Dr. Natalie Bocking has begun her role as the new medical officer of health for the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

Prior to her official start date of April 6, Dr. Bocking has been sitting in on meetings during the past few weeks, meeting with her staff, and learning more about the area and the health unit’s pandemic response,” a spokesperson said in a media release.

Dr. Bocking said she is eager to meet more of the community partners who work with the health unit to protect the health of area residents.

“I am looking forward to building relationships with our partners, our stakeholders and our board so that we can work together and continue to make a difference in the communities that we serve,” Dr. Bocking said.

“Community partners are vital to the work that we do. This is a team effort. A lot of the problems that public health is tackling are huge and it would be impossible without our community partners.”

Dr. Bocking is a public health and preventive medicine specialist and was certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2015 following the completion of her specialty training at the University of Toronto. Dr. Bocking’s academic training also includes a Medical Doctorate from McMaster University and Master’s in International Public Health from the University of Sydney, Australia.

She spent four years working as a public health physician with Thunder Bay District Health Unit and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. In her role, she supported the development of a community based First Nations-governed public health system for 31 rural and remote First Nations. This included overseeing tuberculosis and hepatitis C programming, population health assessment, and maternal and child health support.

In addition to her work in public health, Dr. Bocking has worked as a locum family physician in northwestern Ontario. She has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at provincial and national conferences.

“I went into public health because I thought that some of the issues or health problems I was seeing in family medicine really could have been addressed so much more effectively at a population level and that was really where public health fit for me,” she said.

Dr. Bocking is assuming her new role after former medical officer of health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy retired in December. Dr. Ian Gemmill had been serving as acting medical officer of health in the interim before Dr. Bocking assumed the role.

Born in London, Ontario, Dr. Bocking, her husband and two children moved to the City of Kawartha Lakes in 2019 to her husband’s family farm, which he now operates.

A short, introductory video can be found at https://youtu.be/ UrnnOM7tLVc.

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