Award: Ontario College of Family Physicians celebrates outstanding physicians

The Ontario College of Family Physicians recognized Drs. Sharon Bal, Andrea Chittle and Laura Lyons with awards for outstanding contributions to family medicine across the province.

Lyons, resident alumna and Associate Professor in Family Medicine, was named the 2021 Regional Family Physician of the Year for Erie St. Clair and Southwest Ontario. This award recognizes physicians who exemplify exceptional patient care and significantly contribute to the well-being of their community.

Lyons is currently the Director of Family Medicine Obstetrics at London Health Sciences Centre and previously served as the Director at St. Joseph's Family Medical Centre.

She has been providing comprehensive care – from perinatal to palliative – to patients in the London community for more than 15 years. Lyons is also renowned for her expertise in the care of women struggling with addiction and substance use during pregnancy. Lyons’ research focus is related to psychosocial risk screening, mental illness and addictions in pregnancy, benefiting the clinical populations she serves.

During the virtual award ceremony hosted by OCFP on November 10, Lyons’ colleagues and residents described her as an influential role model and mentor within the School, a fierce advocate for her patients and an effective and respected leader. 

Bal, a Master of Clinical Science in Family Medicine Candidate, and Chittle, MD’08, were honoured with the 2021 OCFP Award of Excellence, which celebrates achievements in a specific area of family medicine. 

As the Primary Care Physician Lead for the Cambridge-North Dumfries Ontario Health Team, Bal is recognized for her patient-centered design and implementation of the team, successful interprofessional local partnerships and advocacy work through community working groups. 

She is the Primary Care Lead for the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network, and the lead physician at Cambridge Delta Medical Centre. Bal is also involved in training medical students and residents as an Adjunct Clinical Professor and Pre-Clerkship Coordinator at the Michael Degroote School of Medicine’s Waterloo Regional Campus.

Chittle is a Guelph-based family physician and the Board Chair of Guelph’s HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH) clinic. She is recognized by the OCFP for her commitment to ensuring access to care and health resources for underserved populations, particularly in the areas of sexual health and COVID-19. 

Chittle has been dedicated to improving the local COVID-19 pandemic response, from developing accessible information resources for both patients and physicians and providing online education sessions, to personally administering more than 1,000 vaccines. She has also been instrumental in ensuring that ARCH can safely continue providing services to the Guelph community throughout the pandemic.