Click here to read the July 2019 Terminal City Times
S TA C Y B H O L A – R E E B Y E
Among the many remarkable parts in the busy life of Stacy Bhola-Reebye, there is her work. She is a doctor – a special doctor with a special calling. Dr. Bhola-Reebye is a rehabilitation hospitalist who oversees the neuromuscular-skeletal floor at Vancouver’s world-renowned GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. As an attending physician, she works with patients who have suffered life-altering setbacks such as complicated transplants, severe burns, multiple traumas or the onset of a neuromuscular disease.
Prior to her employment at Vancouver Coastal Health with GF Strong, Dr. Bhola-Reebye worked as a general practitioner. That was 10 years ago. “It was becoming difficult managing young children and a busy practice,” she says. When the GF Strong opportunity presented itself, she saw it as a chance to reconfigure her life in new and rewarding ways.
“The beauty of what I do now, compared to what I did in an office as a GP, is that I get to know people for a longer period of time. I have learned a lot about human nature, about how people think and react in a crisis. It’s immensely rewarding to work with someone who feels utterly broken when you meet, then, over time, watch as that same person comes to understand that life is not about disabilities, but about abilities.
“I like to tell my patients this: ‘At VGH, they save your life; at GF Strong, we bring you back to your life.” Dr. Bhola-Reebye has been a Terminal City Club member for six years. Given her vocation, there is more than a hint of irony that learning to swim – not as a child, but as an adult – has been one of the more rewarding benefits of her membership. Odd that, for someone who grew up in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
“Yes, I know, it’s surprising coming from the Caribbean and not knowing how to swim,” she says. “When I first joined, I watched [TCC swim instructor] John Ryan teaching my children, and I thought to myself: ‘Maybe I should do this.’ And so I did. And I have to say, swimming may not be my passion, but today, I can swim.”
Infusing a revitalized heart into an older soul extends beyond her work in rehabilitation and beyond her courage to learn swimming as an adult. Dr. Bhola-Reebye also has a deep passion for the preservation and restoration of heritage houses. Her remarkable home, which she shares with her husband Rajiv and their three children, was built in 1912. It is a premier destination as part of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s popular house tours.
“When I first got approached to put our house on tour, my initial reaction was: ‘What does that mean? It sounds like a lot of cleaning,’ ” she laughs. “In the end, you show the parts of your home you want to show. It’s been such a great experience. Interestingly, so many of the people who come through the house want to know about us – not in an intrusive way, but in a kind way.” Given her passion for Vancouver’s heritage, it’s not surprising that TCC’s history was what initially attracted her to join the Club. “I liked that it was downtown, but more importantly, I liked how it felt. It felt like my home feels. It had a heritage charm that I found irresistible.”
On the benefits of membership, Dr. Bhola-Reebye points to the value of the Club’s business entertainment as, well, invaluable. “Raj and I do office parties, Christmas parties, and conferences here. The most amazing thing for us is that we can just close our eyes and it happens. You don’t have to tell the team much beyond the basics. You certainly don’t have to micromanage. They know their stuff and the result always exceeds our expectations. And I really must say, the food now compared with six years ago when we first joined represents an enormous step forward. It’s consistently superb. They have come so far.”
Rajiv is also a doctor – a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, also known as a physiatrist. The couple work together at GF Strong. They both talk of Terminal City Club as their downtown home. “I will often say to Stacy that 20 or 30 years from now I hope our children have continued with membership,” he says. “I love the idea of maintaining that link. We do feel, when we go there, it’s home.”
On the subject of links, the couple is in the process of figuring out how to physically connect their uptown home with their downtown home. “I think we are going to buy one of the pool tables being removed as part of the renovations to the billiards room,” Dr. Reebye says. “I think we have just the right spot for it in the basement.”
And, with that, the theme of restoring life, so primal to Dr. Bhola-Reebye’s story, carries on.
Photo: Dr. Stacy Bhola-Reebye with her husband, Dr. Rajiv Reebye, and their three children.