Sharon Kuropatwa & the Downtown/Point Douglas Team
Perhaps nowhere is the statement "There's no ‘I' in TEAM" more appropriate than for the work done by Winnipeg's Downtown/Point Douglas team to support those communities during the pandemic.
Area Director, Sharon Kuropatwa, credits her health care hero nomination to a "broad network of health and community partners who have been successful in supporting our community as we work together to ensure success in one of the country's most structurally disadvantaged neighbourhoods."
As Director, Housing, Supports and Service Integration and Community Area Director for Downtown/Point Douglas, Sharon clearly loves the people in, and the communities of, Downtown/Point Douglas that she has been working with for 13 years.
"When people speak about the Downtown/Point Douglas community area, they often speak of the socioeconomic challenges, but we also have incredible strength in the community," Sharon says. "It's a vibrant community with strong cultural connections and longstanding commitments to cooperation, partnership and support. It's a community of incredible cohesion and compassion. For those of us who work in this community, it really feeds our souls."
Sharon adds that while the work of her team is impactful, "it wouldn't be possible without the active involvement of our community partners, who do so much of the heavy lifting." These include the Aboriginal Health & Wellness Centre of Winnipeg, Klinic, Mount Carmel Clinic, Thunderbird House, Main Street Project, numerous community health organizations, and the Manitoba Government's Department of Families, to name just a few.
"We don't approach our community agencies with a message of ‘This is what we are going to do;' we come to them and ask, ‘What are your priorities and your needs? We have this piece of work to do. How can these things go together, and how can we help with what you're doing?' It's not a cookie-cutter approach," Sharon says. "Our role is to work alongside community partners and bring system supports and resources into the picture in a way that best serves our partners plans and goals. That's our role."
That cooperative model, she says, helps to support successes like the Thunderbird House COVID testing site, and the three alternate accommodation sites for those in the shelter population who need to self-isolate as a result of a positive or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.
"Being nominated as a Health Care Hero is an honour, but it's an honour that really belongs to everyone who has come together in support of the people living in the Downtown/Point Douglas community area in this extraordinary time."