Grateful for the opportunity

Dr. Randall Friesen speaks during the 2018 Victoria Hospital Foundation Doctor’s Gala at Plaza 88 on Saturday, April 7. Next year’s gala is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 2019. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

On an evening reserved for his recognition, Dr. Randall Friesen turned the tables and honoured everyone else.

Friesen took a modest approach to being honoured at the third annual Victoria Hospital Foundation Doctor’s Gala. Instead of soaking in the applause, he used the opportunity to thank his family, his colleagues and the Victoria Hospital Foundation for their tireless work.

The Victoria Regional Hospital’s long-time surgeon said a small part of him felt like he didn’t deserve the recognition, especially when compared to previous honourees like Dr. David Stevens and Dr. Louis Poulin. However, he was ultimately more than happy to accept.

“It is a little overwhelming (and) it’s a little humbling,” Friesen said during a short break at Saturday’s event. “I’m certainly no more deserving than many other people who are out there.”

Although Friesen didn’t hesitate to point to family members and mentors who helped him succeed in his chosen field, Saturday’s introductory speaker quickly turned the spotlight back in its original direction.

Victoria Hospital Foundation board member Dr. Khami Chokani, a close friend of Friesen’s, introduced the surgeon as a relentless worker who never hesitated to give his time and money to valuable causes.

“He’s become a very strong ambassador for supporting our local hospital,” Chokani said his speech. “This passion and commitment has not only inspired others to care over the years, but has translated into important tangible advancements in our hospital.”

After finishing his university studies, Friesen began practicing in Prince Albert in 1990. He never left the community, eventually becoming Senior Medical Officer with the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region in 2016.

Looking back on his career, Friesen said it was a privilege to practice in a city that welcomed him and his family right from the start.

“Medicine is opportunity on many levels and I’m very grateful to the foundation, and also to this community, for allowing me to do stuff that I really loved to do,” he said. “If it benefits others in the process, well, that’s just a massive bonus.”

Saturday’s gala raised roughly $70,000 for the Victoria Hospital Foundation. The funds will help purchase much needed transonic equipment for the hospital’s dialysis ward.

Friesen said foundation has been a pillar of the health community over the years, and added that he was thankful to be able to help however he could.

“For those of us who work in the hospital, (the foundation) is a huge encouragement,” he said. “When we need equipment desperately and we just don’t know how we’re going to find the money in the budget, the foundation comes along year after year with hundreds of thousands of dollars and says we’re going to help you guys get the stuff you need to do your work well. It’s a really big boost for morale.”

@kerr_jas •