Health Care Hero
Health Care Hero
This award honours a woman who is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all people in her community. Through her work in the health care sector, she has directly responded to the needs of individuals impacted by the pandemic. Perhaps she is a doctor, a nurse, a medical officer or individual working in long-term care who provides patient advocacy, support and care. She is called by her duty of care and shows up time and time again for those who need her. She elevates the value of physical, mental or spiritual well-being of each person she comes across and demonstrates leadership in health care, athletics, recreation and/or community programming. She inspires and empowers individuals to make positive change in their overall health, supports the concept of building healthy neighbourhoods, and strives to make a difference in the lives of others.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson is Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH), having held the role for over 25 years. She is a graduate from Western Medical School and completed her Master’s of Health Sciences, Community Health & Epidemiology, and her residency in Public Health & Preventative Medicine at the University of Toronto. As the MOH, she provides public health expertise to support health surveillance, and also leads community health planning, research and program development. For more than two decades, she has ensured Hamiltonians are cared for through her focus on population health, health integration and disease control initiatives. Now more than ever, as the pandemic continues, Elizabeth’s role is essential to protecting the wellbeing of our community and saving lives.
Andrea Pohl has dedicated her life to supporting our most valued and vulnerable residents – our seniors. She can be described as passionate, authentic, inspiring, and a true champion for her staff and residents, As Halton Region’s Services for Senior Director, Andrea is responsible for providing a range of services that meet the needs of the Region’s three accredited long-term care homes, their 572 residents, three Adult Day programs and four assisted living sites that enable older adults to maintain their independence. She holds an MBA from Athabasca University, a BA from Carlton University, and a Long Term Care Management diploma from the Canadian Healthcare Association. Andrea has extensive experience in long term care and has worked for several homes over a span of more than 25 years.
Amanda Weatherston started her career in healthcare at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) during the SARS pandemic as a screener and then as a nurse. Her passion for healthcare began at a young age, after a short experience at a children’s hospital. Amanda loves to travel and early in her career, she worked abroad as a nurse in Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. She eventually returned to SJHH, leading quality initiatives and then taking on her first manager role in Complex Care and Rehab. Amanda has managed Corporate Flow, Bed Allocation and the Nursing Resource Team, Screening, Satellite Health Facility and now the Congregate Settings and COVID Response Team. Amanda is also in the last stretch of completing her Masters of Health Administration.
Dr. Cheryl Van Der Mark
Dr. Cheryl Van Der Mark is a vibrant and energetic entrepreneur and healthcare provider, committed to supporting the well-being of her patients and the local and global communities she is part of. She currently leads one of the largest wellness clinics in the Hamilton area. Her philosophy of wellness focuses on the whole being, as well as the health of the whole community. She embodies the ‘give back’ spirit, having volunteered for past disaster relief efforts around the world, and always contributing locally.
Dr. Cheryl’s quick actions during the pandemic ensured both the continuation of treatment for patients (including frontline health care workers) at a critical time as well as employment for 17 people within the clinic.
Dawn Martin, RPN and has been supporting and enhancing the lives of patients, residents and families for many years. She currently welcomes and comforts families at St. Joseph’s Villa, as they make the difficult and emotional transition to long-term care. Most recently, she volunteered to work straight nights to join the frontline staff in this fight against COVID. She has played a key role supporting the SJH COVID Crisis Response Team, assisting them in dealing with the pandemic, and she is now working with COVID patients at one of their sites. Alongside this work, Dawn also spearheaded the Resident Accessibility Team, is a member of the Spirit Committee, and fundraises whenever possible. Her spirit, selflessness, and compassion is admired and cherished by everyone around her.
Dr. Erica Roebbelen
Dr. Erica Roebbelen consistently prioritizes holistic, dignified care of her patients, with the pandemic revealing her relentlessness in providing solutions for the elderly or under-resourced for whom technology-based consultations are impossible. Whether conducting visits to homes or encampments to conduct Covid-19 tests, or ensuring safe, uninterrupted access to her Hamilton Family Health Team practice, Erica’s initiative, compassion, and expertise is remarkable. Erica is passionate about health care for Indigenous People and new Canadians. She supports patients experiencing homelessness through Hamilton’s Shelter Health Network, where she has served as Acting Director. She was instrumental in establishing an Overdose Prevention Site and has strongly advocated for safe injection sites. Erica is invested in research, publishing, learning, and instruction, and her leadership in medical education continues to be deeply impactful.
