Meet Nursing Hero Finalist Leah Thorp, Saskatchewan Health Authority

Leah Thorpe.

When I think of who I would consider a nursing hero, Leah comes to mind without pause.

I had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting Leah when I became a loss mom.

She was working as the Perinatal Outreach Coordinator at the Regina General Hospital where I had delivered my son sleeping six months prior.  A friend and I arranged to meet with her and another staff member so that we could run past our ideas for a grief project- this would be a way to give back to the other families who would inevitably be facing loss in the future, just like we had.

Leah and her coworker helped to coordinate the donation of handmade mementos for stillborn and miscarried babies without hesitation, encouraging and guiding us along the way. She presented our project after having asked permission, when she travelled to a perinatal loss conference way across the country on the east coast. She helped to show us that what we are doing was worthwhile and appreciated. Because of her, we found purpose and a ways to connect and support other loss moms. I will never forget our first delivery of mementos and first feedback from a family who had impacted by our donation. She has helped us to build a supportive community.

In Leah’s role, she facilitates a Perinatal Advisory Council, and I am lucky to have become of the Patient Family advisors. She organizes meetings that have become a safe place for all of us to share our perinatal experiences, good and bad, which helps to bring meaningful change to our healthcare teams. She has arranged for management and other professionals to sit and listen to our patient experiences- this in itself has been such a gift. She has helped patients find their voices and connected them with those who need to hear it most- their healthcare providers. At a recent perinatal loss conference where she was also involved, she had six loss parents share their stories with an entire auditorium full of people who wanted to learn from us.

And finally, when I experienced a loss of another baby, I was lucky to have Leah care for me through my labour. She was the best distraction on one of the worst days, and caught my precious baby for me, born sleeping. She treated him as she would have any other baby- our delicate little son, calling him by name and bathing him for us when we did not have the strength. We will forever cherish the memory box that we came home with form the hospital, the hand and footprints she so delicately pressed with ink for us.

I want to thank Leah from the bottom of my heart for all of the meaningful work she has done within the perinatal loss community. She has touched my life in more ways than one- with encouragement, support, guidance, resources, community, and hands on nursing myself, husband and baby. Thank you for giving a voice to those who have experienced most painful losses, and for helping everyone remember our babies. You are my nursing hero.

From her manager:

Through her position as the Perinatal Outreach coordinator Leah strives to teach evidence based nursing practice to health care providers around Southern Saskatchewan. She facilitates learning in many areas of high risk obstetrics including the Neonatal Resuscitation program. When a trial Perinatal Loss Team program was developed Leah eagerly joined to participate in providing appropriate care to families experiencing a loss at a variety of gestations. She strives to take all opportunity to learn more about Perinatal Loss and co presented this response team approach at the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women’s Health Nurses conference. Leah excels in her knowledge of the aboriginal population and participates in many committees working to improve the healthcare of this population. She currently co chairs the Perinatal Loss Committee in Regina.

Leah has achieved and maintains her Canadian Certification in Perinatal nursing .

Nominated by: Jennifer McKnight