Dr. Stan Oleksinski didn’t see the recognition coming.
On Saturday, family, friends and dignitaries from Prince Albert’s healthcare community gathered to honour Oleksinski at the 2019 Victoria Hospital Foundation Doctor’s Gala. Although the announcement came back in December, it still took a while for the decision to sink in.
“I wasn’t expecting it in the least,” Oleksinski chuckled when asked his first reaction several months ago. “I took a step back and said, ‘wow, this is a great honour.’ I felt very blessed and humbled to get this award.”
Oleksinski’s roots run deep in the Prince Albert medical community. He first arrived in 1985 to set up a medical practice after graduating from university. He soon became a tireless advocate for patients and physicians, eventually becoming president of the Prince Albert Medical Association and the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
On Saturday, however, guests and family members were quick to point out that Oleksinski’s contributions extended beyond the medical world. Longtime friend Mitch Holash called Oleksinski a “quiet giant” and dominant basketball player. Holash said Oleksinski helped found and run a senior men’s league in the community, while also being a devoted family man and strong mentor for new physicians.
“Stan arrived in our town with a strong commitment to family medical practice from which he has never strayed,” Holash said during a speech at Saturday’s gala. “He has, with my family—as he has with so many other hundreds of families—served as a thoughtful, skilled, trusted, innovative and ridiculously available physician.”
For his part, Oleksinski credits his own family and healthcare mentors for his success. Although there have been many changes since he arrived in Prince Albert, the medical community has remained very close. On Saturday, he thanked his own mentors, like inaugural Doctor’s Gala honouree Dr. Louis Poulin, for their role in helping him become a strong physician and healthcare advocate.
“When we first started off it was a very good group here in Prince Albert, and it’s just expanded,” Oleksinski said.
He also thanked his family, including his wife Elizabeth and two children who attended Saturday’s gala. Oleksinski said the honour belonged to all of them, but especially his wife, for being solid rock in their relationship.
“I share this award with her,” he said during his own speech to attendees.
As for the future, Oleksinski said there is only one way this year can get any better, and that’s if the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatchewan Roughriders win the Memorial Cup and Grey Cup respectively.
He also said he’s blessed to be a part of the Prince Albert medical community, and thankful that he made the decision to start practicing in the area many years ago.
“Many kids dream of playing on an NHL team and hoisting the Stanley Cup,” he told attendees. “This is my dream: to be a physician. I truly feel blessed to be able to do this every day. I love what I do.”
Bad weather can’t keep gala attendees away
The festivities inside Plaza 88 for the fourth annual Victoria Hospital Foundation Doctor’s Gala went off without any problems, but getting to the building proved difficult.
Attendees were met with a late winter storm that pelted Prince Albert with snow and covered streets and parking lots with slush. Despite the bad weather, gala organizers say attendance was still as strong as it’s ever been, and that just shows the commitment Prince Albert residents have for the hospital and its charitable foundation.
“In this economy and in this weather, you never know what you’re going to get,” Victoria Hospital Foundation CEO Sherry Buckler said. “We’re just very fortunate that we have people who are passionate about their hospital.”
Final fundraising totals won’t be available until Wednesday at the earliest, but Buckler said they’re pleased with the early results. The event has become a way for many to support the foundation annually, while also honouring deserving healthcare professionals in the community.
“We’re really appreciative of everyone who supports our foundation,” Buckler said. “This gala really is a special event that brings everybody all together in one room and gives us an opportunity to catch up and visit as well as celebrate the doctor of the year, and at the same time, support the hospital, so it’s actually an event of solidarity.”