Malhotra appreciates recognition from Prince Albert with Med Gala honour

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) MNP Prince Albert Partner Barb Hogeweide, Dr. Lalita Malholtra and Boreal Healthcare Foundation CEO Cody Barnett as Malholtra was presented the MNP Award for Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare at the Med Gala on Saturday at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre.

The Annual Med Gala for the Boreal Healthcare Foundation fundraiser was a special night on Saturday at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre.

The Gala was formerly known as the Doctor’s Gala but has expanded and for the first time the event handed out three awards. Dr. Lalita Malholtra and her late husband Dr. Tilak Malhotra received the prestigious MNP Award for Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare, an honour carried over from the Victoria Hospital Foundation’s Doctor’s Gala.

Malholtra, who retired in 2022, said that being recognized along with her late husband was special.

“Well, it means a lot to my husband and to me both to be recognized in your own community,” Malholtra said. 

“Anything that happens in our own community is more precious than anything else.”

The pair were originally scheduled to receive the award in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The award celebrates an individual or individuals whose commitment to healthcare has made a significant and lasting contribution to the health and well-being of countless people in Prince Albert, central and northern Saskatchewan.

The Malhotra’s moved to Prince Albert in the 1970s and quickly became pillars in the medical community. An obstetrician gynaecologist, Lalita became known for her work delivering babies in northern communities while Tilak worked as a paediatrician.

She said they were recruited to Prince Albert, especially her husband, who filled a vital need in the city.

“Actually, Prince Albert found us,” Malhotra remembered.

Health authorities in Prince Albert originally recruited her husband, Tilak, because there was no paediatrician in the area. Once they saw Tilak’s resume, the Malhotras found themselves on the receiving end of a strong recruitment campaign. Tilak was go on to be the city’s only paediatrician for 10 years.

When Lalita arrived, she had only one daughter, and no job. However, that soon changed as the demand for obstetrics and gynaecologists grew.

The Malhotras not only lent their medical expertise to Prince Albert, they also helped raise another generation of medical practitioners. All of Malholtra’s children have become doctors. 

After being presented the MNP Award for Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare Malhotra was draped in a Star Blanket by representatives from the Northern Lights Casino with assistance from PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.

“The people from the north just embraced me and they just were so good,” Malhotra said. “I had a very small office and they would sit outside on the floor because I only had 10 chairs and they waited.

“They have given me so much encouragement, and during this time of my practice, I found many other reasons to stay in the community.”

In 2001, Dr. Malhotra was invested in the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, followed by the Order of Canada in 2006. She also later served on the Order of Canada advisory council. In 2008, she was named Citizen of the Year in Prince Albert. 

In 2022, the Victoria Hospital’s new neonatal intensive care unit was named in her honour.

She said that the NICU was a legacy of the whole family.

“We also donated a room at Alfred Jenkins—a Children’s Room—for their activities so the kids could have parties or whatever they wanted to do there, which was really good for them,” Malhotra said.

The event featured a supper and entertainment by the Steadies. Malhotra was presented the award by Cody Barnett Executive Director of the Boreal Healthcare Foundation and MNP Prince Albert Partner Barb Hogeweide.

Before the award, friends and associates honoured Malholtra for her service to the community in a video presentation. Malhotra did not make a speech but rather recorded one on video.

Funds raised from Saturday’s Gala will be put into the foundation’s general fund. According to the Boreal Healthcare Foundation they raised $161,641 to support healthcare in Prince Albert, central, and northern Saskatchewan.