Dr. Thomas Piggott officially began his role as Peterborough’s new medical officer of health on Wednesday (December 1).
Dr. Piggott, who is also chief executive officer of Peterborough Public Health and takes over as incident commander for the local COVID-19 emergency response, was welcomed by health unit staff and a full day of community health briefings.
“I’m excited to finally be here and join the tremendous team at Peterborough Public Health,” Dr. Piggott said. “My top priority is to connect with as many of our stakeholders as possible to understand local priorities and how together we can strategically advance the public health of our community.”
“While there are many pressing issues locally and opportunities for positive change, addressing the opioid crisis and responding to climate change are areas I expect will become a major focus for us in the years ahead,” Dr. Piggott said. “There is already a great deal of good work happening on these fronts and I want to help our team focus on equity, or fairness, in these areas and all of the work we do.”
Dr. Piggott added his immediate priority will be on the continued pandemic response.
Over the coming weeks, Dr. Piggott will be meeting with representatives across every sector in the community, including local Indigenous leaders, municipalities, healthcare and social service organizations, education institutions, businesses, environmental groups, and more. He will also serve on numerous provincial committees, including the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health.
AUDIO: Peterborough medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott
A newcomer to the Peterborough area, Dr. Piggott was previously the medical officer of health of Labrador-Grenfell Health in the northern regions of Labrador, where he also served as the executive lead for population health and rural and remote health in the region.
He has experience collaborating on public health with Indigenous communities in Canada and internationally, and led a pandemic response along with Indigenous governments in Labrador for outbreak prevention and a vaccination rollout with priority on Indigenous communities.
Prior to his role at Labrador-Grenfell Health, Dr. Piggott worked as a field doctor with Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is a public health and preventive medicine specialist as well as a practising family physician.
Selwyn mayor Andy Mitchell, who is chair of the board of health, was also on hand to greet Dr. Piggott when he arrived at Peterborough Public Health this morning.
“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Piggott here today as he takes on this important role in our community,” Mitchell said. “He brings a clear vision on how public health can build stronger communities for everyone’s benefit. I’m confident this vision, in combination with his exceptional enthusiasm and expertise, will produce meaningful improvements in the health of local residents.”
Mitchell also thanked Peterborough Public Health staff, acting medical officer of health Dr. Ian Gemmill, and Larry Stinson and Donna Churipuy for their work over the past 10 weeks keeping the organization running smoothly and ensuring a smooth transition for Dr. Piggott.
Dr. Piggott’s first public speaking engagement will take place on Thursday at the bi-weekly COVID-19 media briefing. He will also be presenting a virtual education session next Thursday (December 9) at 6:30 p.m. for parents and caregivers with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years.
Dr. Piggott is planning to attend several local upcoming municipal council meetings as well, starting with a budget presentation to the County of Peterborough Council on Wednesday, December 15th.
You can follow Dr. Piggott on Twitter @twpiggott, where he has shared further details of his priorities in his new role.
In my experiences elsewhere, the opioids crisis needs a collaborative & caring harm reduction approach, & the meaningful engagement of people who are using drugs to inform the response & services. I'm looking forward to learning and helping. pic.twitter.com/HYKwV4cb4B
— Dr Thomas Piggott (He/Him) (@twpiggott) December 1, 2021