New awards recipients humbled by recognition

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Tammy Gillis, Dr. Lalita Malholtra, Dave Dutchak and Trevor Dutchak were the recipients at The Med Gala at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Saturday evening.

The Annual Med Gala for the Boreal Healthcare Foundation fundraiser was a special night for more than one individual 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. 

The two new awards were the Collaborative Care Award, which was presented to Parkland Ambulance and the Nursing Excellence Award, which was awarded to Tammy Gillis.

Parkland Ambulance CEO Trevor Dutchak was pleased to see Parkland Ambulance recognized.

“We are very fortunate to be the first one and that just meant that much more, for them to think of us to be the first one to receive the award,” Dutchak said. 

“The amount of time and effort and work that our team from my grandfather to my dad to our family to all of our paramedics, communications, community paramedics and support staff have put in over 50 years, it’s just the icing on the cake to receive something like that.” 

Parkland Ambulance is also celebrating 50 years of serving Prince Albert and the area. Dutchak said that also makes the award special.

“We had one ambulance (and) two staff when we had started and now we’re up to 80 plus staff and 10 ambulances on and it is crazy just how busy it is, but the amount of care and compassion that our paramedics and our communications specialists give is just second to none,” Dutchak said.

The Collaborative Care Award celebrates innovation in healthcare. The Med Gala itself expanded to celebrate nurses and collaborative healthcare teams in Prince Albert and wider Saskatchewan.

ParklamdMichael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Anchor Managed Solutions representative Pat Kolysher, Dave Dutchak, Trevor Dutchak, Boreal Healthcare Foundation CEO Cody Barnett and Anchor Managed Solutions representative Muhammed Zeeshan. Parkland Ambulance was presented the first Collaborative Care Award at The Med Gala on Saturday evening at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre.

Gillis was also honoured to be recognized for her work, though she does not seek out acclaim.

“It’s very humbling,” she said. “I have been the manager of the ER for seven years and have been a nurse for 30 and not once did I ever put ‘win an award’ on my list of things I’m trying to accomplish, of course not.”

According to the Boreal Healthcare Foundation, the Nursing Excellence Award is not just an accolade; it’s a heartfelt thank you to those who demonstrate unparalleled dedication to patient care, innovation, and leadership, impacting countless lives.

Gillis, who heads the Emergency Room at the Victoria Hospital said she loves her job.

“I have loved nursing my entire career, and even before,” she said.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Anchor Managed Solutions representative Muhammed Zeeshan, Tammy Gillis, Boreal Healthcare CEO Cody Barnett and Anchor Managed Solutions representative Pat Kolysher. Tammy Gillis was presented the first Nursing Excellence Award at The Med Gala on Saturday evening at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre.

Gillis has worked in several places before finding the Victoria Hospital ER.

“When I arrived in PA at the Vic, I started working in the ER within a matter of weeks. I remember coming home from work and saying to my husband ‘I love this kind of nursing; this speaks to me,’” she said. “It’s fast-paced, it’s thinking on your feet, and it’s solving the immediate problem in front of you as fast as you can. I enjoyed that part of it, and I have never really left the ER in the last 20 years.”

On the rare occasions Gillis leaves the ER, it’s to teach at the University of Saskatchewan. She describes it as a bit of a selfish gesture because it allows her to find students who are suited for working the ER and who want to come work in the emergency department.

Gillis said that she has met many amazing colleagues from doctors to fellow nurses. The nurses who work in the ER continue to amaze her.

“I am amazed and astounded every day how they keep coming back,” she said. “We went through COVID. It was masks and gloves and goggles and shields and gowns and not knowing whether or not you were going to be safe. What were you going to take home to your kids? And they kept showing up.

“They provide that help and it’s incredibly gratifying to work with a team like that because every day they come and they put their best foot forward and they strive for excellence,” she added.

“I have a team that really wants to be excellent and that part of it makes my job actually fairly easy when it comes to mentoring and teaching and learning. They want it and I always say there are two things I can’t teach. I can’t teach work ethic and I can’t teach enthusiasm for the job, and my staff have that in spades.”

The event featured a supper and entertainment by the Steadies. Gillis and Dutchak were presented the awards by Cody Barnett Executive Director of the Boreal Healthcare Foundation and Anchor Managed Solutions representatives Pat Kolysher and Muhammed Zeeshan.

Before the award, friends and associates honoured Dutchak and Gillis for their service to the community in video presentations. Both Gillis and Dutchak did not make a speech but rather recorded one on video.

Dutchak thought expanding the awards was an excellent concept.

“I thought that was pretty neat to think of because we work very closely with the nurses and the doctors at the hospital … so it is neat to recognize everybody in the whole system.”

He also thanked his team for their caring and compassionate work. 

“We wouldn’t be able to receive an award like this if it wasn’t for our team. Through the way that they care for our community. They’re the ones that make Parkland Ambulance what it is,” he said.

Gillis also thanked the entire medical community for their contributions.

“I just think that we are incredibly fortunate here in PA to have to have the medical services that we do have,” she said. “We have physicians that are who work hard day in, and day out, we have a hospital. We have Parkland Ambulance; we have physicians like Doctor Malhotra who gave and gave and gave.”

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.

Gillis remembered Malhotra from her early days in the profession.

“I always laughed because the only baby I ever delivered I caught because Doctor Malhotra had two patients delivering at the same time and she was in with the other one, so I helped catch the other baby until she could roll on in and do all the hard work,” Gillis said.

Gillis said that people are quick to pick apart the medical system but people should take a step back and appreciate it.

“I’m not saying that we can’t do better because we always strive to improve, but I think sometimes to take a step back and to look at what we do have and to be grateful for what we do have is what we need to do,” Gillis said.

Funds raised from Saturday’s Gala will be put into the foundation’s general fund. The title sponsor for The Med Gala was Mann Northway.

According to the Boreal Healthcare Foundation, they raised $161,641 to support healthcare in Prince Albert, central, and northern Saskatchewan.