Doc Talk with Daniel Kapeluto

Posted on Friday April 01, 2011
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For Daniel Kapeluto, the stars seemed to align just right, each one pointing him towards Orillia.

First, he saw a classified ad seeking a family doctor in Orillia. He was immediately catapulted back to his teenage years when he was a counsellor at Camp Wahanowin – fond memories of good times on the shores of Lake Couchiching.

Then, in talking to his colleagues during his residency at Memorial University in Newfoundland – Ben and Elizabeth McNaull – Orillia again surfaced as the three young doctors considered their future. When the McNaulls returned from doing their elective at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, they had nothing but rave reviews of the hospital and the community that they had chosen to become their new home.

Kapeluto felt drawn to the Sunshine City and decided to make the trek west in January to check out his former stomping grounds. He didn’t have a lot of time and, as it turns out, he didn’t need a lot of time.

“I was quite impressed immediately,” said Kapeluto of his whirlwind trip to Orillia. “I remembered Orillia from my days working at Camp Wahanowin as this little town between Barrie and Muskoka... but now the downtown has been cleaned up, there are more services, it’s grown and it’s just become a really pretty town.”

But the clincher for Kapeluto, who was born in Toronto but grew up in Belleville, was his visit to Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. “I think the last time I was there was about 13 years ago and I couldn’t believe the transformation,” he said. “It’s gorgeous.”

Perhaps more importantly, he loved the way health care was delivered at SMH – and in the community. “It’s really a great set up in Orillia for someone like me who is a rural-trained family doctor,” said Kapeluto. “In some of the rural hospitals I’ve worked at in Newfoundland, the (general practitioners) run health care in the hospitals, more or less... and I really liked that that was essentially the way things are done in Orillia.”

He said that approach was a critical factor cementing his choice to come to Orillia to open a family practice. “That was a huge consideration. I had been recruited by some clinics in the GTA, which is nice but that’s not really me. This is exactly what I was looking for.”

In addition, he was impressed with the new state-of-the-art Couchiching Family Health Team facility that opened recently on Memorial Avenue. The completely renovated and modern building is home to more than a dozen family doctors and support staff – providing complete family health care under one roof.

“I’m planning to go into that facility as part of a group,” said Kapeluto. “I was really impressed with the building and with their approach to health care; that’s a great set up.”

The 31-year-old says he is looking forward to moving to Orillia, probably in July, once his residency at Memorial University ends in June.

“I’ve been in post-secondary education for 13 years,” said Kapeluto, who earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at McGill University before going to medical school at University College Dublin in Ireland before moving on to Memorial University in Newfoundland. “I have certainly had an extended student life but I feel like it’s time to start being an adult, being responsible and getting down to work.”

And he’s excited to be getting down to work in a community where he feels wanted.

“The physician recruitment and retention committee in Orillia just blew me away,” said Kapeluto. “They are head and shoulders above anyone else out there who is recruiting.”

For example, he said when he arrived in Orillia, he was greeted by members of the committee in addition to Orillia Mayor Angelo Orsi and Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes, who personally welcomed him to town. He also had an extensive tour of the city, the hospital, the new Couchiching Family Health Team facility and broke bread with committee members and people involved in the health-care community.

“The level of effort the committee puts into recruitment here compared to other centres is incredible,” said Kapeluto. “Seeing that effort is comforting to me because I know there is a need and I know that they are working hard to bring more family doctors to town. That’s important; it’s great to see.”

And while he is excited about hanging out his shingle, he admits he is also excited about living in Orillia.

“When we had days off from Camp Wahanowin, we’d come into Orillia and visit the hotspots,” recalled Kapeluto with a grin. “I loved Mariposa Market and Webers and Tux... my experience as a camp counsellor really helped shape me so it just seems right to be starting my career in Orillia.”

Kapeluto is not the only new physician coming to Orillia this summer; the committee has successfully recruited Justin Porter as well. And there may be more on the way. The committee is working with other potential recruits who were among 96 students/residents to visit OSMH in various capacities over the past year as they work toward graduation.

For more information, contact Pat Thor at 325-4903, ext 111.

If you do not have a family doctor, don’t call the hospital or a specific doctor.  Health Care Connect helps people who are without a family doctor to find one. For more information, call 1-800-445-1822 or visit


Members of the Orillia and Area Physician Recruitment and retention committee include Dr. Donald Atkinson (chief of staff, OSMH), Bob Brown (dealer principal, Thor Motors), Dr. Grant Ho (family physician), Tom Hussey (chartered accountant), Marci Csumrik (real estate agent), Tony Katarynych (financial advisor), Ron Sattler (developer), Dick Sheridan (manufacturer), Kathi Shropshire (bank manager), Gini Stringer (business owner), Bruce Waite (lawyer), Dr. Carol Strickland (family physician), Lea Bagley and Jackie Shaughnessy (OSMH medical services staff), Terry Dyni and Jaclyn Bucik (OSMH public relations staff), Lori Koughan and Dan Landry (City of Orillia staff), Alison Braun (Healthforce Ontario staff) and Pat Thor (physician recruitment project co-ordinator).