Dr. J.B. Wood honoured, remembered

Family members of the late Dr. J.B. Wood pose for a photo by a new special tribute to Wood at the J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre on May 28. Sitting left-right, are his children Allan Wood, Lorna Wood and Rodney Wood. Standing, left-right, are Alberta Health Services Area 6 director Janet Farney, Twice is Nice Boutique Society president Diana Oliver, Ken Tappay (Lorna’s husband), Linda Wood (Allan’s wife), great-granddaughter Gabrielle Wood, grandson Quinten Wood, granddaughter Gail Leclerc, Sharon Wood (Rodney’s wife), health complex interim site manager Samantha Nemec and High Prairie and District Museum Society executive director Darlene Adams.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The late Dr. J.B. Wood was honoured by the High Prairie community and his family at a special social tea May 28 at J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre.

The event was co-hosted by the Twice is Night Boutique Society and the High Prairie and District Museum Society. They partnered to place a visual memorial in the west entrance Feb. 7 to honour the legacy of Dr. John Barrett Thornton Wood, who was a doctor in the High Prairie region for 47 years from 1937-84 before he passed away Feb. 20, 1984 in High Prairie at 75 years of age.

Wood impacted the lives of many people in the region over the decades and was committed to enhance healthcare over many generations, Twice is Nice president Diana Oliver says.

“We are blessed to have him in our lives,” Oliver says.

Longtime family friend Bert Daly says Wood left a lasting impact on many families.

“When you talk about Dr. Wood, every person has a story,” Daly says.

After the Gamelin Nursing Home opened in 1967 at the former hospital site on Highway 2 east of Highway 749, it was named in honour of J.B. Wood on Feb. 19, 1973.

The current J.B. Wood Continuing Care Centre in the new High Prairie Health Complex opened in April 2017.

Wood’s great-granddaughter, Gabrielle Wood, thanked the community on behalf of the family.

“Thank you to the community for keeping this memorial alive as it is important in remembering our past pioneers that we offer a path for our future leaders to follow,” Wood says.

“As a member of the youngest generation, I am so grateful that our great-grandfather’s legacy has been carried on in this way, such that even those of us who didn’t get to meet the man can still feel a connection and by inspired by his life.”

Alberta Health Services Area 6 director Janet Farney and High Prairie interim site manager Samantha Nemec spoke about Wood’s service to the region.

Farney shared the story about the reason to rename the nursing home in honour of Wood.

“This was done as a gesture of thanks and as a lasting tribute to a man that spent his life providing medical care to the people of High Prairie and area,’ Farney says.

‘Dr. Wood went above and beyond as a physician and showed a deep commitment to this community,”

He responded to calls for medical care at all hours of the day and night and travelled through all different types of weather conditions to get to his calls.

“His commitment and dedication to the health care of the community was second to none,” Farney says.

“Even when his health was failing or he was injured, he continued with his clinic or surgeries,” Nemec says.

Many stories are told of him attending to patients with a broken ankle, cracked ribs, a broken arm and even right after major surgery when he broke his hip.

“There were so many instances where he selflessly responded to the medical needs of others over and above himself,” Nemec says.

Wood practised prior to universal health care being established.

“He often provided medical care to patients in exchange for firewood, vegetables, chicken or wild meat – if he was compensated at all,” Nemec says.

“He paid little attention to his own material needs and accounting or invoicing patients did not warrant his attention.”

More often than not he “forgot to” send a bill or he undercharged for his services, she says.

He even developed the “Wood Plan” where he would provide all the medical care that a family needed for $1 a month.

“Dr. Wood was an exceptional physician and his dedication and commitment to this community was impressive,” Nemec says.

“We are truly honoured to have our facility named after Dr. Wood,” she concludes.

Dr. J.B. Wood, right, stands with Dr. Phillip Rutter when Gamelin Nursing Home in High Prairie was renamed J.B. Wood Nursing Home in a ceremony Feb. 19, 1973.

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