When COVID-19 first hit and the pandemic was declared, it quickly became clear to Dr. Trina Larsen Soles that information and communication were going to be key in the community effort to fight the virus.
She penned her first update, expecting it to be a one time thing.
Instead, Larsen Soles became a voice for the Physicians of Golden and a staple in Golden’s community as a source of reliable information over the last 13 months.
“Studies show that information you get from someone you know and trust is more reliable and we have good relationships with our patients, so I thought it should come from us,” said Larsen Soles.
“I never intended it to get big like it did, I did one and the feedback that I got from people that it was helping them stay sane throughout this, so I became the spokesperson.”
It was a role that she naturally fell into, with experience in public speaking as she was president of Doctors of B.C. for a year and worked with the Rural Physicians of Canada in 2004, which taught her how to work with people and communicate important information.
It wasn’t always evident that Larsen Soles would pursue medicine – she says that she doesn’t come from a family of healthcare workers, with only one aunt who worked as a nurse.
However, Larsen Soles says she first found her passion for medicine growing up as a ‘science-geek,’ with the practical application of science and the ability to help people with her work drawing her to the medical field.
After working in a genetics lab at UBC for a bit and finding the work a bit too academic, she got into medical school on her second go around, graduating in 1986.
Now, Larsen Soles is the longest-serving doctor at the Golden Medical Clinic, first coming to town in June 1987, initially thinking that her stay would be short, before settling in and marrying a local boy.
“When I was first in medical school one of my classmates was from Golden and he introduced me to his brother, and we ended up getting married,” said Larsen Soles.
“It was such a nice group of people here and we were really well supported, I came for three months and well, I stayed far beyond that.”
Larsen Soles has seen the practice grow over her years of service, watching the clinic bloom from six doctors when she first arrived to double that number today, with 12-13 doctors available depending on the month.
Things have come full circle for Larsen Soles, who says that now she is working alongside physicians that she helped train as either medical students or residents.
“The important thing, and the unique thing, about Golden compared to other communities is this functional, supportive group practice that provides a wide variety of services, a lot of things here that you won’t find anywhere else in small towns in B.C. and even the country,” said Larsen Soles.
She says that the last year has presented a challenge for the Physicians of Golden, with a steep learning curve on how to handle a pandemic of this proportion.
“I think everyone is super tired, just keeping up doing all this stuff we have to do is exhausting, we’ve totally changed how the clinic works,” said Larsen Soles.
“Monitoring COVID patients, making sure they don’t get really sick, sanitization, but we’ve always had a really good team here in Golden and they’ve more than stepped up to the plate.”
Larsen Soles remembers back last February talking with a colleague in Vancouver about COVID, saying that neither of them had any idea it would get this bad.
“We we’re going is this whole thing overblown? We’ve heard this before with SARS and H1N1, we have boxes of expired N95 masks that are expired that we ordered for SARS and H1N1,” said Larsen Soles.
“As soon as it was declared a global pandemic, we knew we had a big problem.”
Larsen Soles says the Golden community makes the work worthwhile, crediting the people for helping mitigate the effects of the pandemic her as other communities in the area have struggled with case counts throughout the year.
One thing is for sure – the Physicians of Golden are working hard to keep the community has happy and healthy as they can.
“We don’t have all the bells and whistles, but what we have is a solid group of caring people with excellent skills that use the resources we do have,” she said.
“It’s really special what we have.”