By Amarachi Amadike
Earlier this week, Dr. Janine McCready, an infectious diseases physician at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), was presented with the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s (TCDSB) 2022 Friends of Catholic Education Award for her exceptional contributions to school communities during the pandemic.
The Friends of Catholic Education Award recognizes significant contributions to Catholic education by members of the public or organizations.
In attendance were Mark Fam, Vice President of Programs at Michael Garron Hospital; Director of Education Brendan Browne; and TCDSB Trustee for Ward 11, Angela Kennedy.
During the pandemic, McCready managed countless inquiries from educators across 110 schools in Toronto’s east end. She coordinated school vaccine clinics and adopted the lead role in the Take-Home Test Initiative which put proactive testing at the forefront of Toronto’s fight against COVID-19.
“We were starting the first in-person pandemic school year and we really had no idea what was going to happen,” said McCready. “We knew that people were worried and that we needed to help.”
Although McCready was unsure what “help” would be needed, she requested a team which MGH swiftly provided. Together they began cold-calling schools in the area, offering a much-sought-after helping hand as a point of contact for information.
Her passion to help the community quickly caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who acknowledged her efforts in a speech last year.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many questions arose regarding the safety of our communities and McCready offered support to parents and students in Toronto schools. She also provided students and staff with asymptomatic testing which created another layer of protection against the spread of COVID-19.
“It really enabled childcare centres and schools to safely take care of kids and much more easily test kids than perhaps our other methods,” said Fam.
She also participated in many webinars through which she educated parents, staff and students about the virus.
All speakers at the event mentioned McCready’s dedication to providing education and community support during the pandemic. Angela Kennedy shared a quote from a TCDSB principal who praised McCready for the “clear and accurate information; active and tangible support; and warm-hearted grace” that she provided “in a time of fear, anxiety and acute stress.”
The TCDSB awards just one person with the Friends of Catholic Education Award annually, but McCready emphasized that the assistance she provided was a collaborative effort.
“None of this would have been possible without all of the work that everybody did—from the pharmacy team to all of the people that put together the thousands of take-home kits,” said McCready.