Meet Nursing Hero Tricia Newport

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Top 5 Finalist: Tricia Newport

Whitehorse General Hospital, Whitehorse, Yukon and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada

Very few nurses working for MSF Canada have inspired me and many of my colleagues as much as Tricia Newport from Whitehorse, Yukon. She is one of the most dedicated, selfless and passionate healthcare professionals I know, always putting the world’s most vulnerable patients first – no matter if they are Syrian refugees in Lebanon, malnourished children in Chad or vulnerable First Nations communities in northern Canada. She is a true humanitarian, and a great leader who inspires those working with her.

Helping others has been her dream since she watched news reports about the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s as a 10-year old. After working as an outdoor guide and social worker in the Yukon, the Oakville, ON native studied nursing because she wanted to do humanitarian work with MSF.

Her first assignment was in Djibouti in 2009, and she has since dedicated much of her career to treating patients in the world’s most difficult humanitarian crisis hotspots. In total, she spent about 50 months on assignments with MSF – working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Cameroon, South Sudan, Niger, Lebanon, Greece and Iraq – while increasingly taking on greater leadership positions. In order not to lose touch with the Canadian healthcare system, Tricia works as a nurse at Whitehorse General Hospital between her overseas assignments. In 2014, she completed a Master in Public Health in order to better serve people in need.

While in the field, she works tirelessly to make sure patients get the best treatment possible, while at the same time trying to understand local complexities and cultural beliefs. Colleagues notice that she always remains calm, no matter how tense the situation on the ground is, and that she is always looking for innovative ways to cope with emergency situations. During a malaria outbreak in South Sudan, for example, the rainy season flooded the roads, so no one could get to the hospitals for treatment. To reach patients, Tricia and her team assembled a “motorcycle gang” to carry supplies to 15 villages, where they had trained people to treat the outbreak.

Dr. Rogy Masri from Toronto, who has worked with Tricia in Lebanon and is currently a member of her team in Iraq, where she is the medical coordinator, calls her a true leader.” She is loved by all and respected by her entire team. She exudes kindness and has the thoughtfulness to fully understand the most dire situations.” Masri also describes Tricia as an ‘unsung hero’ who is always humble and reluctant to be recognized for the incredible things she does.  He says she is one of the masterminds behind the establishment of the only fully operational healthcare facility in East Mosul, Iraq, serving a population of over 500,000 people, but that she refuses to take any credit.

Tricia is also incredibly resilient and ‘tough’. While some fieldworkers struggle with the basic living conditions in many of MSF’s field projects, Tricia considers them as almost luxurious as she lives in a shed without any electricity or running water deep in the Yukon’s wilderness when she is back in Canada. Her daily Yoga and meditation practice keeps her grounded, both in the Canadian North and during assignments in the world’s humanitarian crisis hotspots.

Nominated by: Claudia Blume, MSF Canada

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