Heather Harvey received her Masters of Health Science from the University of Toronto and has been practicing community nutrition for over 18 years. During that time, she has worked in the US and across southern/central Ontario, most recently at the City of Hamilton. Heather’s work has involved supporting new mothers, ensuring healthy food environments at childcare centres and working with the City of Hamilton’s Food Advisory Committee. This past year, Heather was deployed to Public Health Services’ COVID-19 Hotline, where she is Team Lead and has assisted over 4000 callers. Heather is an active member of her community, having served as a Board Member with McMaster Children’s Centre and President of Cootes Paradise Elementary Home and School Association.
Jessie Mason has proudly served at St Joe’s Hospital as a nurse, with grace, patience, and respect. Jessie’s patients know that she is the type of person who treats strangers with just as much kindness, warmth, and generosity as she would her family and friends. Jessie has paved a path for herself in the healthcare sector with integrity and dignity and continues to approach the challenges of the pandemic with love as her guiding force.
Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar
Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar is a family physician with extra training in psychotherapy. For over 30 years, she has been a healthcare hero, dedicating her time and energy working at community health centres, while also spending 18 years in full-service family practice in Hamilton. Before that, she spent 10 years offering healthcare in the remote Himalayas. In 2017, she co-founded Body Brave, a charitable organization offering free treatment to people struggling with devastating eating disorders and where she currently volunteers as the full-time Medical Director. In just three years, she has built a small but mighty clinical team that has supported over 1600 people, as well as educating over 1000 healthcare professionals. Karen has become a lifeline for many during the pandemic.
Kathleen Leach is a Hamilton pharmacist and small business owner, who has met the challenges presented by COVID-19 and gone above and beyond for her staff, patients, and community. At the beginning of the pandemic, Kathleen worked alone for months to protect the health and well-being of her staff. She also went to great lengths to serve her patients, personally dropping off prescriptions to her most vulnerable clients after hours. Kathleen also managed and mitigated prescription shortages, driving out of the city to find her patients’ needed medicines. She provides a continuum of care for our community, administering flu shots, running educational webinars, and keeping a strong volunteer presence through her role as the President of the Board of Directors for St. Leonard’s Society.
Dr. Sarah Khan
Dr. Sarah Khan is an Infectious Disease Specialist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. She is the Associate Medical Director for Infection, Prevention and Control with Hamilton Health Sciences and lead Infection Control Physician for all COVID-19 related matters at McMaster Children’s Hospital. She represents community needs with a voice at Hamilton Public Health, Ontario Health West and provincial committees to develop COVID-19 guidelines. Dr. Khan is a founding member of an Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC) which advocates for anti-racist and anti-oppressive systems and actions across her organization and within her community. Her advocacy for patients, families, healthcare providers and vulnerable populations proves her to be a role-model in healthcare, public health, education and social justice.
Vanessa Jarusauskas graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2017, and then began her career as a receptionist at Parkview Nursing Home. Vanessa had worked at Parkview while finishing her degree and learned a great deal about working with the elderly. Currently, Vanessa works with the Recreation Team at The Village of Wentworth Heights Retirement & Assisted Living Facility, where she spends her days planning events for the residents, setting up family Zoom meetings, and most importantly, offering a listening ear, and a familiar face. Vanessa is truly someone who brings so much joy to the seniors she serves, throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Anna Policelli is a dedicated staff member at Joseph Brant Hospital who has gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Vice President of the CUPE Union, she has spent the past year working with her fellow staff members to protect their rights and safety during such uncertain times. Anna has also spent the last eight years as a Health & Safety rep within her local. She is also the owner of Marvan Cleaning, a company she began to help those who need assistance in keeping a clean and happy home. Her commitment to her job, the Union, her business and her children is truly admirable.
Madison Brydges has been working as a primary care paramedic in Halton Region for nine years. From the very beginning, she has taken an active role on the Health & Safety team and has been a silent giant behind the scenes. When the pandemic hit, Madison took on the role of team lead of the Health & Safety Team. She has worked tirelessly to make sure the paramedics in Halton Region are as safe as possible and helped to start an important Covid-19 working group. Madison’s colleagues assert, “Without her leadership during the pandemic, we would’ve been lost!” Madison is also in her final year of studies at McMaster University, where she is working towards her PhD in Health Studies.