Congratulations and a Job Well Done!

This issue is proudly dedicated to the celebration of the 40th anniversary of COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association. You will find many of the articles chock-full of interesting historical details and fun facts. It is somewhat hard to imagine that 40 years has passed since a group of like-minded and passionate individuals decided to meet and discuss how they would bring their peers together to drive forward the agenda for advancing computers in health for Canada. Time presents itself as a funny thing, especially when we are taking that moment to look back and are reminded of how many years have passed. 40 years – really?

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate COACH on this milestone and am eager to celebrate with you all at the e-Health Conference in Toronto at the end of this month. I also wanted to give my thanks, as a COACH Member, to the endless lineup of volunteers that has given countless hours over the years to the organization. COACH is nothing without its members, their dedication and continued support – and this cannot happen without a dedicated and passionate staff! As an organization we are very fortunate to have had committed staff members serve us over the years. Working for an association takes an enormous amount of dedication, energy, perseverance, and patience – well done Shannon, Grant, Linda, Christina, RoseMary and Amanda!

COACH will be saying farewell to their inaugural CEO, Don Newsham, at this year’s conference… and I really want to use this space to say thank you to Don as he steps down from his position.

Don, many people have shared with me their appreciation for what you have accomplished and it is fitting to say a public thank you to you in this editorial, dedicated to the 40 years of COACH! Your insight about and passion for the vital role that health informatics (HI) professionals play in patient care and healthcare transformation have been true driving forces behind COACH’s success through the changes and significant growth that occurred during your tenure. You have been a most effective ambassador for COACH and truly enhanced COACH’s visibility, profile and impact as the Voice of Health Informatics in Canada both nationally and internationally.

I remember meeting you back in the mid 1990s; you were definitely the definition of an enthusiastic and dedicated COACH member. You became extremely involved as a volunteer with Dennis Niebergal and Gil Sampson in leading COACH’s EHR (also referred to as HER by Word Perfect spell check!) Symposium, which for many years became an extremely well attended pre-COACH Conference event. The EHR symposium really set the focus to what is now our e-Health agenda. You didn’t stop there and continued to volunteer your service to COACH by joining the Board as a Director and eventually taking the position of President from 2004 – 2006. In between all of that you also dedicated your valuable time with a group of us who founded ANHIX, the Alberta Network for Health Information eXchange. There are many more mentions of your service to our industry throughout this issue, of course, and so much more that has not been mentioned, I am sure.

We thank you, Don, for steering the course to keep COACH relevant and up-to-date during a period of rapid change in Canadian healthcare during your time as CEO of COACH. Your service, your leadership and your passion have all been so appreciated. We wish you well in your new adventures, your coninuted work in the ISO International Organization for Standardization, your continued involvement as a past president of COACH and hopefully some well- deserved semi-retirement activities.

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.”… and may you always have a sufficient supply of good dark chocolate within reach!

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