Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), awarded 2021-2022 Friends of Catholic Education Award by the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).
From left, Mark Fam, Vice President of Clinical Programs, MGH; Angela Kennedy, Chair of the Board, TCDSB; Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician, MGH; Brendan Browne, Director of Education, TCDSB; David Hogan, Principal, TCDSB.

Dr. Janine McCready honoured with 2022 Friends of Catholic Education Award for contributions to school communities during COVID-19 pandemic

On Monday, August 22, the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s (TCDSB) Director of Education, Brendan Browne, and Chair of the Board, Angela Kennedy, presented the 2022 Friends of Catholic Education Award to Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH).

The TCDSB Chair of the Board and school principals nominated Dr. McCready for this award for her exceptional contributions to school communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was presented the award during an in-person ceremony at MGH attended by members of the TCDSB as well as staff, physicians and leaders from MGH.

“In all of the chaos of the pandemic, we looked at our healthcare professionals for their guidance and reassurance. Dr. McCready and her team at MGH have been and continue to be invaluable partners to this community, and specifically for our schools,” Angela said during the award ceremony.

“Dr. McCready was a constant support and resource of health-related information for our principals throughout the pandemic and especially at times when COVID-19 cases were rising in our communities.”

Brendan echoed this sentiment.

“In education, like in healthcare throughout the pandemic, we were faced with this crisis…and all of a sudden we had to be experts in so much more,” he said.

“[Knowing that] we could turn to Dr. McCready during this difficult time, made a huge impact on our schools and for our students. It was great for us to know that we were not alone. We were in this together.”

‘We needed to do something’ to protect students and families

Mark Fam, Vice President of Clinical Programs at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), and Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician at MGH.

During her acceptance speech, Dr. McCready expressed her gratitude toward her team and the TCDSB.

“We were starting this first in-person pandemic school year, and we really had no idea what was going to happen…people were worried and there was a lot of trepidation. The only thing that I really knew was that we needed to help. We needed to do something,” she said.

“It’s amazing, these relationships we’ve been able to build…all the collaboration and amazing work that was possible because the TCDSB said ‘We want to work together as well.’”

Mark Fam, Vice President of Clinical Programs at MGH, shared words of appreciation for Dr. McCready as well.  

“Janine is a trusted and respected voice in the media and for many members of our community. I want to thank her for all her amazing work, passion and contributions. We’re so proud of her!” he said.

“I also want to thank the staff, physicians and teams involved in our collective efforts to implement low-barrier vaccine clinics in our local schools and communities.”

Supporting East Toronto schools during COVID-19

Since the start of the pandemic, Dr. McCready has worked closely with staff and leaders from schools in East Toronto and their local communities to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 and ensure schools have the supports and knowledge they need to safely facilitate in-person learning.

She initiated meetings and built relationships with local school principals, often providing guidance and advice related to infection prevention and control (IPAC) best practices through virtual meetings, phone calls and, eventually, an IPAC Champion Program for priority schools.

Alongside the School Outreach Team, she led the take-home PCR test kit initiative, and other innovative testing strategies, across East Toronto so childcare centres and schools could safely and easily test staff, children and families.

She later worked with health system partners to ensure testing remained as accessible as possible for students and families.

When COVID-19 vaccines became available to school-aged children, Dr. McCready also worked diligently to help ensure staff, children and families in East Toronto had easy, convenient access to these vaccines by advocating for and coordinating hundreds of low-barrier clinics at schools.

In addition, she served as a medical expert in dozens of virtual town halls for children, youth, parents, caregivers and community members, where she answered questions about the COVID-19 vaccine to help families make informed, confident decisions about vaccinating children.

These comprehensive efforts to help protect the community from COVID-19 are documented in the COVID-19 School Support Playbook for Healthcare Organizations, which was developed to share key learnings and help other care providers support their school communities during the pandemic.

MGH expresses its heartfelt gratitude to Dr. McCready, the School Outreach Team and other hospital staff, physicians, learners, volunteers and partners for going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their efforts have helped keep children, families and school communities safe during the pandemic, including by ensuring low-barrier access to COVID-19 vaccines close to home.

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