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Dr. Merrillee Brown: quite an honour

Port Perry has always had a fantastic group of physicians, many of which operate through Medical Associates of Port Perry, a full service facility. Most residents are aware of the purposes and services, but perhaps not as much is known about the men and women who operate within the medical community.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Merrilee Brown, one of our Docs and one of our community’s dedicated residents. Merrilee was recently chosen to receive the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ highest honour, the Reg L. Perkin Family Physician of the Year Award for Ontario. This prestigious honour is awarded to a family doctor who provides exceptional care to patients, while significantly contributing to the health and well-being of communities and society. The award is quite an honour, and worthy of taking a look at the events in Dr. Brown’s life, which led to being the recipient of this tribute.

Merrilee was born on Bowmanville. Her father was a land surveyor and her mom was a high school teacher. A career in medicine had always been in the back of her mind, even when she was waitressing at the local Howard Johnson’s.

Upon graduation, and a desire to work in a small town, Merrilee began searching for a place she could call home. It was her brother Doug, who worked as a pharmacist at Bruton’s Big V, in Port Perry, who insisted she give our town a try. “I had always wanted to be a physician,” Merrilee explained. “Initially I wanted a career in geriatrics, but the idea of helping different age groups was also appealing.”

Merrilee achieved her undergrad at McMaster University in Hamilton and spent two years in family medicine in Ottawa. Her first glimpse of a small town came when the program director, Dr. John Forster, left, to move to Port Perry.

After relocating, her initial assignments were covering for other Docs on maternity leave, vacation, etc. Still not certain what direction to take, Merrilee took a trip out west with a few friends. It was there she met Stephen Grey, a resident of Calgary. “I fell in love with the west [and no doubt Stephen, as well], and considered a palliative care position in Edmonton.

After a few years in Alberta, Merrilee returned to Ontario in 1998, and a year later she and Stephen were married. They made their home on Scugog Island. “Our intention was to flip the house, but we fell in love with it, and the community, and stayed for 10 years.”

Both their children, Alastair and Sophie were born there, and in 2007 the family moved into town. Merrilee continued working at Medical Associates of Port Perry as a family physician, where she delivers babies and provides palliative care. She also cares for patients in their homes, in the hospital and works in the emergency room.

Husband Stephen, also joined Medical Associates as CEO of the operation, overseeing the entire reconstruction of the facility, including the creation of a huge addition.

Dr. Merrilee is dutifully involved with the family medicine facility of the University of Toronto, and constantly assists in the development of education pr