Fired up, ready to serve: Canadian Chiropractor Inspire Awards

Presenting the inaugural winners of the Annual Inspire Awards
Mari-Len De Guzman
February 23, 2015
Written by
Three doctors have emerged as the winners of the first ever Canadian Chiropractor Inspire Awards, recognizing Canada’s most inspiring chiropractors. They are Dr. Dario Laurenti of Espanola, Ont., Dr. Gavin Morphet of Ancaster, Ont., and Dr. Dale Macdonald of Calgary.

Canadian Chiropractor Magazine’s editorial advisory board members acted as the independent judging panel for the Inspire Awards.

In June 2014, the magazine launched the awards, to serve as a platform that shines a spotlight on doctors of chiropractic who are doing above and beyond in the service of their communities.

“It’s great to recognize the ‘unsung heroes’ in our profession,” a member of the judging panel, Dr. Pierre DesLauriers, says.

Get to know these three outstanding chiropractors that are making a difference in their profession and their communities.

Firefighting doc
Dr. Dario Laurenti graduated from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) in 1991 and has since practiced in Espanola, a quaint little town of about 5,500 people located in northern Ontario. For many years since he opened his practice, he was the only chiropractor in town (now, there are two of them) and so got to know many of the people in the community.

Laurenti feels a deep desire to give back to the community that has been “very good to me.” When he is not in his clinic or spending time with his family, he gets involved with various initiatives that benefit the community through organizations such as The Espanola Lions Club – of which he has been a member since 1991.

“I am very proud to belong to that organization because all we do is raise money to give it away to help out needy individuals,” Laurenti says. Just last Christmas, they delivered toys and gifts to 165 disadvantaged children in the community.

Laurenti is also a volunteer firefighter with the Espanola Fire Department, dedicating two hours every week for firefighter training and meetings. In the four years he has been a volunteer firefighter, Laurenti has seen and fought his share of fires.

Being a firefighter was Laurenti’s way of giving back and being of service to his Espanola community. Throughout his work inside and outside of his practice, Laurenti always strives to promote the message of chiropractic care. In fact, his segue into the firefighting world began when he first came to the fire department to do a talk about back pain prevention for firefighters. As the firefighters were being educated on chiropractic, the chiropractor was being drawn to yet another opportunity to be of service to his community. Soon after that, Laurenti applied and was successful in becoming a member of Espanola’s firefighting team.

His desire to educate the community about the benefits of chiropractic opened up many opportunities for Laurenti, both to grow his practice and raise the level of awareness about chiropractic. It also opened up doors for dialogue and mutual cooperation with medical physicians.

Laurenti spearheaded the emergency on-call program for chiropractors through the Espanola Regional Hospital – an initiative that allows emergency room physicians to refer patients to chiropractors in the area.

Laurenti admits the on-call program has not been as successful as he hoped it would be (chiropractors would still occasionally get referrals from the hospital ER, but they weren’t as many as he had initially hoped for), but it was fruitful in other ways.

“I wanted to open up the dialogue between chiropractic and the medical physicians,” Laurenti says. “When I met with the physicians and the executive director (of the hospital) at the time, they were very open. We spoke about chiropractic and how chiropractic can help especially in acute situations.”

Laurenti finds he is in his element when he is providing assistance to others – whether it’s helping patients improve their health or just simply extending a helping hand to those in need of assistance. Perhaps it’s why he found his first career as an x-ray technologist lacking, and wanted to do more than diagnostic testing on patients. Being an x-ray technician has its merits, Laurenti notes, but he wanted to do more for the patients and be more involved in their continuing health care.

“I wanted a more hands-on approach. I wanted to be involved much more in the lives of patients and help them get better. I decided on chiropractic because I was very impressed with (chiropractors) attitude toward health care. And it’s not only talking about the physical condition… health is more than just physical condition. It’s their lifestyle, their diet, their stress level. There’s a number of different things we have to deal with as chiropractors, and that’s what really attracted me to it,” Laurenti says.

So, what inspires Laurenti to do the things he does?

