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Infection control experience gives wider view of health care: Dr. Virginia Roth is the first female Chief of Staff

image of Dr Virginia Roth

An advocate for strong, positive patient experiences, Dr. Virginia Roth will continue to lead The Ottawa Hospital in providing patient- and family-centred care.


She has worked on some of the most high-profile diseases in recent years, including H1N1, SARS and MRSA. Now, Dr. Virginia Roth oversees the approximately 1,400 doctors at The Ottawa Hospital as the new Chief of Staff – the first female doctor to do so.

“It’s an honour to serve the community in this role, and at a hospital that I am very proud to be a part of,” said Dr. Roth. “The health-care system can be complex and overwhelming for patients. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we help patients and their families during one of the most challenging times of their lives, providing them with guidance, compassion and care.”

A native of Kitchener-Waterloo, Dr. Roth joined The Ottawa Hospital in 2000 after working as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there, she travelled to the scenes of outbreaks and epidemics to help understand how diseases are spread. She credits her experience in infection prevention and control with helping her to see the health-care system from a wider perspective.

“As physicians, we care very much about our patients and their specific needs,” said Dr. Roth. “Being involved in infection control internationally helped me see health systems at a broader perspective, and understand what we can do to better serve our patients, population and health-care workers.”

Dr. Roth is the first woman to be appointed Chief of Staff at The Ottawa Hospital, and has spearheaded many initiatives to help cultivate the potential of female staff. Among these are the Female Physician Leadership Committee, and a policy that encourages doctors to take leaves of absence for reasons such as caring for a child or an ailing parent. The Ottawa Hospital is the only hospital in Canada with such a policy, for which Dr. Roth says both men and women are grateful.

Dr. Roth moved into this new role – held by Dr. Jeff Turnbull until he retired Dec. 31 – at a critical time of change for both The Ottawa Hospital and health-care systems in this country. Dr. Roth is passionate about building staff and physician resilience during these times of change, and sees many interesting opportunities ahead, from the design and construction of a new hospital campus to the shifting influence of technology on health care.

“It’s an exciting time to be in health care, and we have a lot of promising opportunities ahead of us at The Ottawa Hospital,” said Dr. Roth. “From building a new hospital for the 21st century to implementing an electronic health system, we will strive to shape what health care looks like going forward, and continue to provide our patients with the best care possible.”

Of course, she also entered this role carrying a great deal of respect from her colleagues, who look forward to seeing her lead doctors in providing world-class care and compassion to every patient.

“Dr. Roth is a tremendous asset to our team,” said Dr. Jack Kitts, President and CEO. “Her passion for a better patient experience is just one of the many qualities that make her an exceptional leader within the hospital. She is an inspiration to our physicians, patients and staff.”

Dr. Roth was interviewed on CTV Morning Live in January.




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