“Diane’s are really big shoes to fill”

“Diane’s are really big shoes to fill,” says Dr. Marthe Charles. And she should know.

As interim Head of Medical Microbiology and Infection Prevention and Control at VGH, she’s following in the footsteps of Dr. Diane Roscoe.

“Diane has advocated for excellent patient care throughout her career and implemented so many important changes,” says Dr. Charles. “She wanted microbiologists to make a difference.”

For 27 years Dr. Roscoe led by example, putting people first and delivering the best in patient care. A testament to her contributions was the standing-room-only crowd who turned out recently to launch her into retirement.

A career of highlights

Over her remarkable career, Dr. Roscoe witnessed and was an important figure in what she calls “a truly amazing paradigm shift in diagnostic medical microbiology and infection control.” When she started out, she used culture-based manual techniques that were slow and limited in what they could detect.

“Automation came along, which enabled laboratories to take on a greater number of tests and improved standardized specimen processing, recovery and time to detection of organisms,” she recalls. “We were the first laboratory in Canada to implement a completely automated specimen processor. And now, we’re seeing the emergence of new and novel non-culture-based techniques, largely employing molecular detection of organisms but increasingly using other principles as well. They’ve increased the range of organisms we can detect and the sensitivity of our tests, and allow us to provide answers in minutes to hours, rather than days to weeks.”

Her colleagues point to other highlights.

“Diane is a Killam Award winner and was heavily involved as the lead for teaching microbiology and infection prevention and control at UBC,” says Dr. Jennifer Grant, the medical lead for anti-microbial stewardship. “She also oversaw the consolidation of VCH’s clinical microbiology labs. She has always been the person everyone looks to for a wise and strategic point of view; she’s one of the most respected microbiologists in our province.”

Regional Medical Director of Laboratories Dr. Blake Gilks began working with Dr. Roscoe in 1993. “It’s unusual for someone to be in a leadership role for so long and to be as committed the day she finished as the day she started,” he says, noting that he will miss his colleague’s cheerful can-do attitude.

Passing the torch

Dr. Roscoe knows she’s leaving her division in good hands.

“Our medical microbiologists, technologists, laboratory assistants, and the infection control practitioners, are a very knowledgeable, highly trained and dedicated group. They’re motivated by doing the best for patient care,” she says. “I will miss them all, but have no doubt the patients at VCH will be well cared for.”