Friday evening had the Fireside room at the Park Place Lodge full of medical people gathered to pay tribute to one of their own who certainly deserves all accolades. I was honored to be invited as I have always had a deep appreciation for the person being singled out on this occasion.
Dr. Colm Nally came to Fernie from Ireland over thirty years ago. He told a story of seeing an advertisement for Fernie needing a surgeon for over a year wondering where this Fernie was and one day checked out a map. When he showed an interest Dr. Graham and Dr. Clark immediately contacted him. When Dr. Graham was visiting Ireland he and Dr. Nally met. That was a time without the technology of today so the story of the meeting and how an Overwaitea bag full of brochures describing Fernie was presented to him was comical. It did pique his interest, he and Alice came for a visit and a year later they immigrated.
Sixteen years ago changes to provincial government brought about many changes to the health care system, not all of them positive and if it wasn’t for Dr. Nally our local hospital would not have been able to offer the services it did. At a time when provincial government closed hospitals and downgraded others it was his tenacity in wanting to keep OR services in the Elk Valley available that resulted in the hospital doing so. This issue was one where everyone in the area was united. It was understood that with five mines, a ski hill, multiple visitors and for general needs closing down OR services was detrimental to our Valley. Cranbrook hospital has become the central regional one for services but there are times and many reason when it’s difficult for people to get there. And this was clearly visible this past winter when roads were closed in both directions for a period of time. Residents and medical workers were diligent in keeping as much as possible in the local hospital; this couldn’t have happened had Dr. Nally and the other doctors not had the tenacity to push back to IH when they wanted changes. But most of all it was his refusal to move to another hospital whenever it was brought up that kept what the services we had.
This community and the entire Valley owes a great deal to this soft spoken, gentle man who cared and still feels so deeply about this area and the people.
Dr. Ron Clark emcee’d the evening that heard several of the doctors speak about his generosity in mentoring them and how much they had learned from him. Pat Moore thanked him on behalf of nurses saying that no matter how many times he was called in the middle of nights he was always polite, never rude when responding and she and other nurses truly appreciated that.
Shirley Mercier said on behalf of Interior Health that they appreciated and thanked Dr. Nally for the “Tireless support and commitment to the Elk Valley providing surgical care, emergency surgical skill and many hours of on call. On behalf of Interior Health I would like to acknowledge your significant contribution over the years and can’t overstate our gratitude for the excellent care you’ve provided, I wish you and your family health and happiness for your future and to know that you will certainly be missed.”
Shirley then read out a poem she had written.
Days go by so very fast
It’s hard to believe
It’s time for your retirement
Time to be free
You’ve worked so very hard
Been on call daily that’s true
And no one deserves time off now
Any more than you
You’ve had some rough times
Made special connections with all
You made the best of what life brings
And today you stand tall
I wish you days of happiness
Not filled with any strife
I hope that your retirement years
Are the best years of your life
I presented Dr. Nally with a framed image from the Arts Co-op depicting a fishing scene on behalf of Council and the City in appreciation of his dedicated years of service and told him that I could speak for the entire Valley when I said Thank you and that he would be greatly missed. The evening was truly an acknowledgment to a man who is appreciated so warmly not only by the communities he served but also by the people he served with.
Many spoke and the theme was recurring; deep appreciation for a person who is caring and good at what he does and sincere regret at not seeing him there any longer.
Dr. Nally thanked his wife Alice, and his two sons who live on in Toronto and Vancouver, who came especially to be present for the evening.
I took the opportunity to thank and tell the doctors, nurses and other medical people how very fortunate this Valley is to have them in our midst. As Mayor, I’m very conscious of what a great group of people we have serving the medical needs of residents.
Dr. Nally, congratulations and the very best wishes for a long and happy retirement and thank you so much for the many dedicated years of service to the Elk Valley.