Dear Department members,
It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the passing of Dr. Martha Donnelly on January 10, 2019. She was a long-serving Department of Psychiatry member of the UBC Faculty of Medicine, 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.
Furthermore, Dr. Donnelly was 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.
We convey our sincere condolences to the family on behalf of myself and all members of the UBC Department of Psychiatry. A memorial gathering is planned in the near future and we will communicate further about this as the information becomes available. The Department has created a link https://psychiatry.ubc.ca/2019/01/10/donnelly/ for the members to share their memories about Martha and post comments.
Dr. Lakshmi N. Yatham, MBBS, FRCPC, MRCPsych (UK), MBA (Exec)
Professor and Head, UBC Department of Psychiatry
Director, Institute of Mental Health, UBC
Regional Head and Program Medical Director, VCH/PHC