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Martha Donnelly

$7,090.00 (raised so far)

About Martha Donnelly

A long-serving member of the Department of Psychiatry in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Martha Donnelly passed away on January 10, 2019. She was a pioneering geriatric psychiatrist, a leader within geriatric mental healthcare communities in BC and across Canada, and a cherished colleague and friend to many.

Dr. Donnelly joined the UBC Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Family Practice in 1987. As an Associate Professor, she was very active in the affairs of the faculty, serving as the Division Head of Community Geriatrics in Family Practice from 1987 to 2012, the Division Head of Geriatric Psychiatry from 2002 to 2013, the Associate Head of Clinical Affairs from 2007 to 2013, and the Director of the Subspecialty Residency Program for Geriatric Psychiatry from 2011 to 2016.

Under her leadership, and in large part due to her unwavering commitment and dedication, the department saw the expansion of the geriatric curriculum and enhanced delivery of its geriatric psychiatry education programs. As chair of the UBC Medical School Program Curriculum Evaluation Committee, she oversaw the successful transition from the old to the new medical school curriculum. Externally, as president of the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry from 2004 to 2008, she participated in the development of national goals and objectives for geriatric fellowships, also playing a key role in the application process and granting of the department’s sub-specialization status in Geriatric Psychiatry in 2009.

As a physician, Dr. Donnelly was a tireless advocate and a champion for senior patients and their rights, seeking to bring the best care for this vulnerable population. Notably, her advocacy and expertise helped to inform the framework of the Adult Guardianship Act of BC. She strongly emphasized geriatric psychiatry and family practice collaborative care for the elderly, both inspiring and encouraging training in mental health for family physicians interested in this field. In recognition for her lifelong achievement, she was awarded the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry Outstanding Contribution to Geriatric Psychiatry Award in 2009, and the Vancouver Medical Association Primus Inter Pares Award in 2010.

Dr. Donnelly was also awarded the UBC Killam Excellence in Teaching Award in 2010 for her significant contributions to education within the faculty. She was a beloved teacher who taught a generation of family physicians and psychiatrists in BC, many of whom have risen to important roles in both clinical service and teaching in the province, and whom are indebted to her for her invaluable guidance and mentorship. She will be missed by her family, by everyone at the UBC Department of Psychiatry, the Department of Family Practice, the many other disciplines dedicated to community-based care of the elderly and by all who knew her.

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The impact of your support

In Martha’s memory, the Martha Donnelly Memorial Fund has been established at the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

Your gift will pay tribute to Martha’s life and contributions to her field, by supporting educational and community engagement activity related to community geriatrics and geriatric psychiatry.

Messages of Remembrance

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  • Martha was such an amazing advocate for seniors/students/colleagues and a wonderful mentor. She seemed to have unlimited energy, can-do –attitude and optimism in the most grounded and practical sense of the word. Her untimely death is a terrible loss for community geriatrics.

    Ted Rosenberg, Colleague
  • As a person, Martha was calm, patient and always willing to share her knowledge. As a professional she was brilliant, caring and inspiring. She made significant inroads into knowledge, competencies, and understanding of older people in general, and older people with mental health and cognitive issues in particular. She has made a deep and lasting impression on me in terms of how to be a leader. She was an amazing colleague and mentor! Condolences to her family and friends.

    Shannon Berg, Colleague
  • Martha made a unique contribution to community-facing geriatrics in BC. Her generosity and ability to establish and nourish Community Geriatrics, in the face of political pressures, was singular. I doubt very much that anyone else could have achieved what she did as a leader and an influence-for-good for community-dwelling frail failing older people. She had the capacity to be inclusive and welcoming in her ability to unite people. One could not help but be inspired by her example, and by her preoccupying and abiding concern for the well-being of ailing seniors. She was a true champion, blessed with clear-sightedness and with devotion to others. We will not see her like again.

    David Brook, Colleague
  • I always held Martha in the highest regard. Some years ago, when a Special Populations Fund was available upon application, Martha and I were each told that we would get funded if we combined our projects. Over a glass of wine at the Golf Club, we did just that and I learned so much from her during our work together. We ran into each other over the years until I retired from UBC in 2015. I know she will be sorely missed – she was amazing.

    Lesley Bainbridge, Colleague
  • The UBC Department of Family Practice Community Geriatrics wishes to honour Dr. Martha Donnelly for her caring, dedication, and humour. Martha Donnelly was a remarkable force for seniors’ advocacy. To her patients, Dr. Donnelly gave the most compassionate care. To her many students, she gave an abundance of her time, personal interest, and an infectious enthusiasm for the art and the science of caring for the elderly. Dr. Donnelly was a path-breaker in advocating for team-based care. She recognized the power of collaboration between physicians, nurses, and other health care providers in building capacity to provide good seniors’ care. Perhaps more importantly, Dr. Donnelly recognized the central role of recipients of care and their families in co-creating “good care” and made a point of including these voices in her teaching presentations. Dr. Martha Donnelly will be greatly missed!

    UBC Department of Family Practice Community Geriatrics, Colleagues
  • I was privileged to be one of Martha's colleagues on Ward West Two at UBC at the start of our residency in psychiatry in 1980. We bonded immediately and thereafter. I will miss her much, and cannot put into words what she meant me. She embodied a kind of integrity and steadiness that inspires most of us to ask: What do we value? What are we willing to ask of ourselves to strive for it? We love you, Martha. See you when we all must.

    Shebehram Lohrasbe, Friend
  • Martha was my mentor and a great source of inspiration. Her knowledge in medicine and passion for teaching had a tremendous influence on me and many others. I still find myself in the habit of walking down the hall to her old office looking for advice. She is greatly missed.

    Conrad Rusnak, Colleague
List of Donors
All Donors
  • Dr HMR Meier

  • Staff at the Public Guardian and Trustee

  • Sunny Virk

  • Dr. Conrad Rusnak

  • Soham

  • Anonymous Donation

  • Anne Martin-Matthews

  • Marnie Coulson and Chuck Grawburg

  • Dr. Carol Ward

  • Bob Wakefield

  • Elisabeth Drance

  • Anonymous Donation

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