Dr. Patrick McGrath wins first-ever national Legacy of Leadership award.

Legacy of Leadership award. for Dr. McGrath

Dr Pat McGrath has been honoured with the Legacy of Leadership Award

For Dr. Patrick McGrath, the big reward is helping other people.

Nevertheless, the vice-president of research, innovation and knowledge translation for both Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK Health Centre, has been honoured with an array of major awards for his passion and vision, including most recently the Legacy of Leadership award.

In fact, McGrath is the first-ever recipient of the national award, which recognizes “exceptional individuals who have made long-lasting and outstanding contributions to advancing Canada’s health system.” 

The inaugural award was presented by HealthCare CAN, the national voice of healthcare organizations and hospitals across the country, at the 2016 National Health Leadership Conference held in Ottawa this past June.

“I think that I’ve had more recognition than I deserve,” McGrath said in a video produced by HealthCareCAN to explain his innovative work. “And that’s … because of the excellent people that are around me.”

That perspective is what makes him such a “transformational leader,” NSHA president and CEO Janet Knox said in the same video.

A clinical psychologist, senior health administrator, scientist and social entrepreneur, McGrath is “very focused on who we are serving, how we do that, and gives of himself in terms of helping others create the very best of their own abilities,” Knox said.

McGrath may be a team captain, but he credits his teammates with helping him make projects such as the Strongest Families Institute a success, from his home base in Halifax to countries such as Finland and Vietnam.

“It’s a team sport, in health,” he said. “You can’t be a solo leader. You have to have a team, and you have to build your team, and you have to trust your team.”

That includes Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, who partners with him on the Strongest Families Institute, a non-profit group that delivers mental health care to families locally and globally, and is a colleague at Dalhousie University’s psychiatry department.

“Strongest Families is a distance education system of care, providing families with help to overcome problems like child behaviour difficulties,” Lingley-Pottie explained.

The program uses technology to bring mental health support to children and parents right to their homes, Knox said. “He’s really making a mark on how we use creative and innovative ways to meet needs in the world.”

Strongest Families is an important tool because between 40 and 60 per cent of families pull out of therapy before they’re finished, largely due to difficulty participating in the process, McGrath said.