician Dr. Cynthia Saliba is on the job as of last week.
Dr. Saliba, who has recently moved here with her husband, Dave Van Dyk, was given a warm welcome by the medical community and other dignitaries last Wednesday during a meet and greet at Little Beaver Cultural Centre.
During an interview at that event, Dr. Saliba said there’s multiple reasons why she and her husband decided to come here.
“It was a challenging decision because there is such a great need for family doctors. My husband and I didn’t have anywhere that we needed to be, and we don’t have any kids right now, so we had a huge choice to make,” she said.
“But when we came here (earlier this summer) and Andrew (Hallikas) and Teresa (Hazel) took us out and showed us around, they were so welcoming. The people at the clinic were fantastic. You don’t really get that in a big city sometimes. Just the enthusiasm of the people—I think that’s a huge part of what drew us here,” added Dr. Saliba.
Dr. Saliba also noted that her husband is an elementary school teacher and there’s more opportunity for him to get a job here than in a city.
“It’s also close to home,” said the 26-year-old doctor, who was born in Ottawa, but grew up in Thunder Bay, where the rest of her family continues to live.
Dr. Saliba said Fort Frances boasts modern facilities, medical and otherwise, and that also was appealing.
“The new library was very, very impressive. My husband, Dave, was super-impressed by all the schools—the Smart boards in the schools and how advanced the schools were,” she mentioned.
“At the hospital, the emergency is all brand new, there’s great equipment, the new imaging equipment that you have—it was all appealing,” added Dr. Saliba.
“It’s just a great place,” said Van Dyk. “The scenery is great. It seems like a great place to raise children. And I know for myself, as a teacher, there’s a lot of opportunity for supply work. That’s why we came here.”
Although they only arrived in Fort Frances last Monday afternoon, Van Dyk said the community has been quick to greet them with open arms.
“Everybody has been super nice. Whenever we needed something, we had Andrew (Hallikas) and Teresa (Hazel) to talk to. It’s been fantastic,” he remarked. “Everybody we meet in restaurants, stores, any place is super nice to us.”
“We just want to thank the community for their welcome and all of the people here. It’s just been great,” said Dr. Saliba.
When it comes to leisure activities, Dr. Saliba said her husband’s an avid golfer (he has handicap of two), and she’s starting to get into it herself.
They also skate and rollerblade, and already have gym memberships to Energy Fitness.
Van Dyk also plays hockey, and noted that next summer, they’ll likely be bringing their boat up here from Thunder Bay.
Dr. Saliba recently completed her residency training at the University of Ottawa. Prior to that, she underwent med school training went to McMaster University in Hamilton, and before that, completed her undergrad studies at Lakehead University.
Dr. Saliba, who is now taking patients, said her first day of work last Wednesday was a good start.
“It was a great experience. I have to say that staff at the clinic are fantastic. They are so helpful. They made my day run so smoothly, more than I could have imagined,” she mentioned.
“I felt supported. There was always a physician around; if I needed a second opinion or help, they were always there,” added Dr. Saliba.
At the meet and greet last Wednesday, several guests shared a few words about the newest members to the community.
Wayne Woods, president and CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, welcomed Dr. Saliba and her husband, adding he hopes to learn some tricks from Van Dyk to improve his golf score.
Coun. Hallikas also greeted the couple, adding that Dr. Saliba has an older brother who is currently doing his residency in family medicine in the U.S. and a sister who is attending med school at McMaster University.
“We need to stay on the good side of this family,” he chuckled.
Dr. Saliba officially joined the Nelson Medicine Professional Group as of last Wednesday and is now working with the Fort Frances Family Health Team.
Appointments for Dr. Saliba may be directed to (807) 274-7741.