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Who We Are: Gregg Bolton

“My primary role is in Emergency Medicine but I still consider myself a family physician first.” – Dr. Gregg Bolton, Assistant Clinical Professor (Adjunct), Collingwood

Family doctor treats trauma in tourist mecca


Family doctor Gregg Bolton had an epiphany after a Code Blue on the night shift at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital in 2015.

“It didn’t go well. As the physician in charge, I thought my team was lacking some skills, but on reflection I realized it was my own lack of leadership and communication while we were all under extreme stress,” he says.

“Nobody taught that in medical school.”

Raised in St. Marys, Ont., Gregg graduated from the University of Ottawa as a family doctor in 2009. As a resident, he was matched with a rural family medicine program run by McMaster University in Collingwood.

He and wife Colleen never looked back. They have three children. Colleen is a teacher. Gregg is an Assistant Clinical Professor (Adjunct) for McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine.

Weekend warriors

Collingwood reports more cases of traumatic injury per resident than almost any town in Ontario, largely owing to popular ski hills and hiking trails, he says.

“We call them tourist trauma weekend warriors. They come for the same adventures that attracted all of us. But the accident rate is high.”

After his own trial by fire in ER, Gregg began to push for better emergency training for family physicians, arguing that family doctors make a unique contribution by attending social impacts of an injury along with the physical.

For two years, he led informal group training, but the Collingwood hospital expanded its effort in 2018, introducing SCORE (Simulating Crisis for Optimal Response in Emergencies).

High octane SCORE simulations use programmable “patients” – high fidelity mannequins who speak, cough, vomit and go into cardiac arrest – in a test of the doctor in charge and team. Each unique simulation is devised by program creator Jesse Guscott, who is also a family doctor and academic physician.

Gregg is both teacher and coach in SCORE simulations, which have served emergency staff in Hamilton, Grimsby, St. Catharines, Collingwood and its surrounding rural communities

“I originally wanted to be a country physician, but in Emergency I found I could take immediate actions that would have a huge impact on people’s lives. The more I did that, the more I wanted to do it,” he says.

“My primary role is in Emergency Medicine but I still consider myself a family physician first.”

By: Elizabeth Meen

February 20, 2020

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine