‘The Angel of the North’, Dr. Lalita Malhotra, received the rarest award given by the City of Prince Albert on Sunday during a retirement ceremony in her honour.
The Award of Merit was presented to Malhotra by Mayor Greg Dionne on behalf of the City; an award that has only been given to around 200 people who have significantly contributed to the community in some way.
“That was a big honour,” said Malhotra. “It is a very exceptional award.”
Her other recognitions include receiving the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and becoming a member of the Order of Canada. She was also named one of the top 35 women in Canada by Canadian Living Magazine and Prince Albert’s Citizen of the Year in 2007.
Dr. Malhotra has been practicing obstetrics, gynaecology and family medicine in Prince Albert for 45 years. She has delivered over 10,000 babies and is seeing her third generation of patients from the same families since settling in Saskatchewan with her pediatrician husband, Dr. Tilak Raj, in 1975.
“We had an agreement that I would deliver the babies and he would look after the babies,” Malhotra said of her late husband. “That has been the teamwork for all our lives before he passed away.”
To honour her husband’s legacy, she donated $800,000 to the Victoria Hospital Foundation to build a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Prince Albert, so babies from northern communities wouldn’t be forced to fly to larger medical centers for specialized treatment.
“The NICU for the North will be opening on September 8th,” she said. “This is basically for all of the northern babies, so that when they come, they will not be separated from their mothers like when they have to go to Saskatoon or Regina.”
She said the new NICU will encourage new mothers to breastfeed by allowing parents to stay with their babies while receiving care in the new ward.
Although June 30 was her last day working as a physician out of her clinic on Central Avenue, she is not letting retirement stop her from contributing to her community’s wellness.
“I have a project on my plate already,” said Malhotra. “I have been meeting with the Premier [of Saskatchewan] about it and we will follow that up with the Education Minister.”
Dr. Malhotra is currently working towards building a school for First Nation’s boys to learn career skills and help them gain employment.
She said she can’t thank those that stood behind her during her extensive career enough.
“I want to thank every patient of mine who has been with me for 40 years. Everybody has been just amazing,” she said. “My heart goes out to everybody and I hope I can continue contributing to the community. This is home.”