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‘Heroic’ pandemic response

Memorial pediatrics professor to receive national award

Campus and Community

By Michelle Osmond

An associate professor of pediatrics in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine is receiving a special award.

Dr. Natalie Bridger is being recognized for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic ‘in a heroic way’ with a Pediatric Chairs of Canada (PCC) 2020 COVID Leadership Award.

The PCC represents the pediatrics departments in the 17 medical schools across Canada.

Initial preparedness

As part of a pandemic preparedness team mobilized early in 2020, Dr. Bridger educated Newfoundland and Labrador front line staff and conducted patient tracers to test operating procedures and to highlight gaps in knowledge, infrastructure and policies.

She also presented COVID-19 rounds to specialty groups across the province and helped develop policies and procedures both in and outside health facilities.

“I hope that the work of my team gives people the tools to keep themselves safe while diminishing some anxiety.” — Dr. Natalie Bridger

When COVID-19 cases began to appear, the team, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, Eastern Health and the provincial Department of Health, shifted from planning to response mode.

“This work has been so important to me because I feel that I am helping to navigate through a sea of misinformation,” said Dr. Bridger, who is also division head of Infectious Diseases and clinical chief for Infection Prevention and Control for Eastern Health.

“It is a difficult balance to stay vigilant and safe without becoming mired in fear. I hope that the work of my team gives people the tools to keep themselves safe while diminishing some anxiety.”

Above and beyond

Earlier this year, the PCC invited its chairs to nominate individuals or teams within their facility who have gone above and beyond to ensure safe, high-quality, high-value health care.

Drs. Vicki Crosbie and Paul Dancey, chair of the Discipline of Pediatrics, nominated Dr. Bridger. In their nomination letter, they describe Dr. Bridger as having done just that for patients, colleagues and her province.

“She championed hospital management of COVID-19, advocated for appropriate personal protective equipment for health-care providers when confronted with deliveries of dubious ratings/origins and spent countless hours meeting with all levels of government and community stakeholders,” they stated.

“When health-care workers were exposed to COVID-19, she managed their testing and quarantines while maintaining other duties. One such cohort consisted of 100 people. She answered texts and emails at all hours with calm professionalism, knowledge and wit.”

‘Meant so much’

“I was surprised and delighted when I found out about the award,” said Dr. Bridger. “The fact that my colleagues took the time to nominate me meant so much.”

The award will be presented during the PCC annual awards ceremony, taking place virtually on Dec. 11.

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