“I think most chiropractors, including myself, will let you know that what inspires us in our practice is the look of gratitude on patients’ faces when they see the benefits of our care. It’s what inspires me to continue to practice after over 23 years of adjusting patients.”

Laurenti calls it a “great honour” to be named as one of Canada’s most inspiring chiropractors, and finds it even more humbling to learn that his 23-year-old son, Adam, was the one who nominated him for the Inspire Award.

“In my life, I have tried to be the best father, doctor, husband and servant that I could be,” he says.

And his biggest aspiration: Be able to bring chiropractic to poor communities.

“The channel in which my life is flowing is leading me to aspire to do a chiropractic mission in a third-world country to treat as many individuals as possible. I have seen the benefits and miracles that many chiropractors are doing today with impoverished people, and when the time is right, I surely will be joining them.”

Service above self
Dr. Gavin Morphet of Ancaster, has been a member of the Rotary Club of Ancaster for more than 10 years, and has gained the admiration of his peers in the club for his dedication and commitment to serving his community.

“Rotary’s motto is ‘service above self,’ “ a dentist and president of the Rotary Club of Ancaster Dr. Alan Zucker writes, in his submission nominating Morphet for the Inspire Award. “Gavin is an inspiration to others because he sets an example of service above self via his profession and through his involvement in our clubs.”

As an evidence-based chiropractor, Morphet regularly reviews medical and health publications to keep himself updated on current news, research and resources that will enable him to provide optimal care for his patients, according to Zucker. In fact, it is not uncommon for Morphet to spend time outside of his clinic hours to research a patient’s specific concern, condition or question.

Morphet considers the rotary slogan, service above self to be his guiding principle in his professional and personal life. “You won’t go wrong if you are exceeding the goals and expectations your patients have for their care. It is also very rewarding to work with people who have the shared desire to make their community a great place to live in,” he said.

Through the rotary club, Morphet has been involved in major fundraising activities for various projects benefitting the Greater Hamilton Area community, including the development of the pediatric radiation suite and children’s waiting room at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, Ont.

Just in the last five years, the Rotary Club of Ancaster has raised more than $500,000, which funded a number of local and international projects, according to Morphet. These included funding for a program that allows for disadvantaged kids to go to summer camp, a local meals-on-wheels program through the Ancaster Community Services, a toy donation drive during the Christmas season, a water sanitation project in Haiti and the provision of wheelchairs for people with disabilities in the Dominican Republic.

“We are always looking at different projects, locally and internationally, that we can get involved with,” he says.
Morphet’s community involvement is not only limited to the rotary club, however. He also volunteers his time to offer education sessions for sports organizations in his community. He strives to consistently promote a healthy and active lifestyle among his patients and the people he interacts with. He encourages his patients to get involved in the community as well.

“Part of good health is getting involved in your community, being connected with your community, having a good social support network,” he says. His active community involvement helps Morphet provide better care for his patients.

“I basically developed relationships with people within the rotary,” Morphet says, making it easy to connect patients with other professionals or health-care providers they may require, such as: dentists, personal trainers and nurses, among others.  

Zucker, who nominated Morphet for the award, affirms one of the chiropractor’s strengths is his personable and humble manner.

“He understands that many patients already have positive and established relationships with other health-care practitioners,” Zucker comments. “Therefore, he has built a solid network within the community to refer and receive referrals from those primary care givers as well, including doctors, dentists, orthodontists, chiropodists and medical specialists.”

Morphet believes leading by example is the most powerful way to influence and inspire an individual. He practices this principle, personally and professionally. He encourages his patients to exercise regularly, eat healthy and maintain a rewarding social network. More importantly, he makes sure that he practises this lifestyle as well.

“In my practice, seeing patients’ health and quality of life improve is very inspiring,” Morphet notes. “This motivates me to continue to improve my skills and knowledge base so that I can better serve my patients.”

Morphet aspires to be a positive impact in his community, and be an important part of what makes his community a great place to live. He finds the work he does for his patients and his community very rewarding.

