As a child, Dr. Eleanor Reimer was hospitalized frequently with a chronic bone infection that required many surgeries. So when she decided to pursue a career in medicine, she was determined to remember what it was like on the “other side” as a patient.
She began her career as a nurse, working in pediatric and adult intensive care units, before pursuing her medical degree at the University of Manitoba. She went on to specialize in pediatric anesthesia at the University of Western Ontario and completed her fellowship at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) in 1992 before joining the department.
In 1997, she became director of the University of BC anesthesia residency program, where she has shared her experience and knowledge in a mentoring role. That position was followed in 2000 by the department head role, which she held for 12 years. Dr. Reimer is also a clinical investigator with the Child and Family Research Institute, a UBC clinical associate professor and head of the division of pediatric anesthesiology, department of anesthesiology, pharmacology and therapeutics.
Dr. Reimer first became involved in the planning of the new Teck Acute Care Centre at BC Children's around 2005, when a small group of physicians began to envision how they could improve the delivery of care in a better designed facility. That led to more formal involvement in the early phases of planning, culminating in her current role as the physician lead for the BC Children’s and BC Women’s Redevelopment Project. In this role, she provides advice and technical input to the project team and serves as the key liaison between the project and the medical staff.
“Drawing from her own personal experiences as a patient and as a care provider, she has been integral in focusing attention on the patient rooms to ensure the designs best serve patients and families, while also allowing care providers to deliver excellent care,” says Dan Payne, a clinical project manager working on the redevelopment project. “Her work is shaping the future of care for generations to come.”
As a medical student, she spent time working in low-income countries, and those experiences sparked a life-long desire to give back. For more than a decade, she has volunteered her time and skills to provide free, life-transforming surgery to hundreds of children living in economically challenged regions around the world.
The mission of Operation Rainbow Canada (ORC) is to provide reconstructive surgery to impoverished children in medically underserved areas of the world, to engage in education with physicians and nurses in order to enhance the level of local care and to promote self-efficiency within those countries. Dr. Reimer has travelled to Cambodia and Indonesia as a member of an ORC team and completed four trips with this group in total.
More recently, Dr. Reimer joined a pediatric surgical team from BC Children’s Hospital that works in Uganda. This year will mark their fifth trip to the country, where they provide free surgery to children with conditions ranging from birth defects to problems with their gastrointestinal systems. A major focus of these trips is to teach local doctors and nurses about how to provide safe anesthesia care to children.
In her philanthropic work, she sets an example for hospital colleagues both in funding and connecting the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation with supporters and donors. Recognized as a Children’s Circle of Care member, Dr. Reimer serves as an ambassador for BC Children’s, raising awareness about the importance of the work and research that takes place at the hospital.