A Conversation with Dr. Kerry Beal: The “Chocolate Doctor”

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From Haldimand War Memorial Hospital

To The Haldimand Press

DUNNVILLE—When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Ontario, Dr. Beal rose to the occasion, playing a critical role mitigating the effects of COVID-19 among the homeless and those marginally housed. As the lead physician at Shelter Health Network, Dr. Beal has worked tirelessly to ensure access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines is equitable by reaching people who may have fallen through the cracks. 

Utilizing the connections in public health she built in her 20 years working in the Hamilton and Haldimand areas, Dr. Beal and her team helped set up isolation centres, arranged both symptomatic and surveillance testing in the homeless sector for both clients and staff, and provided accessible drop-in sites for vaccination. She also took her team to encampments and to the homebound, ensuring the widest possible coverage.

Dr. Kerry Beal

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By 2023, Dr. Beal and her team have administered several tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests and many thousands of COVID-19 vaccines. For going above and beyond the call of duty as a physician, Dr. Beal — who is also an Emergency Physician at Haldimand War Memorial Hospital — received the Ontario College of Family Physicians 2022 Award of Excellence (Hamilton). Dr. Beal’s team was also awarded the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford’s Peace Medal Award, which is presented to individuals and groups who have extensively contributed to promoting social justice in their communities and elsewhere. 

“I’m not in it for the accolades,” said Dr. Beal. “You know, I have discovered that I have the ability to get things done – that is what is important to me at the end of the day.” 

Outside the world of medicine, Dr. Beal is a passionate chocolatier. Dubbed “The Chocolate Doctor,” she has travelled throughout the world, from the United States to Italy, attending trade shows and selling her chocolate tempering equipment. With her EZtemper she was invited to be a sponsor of the World Chocolate Masters in Paris in 2018. 

Dr. Beal’s tip to stay active this winter: “Everyone needs a hobby or personal passion outside of work, especially during the winter months, when exercise and outdoor time can be a challenge. For me, that activity is making chocolate.”

While chocolate brings her joy, Dr. Beal’s passion is giving back to her community through healthcare.

This feature first ran in the Winter 2023 edition of Hertbeats, a quarterly newsletter from Haldimand War Memorial Hospital and Edgewater Gardens.