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Outlook native turned doctor recognized for leadership

Efforts to support northern community not forgotten

OUTLOOK - In times of others suffering a crisis, sometimes we ask ourselves what we can do to help.

When the Northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche was lacking the necessary supplies to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic when it began in the spring of 2020, Dr. Kendra Morrow saw a need to reach out and do what she could to help.

With that, Dr. Morrow, originally from Outlook, got in touch with the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) when an outbreak was imminent and the needs arose quickly in the community.  The SMA then reached out to the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan, who worked with community leaders in La Loche to distribute supplies to families in the area.  As well, a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign for the community was created to kickstart everything, and it wasn't long before expectations were blown away.  The campaign's initial goal of raising $15,000 was soon eclipsed, with more than $41,000 raised in just four days.

The money was used to help the people of La Loche in any way that it could, such as buying personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and even toys for neighborhood kids.

Dr. Morrow worked with the student society, the Saskatchewan Medical Association as well as community members in Saskatoon and up north to ensure that supplies reached La Loche, with goods headed up North weekly by the truckful.

Now, the Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians has recognized Morrow for her leadership efforts.  Kendra has received an Award of Excellence, given to her "For her leadership in response to the community outbreak of COVID-19 in La Loche and surrounding communities in Saskatchewan", as given by the SCFP.

Morrow, a family physician at the Saskatoon Community Clinic, says the path that led her to a life in medicine started with a school class and a popular TV show that she enjoyed when she was younger.

"In high school, I really enjoyed biology and loved the show, 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman'," said Kendra.  "I remember graduating and thinking that either dentistry or medicine would be something I may try and pursue.  After my microbiology degree, medicine felt like a clear path forward.  I loved science and I hoped to be able to apply science to help people feel better."

Morrow is quick to mention that the efforts given toward the COVID-19 crisis in La Loche came as a result of teamwork by other gifted individuals, and not just herself.  She says it pained her to see the community hit hard when the pandemic arrived.

"The Award of Excellence I received was for my role in helping to lead a wonderful team of third and fourth year medical students who worked together to accumulate through donations, supplies for our Northern brothers/sisters in La Loche when they were dealing with a large COVID-19 outbreak," she said.  "We sent food, drinking water, children's toys, and cleaning supplies.  The supply chains for the north and having readily accessible extra cleaning supplies was a challenge during COVID as there was only one truck per week going up and taking supplies, and people were stuck at home unable to leave the community to acquire more supplies.  I have worked in the north and lived in a community close to La Loche, so my heart went out to all of those affected by the lockdown and by the outbreak.  I was at home with my four-month old little girl and I wanted to try and help these Northern communities."

The efforts made to help address the community's needs brought with it challenges that had to be overcome, but Morrow and others stayed with it and ensured that needs were met, no matter how far the destination and how arduous the task.

"The scenario was a bit challenging logistically, trying to get everything shipped and delivered to the communities, but I coordinated it all with local trucking companies and as a community we made it happen!" said Morrow.  "The residents and leaders of all the communities were so grateful.  And I was so thankful for Kate Morrison, a fourth year medical student who organized the teams of medical students who went out during COVID and did all of the shopping and organizing of the items to be donated.  My professional body, the Saskatchewan Medical Association was also the liaison that connected me to the medical student volunteers and donated money to cover some of our shipping fees."

In helping La Loche and doing her part to see that a particular community's needs were met, Dr. Morrow couldn't help but do a little inner theorizing when all was said and done.  She says that it caused her to self-reflect and understand the point of view that she comes from as far as her life is concerned.

"I think anytime you have the opportunity to reflect on your own privilege, is an opportunity for growth," she said.  "I saw a community in need and I wanted to try and help.  We all share common humanity and I would hope that if my family needed help, someone would try and help us too.  As a white settler, I acknowledge that the land I live, work, and am raising my family on is Treaty Six and traditional land of the Métis, and I reflect on how important it is to remember and honour that."

For Dr. Morrow, one of the best things about her profession is being intimately involved in a person's life and seeing their progression hopefully grow along the way.

"The best part of being a physician in Saskatchewan is meeting people from all walks of life, from all demographics, and hearing their stories and connecting with them," she said.  "I try my best to care for my patients and their families, the way that I hope my family would be cared for.  It's an honour and privilege to be a part of a patient's life and their healing journey.  I really do love my job.  I am proud to come from Outlook.  It's a beautiful community with a lot of heart."