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PROFILE: Orillia doctor recognized for work with children, youth

'You can make a massive difference in a child’s whole life by caring for them at a young age,' says Orillia doctor and Twin Lakes Secondary School grad

Orillia doctor Melanie Colpitts has been honoured by the Canadian Pediatric Society with the Certificate of Merit for Ontario. The award recognizes her for her high-quality pediatric care.

“It is so touching and humbling, I am truly honoured.” said Colpitts, the lead doctor for the Orillia Pediatric Teaching Associates (OPTA) who works in the Neonatal and Pediatric program at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital (OSMH).

Colpitts was nominated by her colleagues, Dr. Michelle Gordon and Dr. Sarah Barker.

“They are among the most outstanding physicians I have ever worked with, so it means a great deal to be recognized among my peers who are outstanding compassionate doctors themselves," Colpitts said. 

Colpitts is an active member of the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Team, a regional service in Simcoe Muskoka. She has appeared at the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario as an expert witness in a case involving child sexual assault. She is also a member of the Maternal Newborn Care Team at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital.

The Twin Lakes Secondary School graduate got her start in the medical field during her last year of high school when she became interested in medicine.

“I spent some time with my family physician, Dr. Nancy Harris, who was a lovely mentor,” Colpitts explained.

“The medical field is exciting and challenging. I get to help people, I get to continually learn, and I love resolving puzzles to figure things out so I can help children.”

Colpitts graduated from medical school at Queen's University in 2006 and completed her residency in Edmonton years later. Colpitts is now a doctor specializing in care for newborn children and patients up to the age of 18.

“Anything can happen with kids which is exciting from a medical perspective. Kids are so resilient which helps catch any medical challenges that they have early on,” Colpitts said.

“You can make a massive difference in a child’s whole life by caring for them at a young age.”

In 2011, Colpitts moved from Edmonton back home to Orillia to work in her hometown.

“I work with an amazing team of physicians and other health-care professionals. Orillia is an amazing place to work,” Colpitts said.

While helping children is Colpitts’ dream job, she admits there are plenty of challenges.

“It can be really busy, there can be a lot going on at once, and just like children can get better really well, they can get sick really fast,” she explained.

“You need to be able to recognize that and act in a timely fashion, which can be a challenge when things are busy.”

Like most medical professionals, Colpitts has also been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year.

“The pandemic has been really tough for our patients, for their families, and our team,” Colpitts said.

“It’s provided extra challenges where we are doing as much as we can, virtually, when possible, which is extremely difficult for children at adolescence from a mental health perspective, and we see the impact of that in our practice.”

Colpitts says the children she cares for have been struggling with isolation and lack of social interaction during the pandemic.

“There are severe increases in anxiety, depression, eating disorders ... often children are sicker when they present. Behaviour concerns are worsening, and any child who struggles with learning is having an extra layer of challenge with online learning,” she explained.

But challenges are nothing Colpitts shies away from. She and her team have continued to put forward their best efforts during a time when children need their expertise and care the most.

“I’m so grateful for the team that I have at the hospital. I have amazing colleagues, teammates, and mentors, which has led to us having an outstanding program with so many specialized clinics that we can offer here,” she said.

Outside of work, Colpitts spends time with her young family. She and her husband have two boys and the family likes to spend time sailing, kayaking, and swimming.

“I am very thankful that I have such a wonderful support system at home. I enjoy getting outside and spending time with my family,” she said.

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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