Meet Dr. Greg Rosenfeld
As a family physician for 15 years, Dr. Greg Rosenfeld appreciated the long-term relationships he had established with his patients and their families. The physician-patient relationship is a special privilege that he values in his work. Moreover, he was always eager to learn new skills that would help him provide more complete care to those patients.
So, when the opportunity presented itself to pursue a residency, Dr. Rosenfeld knew he wanted to specialize in a field that would give him the chance to provide definitive care for patients without compromising his ability to form long-term bonds with them and their families.
After talking with Dr. Brian Bressler, he realized that gastroenterology, and particularly IBD, was the perfect next step in his medical career.
“GI is both medical and procedural — it’s a bridge between medicine and surgery,” explains Dr. Rosenfeld, adding, “In gastroenterology, you do endoscopy, which is a procedural specialty, but it’s also the medicine of treating patients with a chronic condition like Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I really liked the idea of providing longitudinal care with the ability to be the end of the road, where I could perform procedures that would actually help somebody.”
With these goals in mind, Dr. Rosenfeld made the decision to head back to school. Seven years later, he had completed his gastroenterology training, and under the supervision of Dr. Bressler, he became the first fellow to complete UBC’s IBD fellowship. During that fellowship, he also completed a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology.
It was a long road and a huge commitment for his entire family. “I’m not really sure in retrospect how I did it,” says Dr. Rosenfeld. However, now that he has a thriving gastroenterology practice and a happy, almost-grown, family, he’s glad he made the sacrifice because it’s given him the opportunity to make a real, and sometimes dramatic, difference in his patients’ lives. He points to the example of a patient who had been suffering for a long time with undiagnosed bowel issues. The patient was depressed and had been off work. “It had been a classic downward spiral,” says Dr. Rosenfeld, but that changed drastically over a two-day period. “I saw the patient for the first time on a Wednesday, performed a colonoscopy on Friday and prescribed treatment right away. After three years of being sick, he was diagnosed and treated within 48 hours. Two weeks later he and his wife came back to my office and she was in tears with gratitude.”
It’s not always this straightforward, but this experience and those like it are what inspire Dr. Rosenfeld. “You won’t do well in medicine unless you want to help people. You have to really care about people to be able to heal people. I want The IBD Centre to be a place where people leave feeling good about having seen me and all of the health-care providers of the Centre. Healing others helps to make the world a little bit better place and I am lucky to be able to try to do that every day,” he says.
As the person with his finger on the pulse and leading the operational push behind just about every aspect of The IBD Centre of BC — including strategy, development, communications and more — Dr. Rosenfeld is bringing that light into the lives of many IBD sufferers from around the province.
He says The IBD Centre of BC is his professional legacy. “Helping one person at a time and hearing his or her gratitude is great. But I want to help more people than that, and more people than I can reach personally need our help.”
Dr. Rosenfeld believes a new model of care like The IBD Centre of BC is particularly important for people with inflammatory bowel disease because it can be such a tragic disease that affects young people just as they are starting their careers and having families.
While The IBD Centre of BC is providing much-needed, first-class multidisciplinary treatment by a myriad of health-care providers to these patients, Dr. Rosenfeld says it’s the education the Centre provides to patients, their families and health-care professionals around the province that may be its most important contribution.
“It’s a disease that people don’t talk about it”, he explains, adding, “People aren’t okay to say they’re [soiling themselves] five times a day in the way that they would be okay to talk about their breast cancer or their prostate cancer. It’s such a silent disease that people don’t want to talk about it, so they don’t get the answers to the questions they have. We’re trying to change that and make their lives better.”