AMGH welcomes Dr. Ford, the hospital’s new surgeon - Grant Haven
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AMGH welcomes Dr. Ford, the hospital’s new surgeon

AMGH welcomes Dr. Ford, the hospital’s new surgeon

By Kathleen Smith

Even though Dr. Jennifer Ford was working and living in the USA, she always had ties and an interest in Ontario health care. 

She always wanted to use her skills to best advocate for health care providers and patients, and now Dr. Ford is joining the staff at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital (AMGH) in Goderich. 

Moving back to Canada, specifically to Goderich, felt like coming home for Dr. Ford who grew up close to the area and remembers spending summer days around the beaches in Goderich, Grand Bend and Sauble Beach. 

“I have always loved this area and find it has only become more beautiful during my time away,” admitted Dr. Ford. 

“I always wanted to come back to Ontario, but regulations from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) made it very difficult.”

However, last March that changed and Dr. Ford’s credentials as an American Boarded Surgeon were recognized, and the job hunt began.

The position Dr. Ford has taken on at AMGH was one of the first job she saw posted and it jumped right out due to the location. 

Dr. Ford interviewed at a few other locations, but Goderich was the one that stood out. After Dr. Ford’s site visit, it was clear that all the care team members worked together to do the best for the patient. 

“There was an immediate welcoming atmosphere from providers, patients and the community,” said Dr. Ford.

“So far, I have found it lovely. Everyone has been so nice, helpful, and welcoming to both me and my family. The attitude in and toward health care in the USA is very different and quite strained. It is a welcome change to focus on medicine and patients.”

While there are issues with every system, Dr. Ford is happy to be back in the Canadian health system that supports health care as a right, not a privilege.

“The biggest challenge has been learning the new billing system and daily operations of the hospital, but my partners, especially Dr. Kittmer, have been so supportive, welcoming and helpful that I feel poised for success with their help,” added Dr. Ford. 

The biggest surprise so far has been how supportive the community has been. Dr. Ford feels so welcomed and the support motivates her further to provide the best care she can for everyone.

“I already see AMGH doing many great things with expedited admissions from ER, participating in weekly regional cancer care meetings, reporting to the cancer care network and implementing quality pathways,” explained Dr. Ford.

“AMGH has the highest polyp detection rate from colonoscopies in the province. That is something to be very proud of and demonstrates the staff’s commitment to quality.”

Dr. Ford grew up in rural Dutton/Dunwich area, where most of her family and extended family still resides. 

She attended McMaster University and majored in Biology, and from there attended St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada (West Indies). 

After completion of her studies there, Dr. Ford completed her general surgery residency at Ascension St. John Hospital and Medical Centre (A Level 1 Trauma Centre on the east side of Detroit). 

Dr. Ford graduated in 2018 and moved to Washington State (WA) with her spouse and began working as an attending surgeon. Her first job was in rural general surgery, which consisted of an elective practice combined with an emergency/trauma practice in Yakima, WA.

She was there until March 2020 when Ford transitioned to Kadlec Regional Medical Centre in Richland, WA as an Emergency General Surgeon. 

Is practice since 2018, Dr. Ford’s role in the last three and a half years has been in the more acute, emergency surgeon setting.

“My areas of interest are complex hernias, endoscopy, and advance laparoscopy,” admitted Dr. Ford, who has published multiple research papers in national and international journals.

Dr. Ford has also given numerous research presentations at local, regional, and international meetings. Furthermore, Dr. Ford co-authored a textbook chapter on peritoneal malignancies, and she remains active in medical student education. 

Dr. Ford was an associate clinical professor for Pacific Northwest University and Washington State University. She received the top clinical educator award in 2021 (for all faculty in the state of WA) and was a member of the medical school admissions from 2020-2023.

Dr. Ford also sat on the board of the Washington State chapter of the American College of Surgeons as a general member, until she left to return to Canada. 

Currently, Dr. Ford is completing her Executive MBA from Washington State University, and she anticipates being done by August 2024. 

Dr. Kittmer at AMGH recruited Dr. Ford and along with another partner, Dr. Daters, has made the transition easier for Dr. Ford. 

“They are both such great surgeons, I am lucky to be joining them,” remarked Dr. Ford. 

Dr. Ford hopes to continue the excellent care her partners have established at AMGH, which is a perfect example of how rural still means excellent care.

Dr. Ford aims to work hard to continue that mantra and apply her skills she’s obtained along the way. Furthermore, there are a few procedures Dr. Ford hopes to bring to the community so that more surgical options are offered at AMGH, which would mean less transfers out. 

“I hope to continue to build this program, educate, and create a positive experience for patients,” said Dr. Ford, who hopes to stay in Goderich forever. 

“I am beyond grateful that my daughter gets to grow up in this beautiful, friendly community.”

Dr. Ford’s first official day was January 2, 2024. Prior to that she was able to start assisting in the OR with Dr. Daters for a few cases, including their first C-Section together. 

Now that she has officially started at AMGH, Dr. Ford has seen patients in the clinic, and already seeing a variety of pathology and interesting cases.

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