“I am fortunate that my wife has similar interests, is very supportive and helps with the community work I do,” he says. Naturally, his three children also grew up in an environment of community service and have been part of the projects Morphet and his wife were involved with.

“It has given our family many great memories,” he says.



Passion and purpose
When Dr. Dale Macdonald had the idea to establish the first and only private knee clinic in Calgary, one of his objectives was to help alleviate the huge backlog and expedite care for knee injury patients wanting to get timely treatment through the public health system.

With his sports fellowship with the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences, Macdonald had the opportunity to attend hospital rounds alongside orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine physicians at the University of Calgary. It was through listening to these doctors about the challenges they were facing in meeting the needs of the patient population, that Macdonald decided to be part of the solution.

“Even though the (public) system was designed such that Alberta Health mandates that (doctors) should be able to see a knee patient within 72 hours of that person hurting their knee, by their own statistics, they’re meeting that criteria only 1.2 per cent of the time. That was several years ago,” Macdonals explains.

Between 50,000 and 100,000 Albertans suffer knee injuries every year, according to Alberta Health Services. Since its inception in 2009, Macdonald’s knee clinic has received thousands of referrals from nearly 150 physicians across the province.

“Not only do we help the patient by being able to see them quickly, but we are actually helping the family doctors look good in the eyes of their patients,” Macdonald says.

The consistent referrals by medical doctors to his chiropractic practice demonstrates the mutual respect and trust Macdonald has established with other health-care practitioners over the years. When a patient is referred to his chiropractic office by another physician, he ensures the physician – and all health-care providers that have been involved in the care of that patient – are kept in the loop through a letter outlining the patient’s assessment, diagnosis and plan of management. This creates opportunities for further collaboration among the health-care providers for the benefit of the patient.

“Dr. Macdonald straddles the public and private health-care systems and gets them working in concert with each other,” fellow chiropractor Dr. Clark Konczak writes in nominating Macdonald for the Inspire Award.

It is not only his successes as a chiropractor that are earning the admiration of his colleagues and his community. His passion for sports has also led Macdonald to pioneer and get involved in several initiatives that not only helped athletes reach their full potential but also benefitted the community.

He co-founded the Stampede Road Race, a marathon that coincides with the Calgary Stampede and raises funds for charitable organizations. Since its launch in 2009, Stampede Road Race has raised more than $140,000 for local charities, Macdonald says. Close to 3,000 people participate in the event every year.

Perhaps one of the most eye-opening experiences he’s had in his career was his participation in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics in Whistler, B.C. As part of the host medical team, Macdonald had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest Paralympic athletes.

“I went downhill skiing one day with a paraplegic sit skier, and there was no way I could keep up with him. He was phenomenally good,” Macdonald recalls.  “Another fellow was a soldier who had his legs blown off by an improvised explosive device. Only four years later, he was at the Paralympics participating.”

Seeing those athletes overcome their physical limitations and compete in their respective sports was incredibly inspiring, Macdonald says.

“We go through our day and we think we’re having a bad day, we think that we’re being constrained by something. And yet, many of our constraints, as evidenced by these athletes, are self-imposed. We make our own limits,” he says.

The 2010 Paralympics was also an opportunity for the Calgary chiropractor to experience multidisciplinary collaboration at its finest, where everyone is a volunteer and each one views each other as peers. Many of them left the Olympic Village as friends and professional allies, Macdonald says.

“It gave me a really good opportunity to see how the collaborative effort can work when you take money and ego out of the equation… It is everybody volunteering their time and doing it because they love the ability to be involved with high-level athletes,” he says.

Macdonald believes in congruence between his personal and professional lives. Results, clarity and collaboration are the pillars on which he has built his practice and his multidisciplinary team.

“I’m a people person. I really enjoy treating people well. I value quality interactions.”

By finding ways to merge his profession with his passion – for sports and community – he is able to enjoy the work he does and the people he interacts with everyday.

One of his biggest aspirations is for the chiropractic profession to advance further to the top of the MSK (musculoskeletal) food chain.

“As chiropractors, we really have a unique value proposition in the greater health-care world,” he notes.


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