Home is where the heart is

Dr. Mohan Cooray – who grew up in Flemingdon Park – comes home to Michael Garron Hospital to practice medicine. (Photo: MGH)

Dr. Mohan Cooray – who grew up in Flemingdon Park – comes home to Michael Garron Hospital to practice medicine. (Photo: MGH)

Dr. Mohan Cooray is right at home.

His parents emigrated from Sri Lanka when he was four, and still live in Flemingdon Park, where Mohan grew up in the early 90’s. Growing up, he was surrounded by many languages, religions and cultures, and was taught to appreciate the resources he had, and work hard to accomplish his dreams. After a long journey through high school, university, the McMaster School of Medicine, residency and a gastroenterology subspecialization, Mohan came home.

“It was serendipity,” he says of coming to work at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) as a gastroenterologist and advanced endoscopist.

“It really hits home when I see my parents’ friends in the halls of the hospital, so happy to see me. This is where I’m from. This is where I belong.”

Mohan notes that doctors may be hired here for their technical excellence, but they stay because they like to work in this environment: patient-centred, caring and community-driven.

And that’s exactly what he enjoys about his work— ensuring his patients understand him, perhaps while working through a translator, or considering how religious practices such as fasting may conflict with medical advice.

Mohan and his colleagues at MGH excel at providing the care patients need – no matter their age, which language they speak, or the culture they come from. It’s one of the things that makes the hospital so special – and it’s a necessity for the patients served. The hospital’s catchment area is Canada’s most diverse community, with more than 50 languages spoken and the highest proportion of refugees in the city. Forty per cent of residents in the community are new Canadians, and a quarter is low income.

“Poor health can absolutely destroy the livelihood of a family, particularly for newcomers with little financial or family support,” says Mohan.

“I know it and I see it, every day—this hospital saves many lives when it saves one.”