Feature Article: Dr. Marina Salvadori honoured as YMCA Woman of Excellence

Dr. Marina Salvadori says that besides clean water, vaccinations are the single most important medical intervention on the planet. That fact is what drives her to be a passionate advocate for vaccination policy and making immunizations equitable and accessible for all.

This week, Dr. Salvadori's work as a paediatrician and a faculty member, and her advocacy work across the province and country was recognized with a 2017 YMCA Women of Excellence Award. The award is an honour that she shares with eight other inspirational women in the London community.

"It's a huge honour," said Dr. Salvadori, "and I have to say that the other candidates were very impressive women in London, so I am really proud to be representing both London Health Sciences Centre and Western University."

For just over a decade, Dr. Salvadori has been part of the national advisory committee for immunizations, helping to draft public policy and guidelines for vaccinations. She is also involved in the Canadian Paediatric Society to advocate for the funding of vaccines on the provincial level.  She is especially proud of the fact that Ontario has one of the best vaccine programs in the country. 

"Just in September we started HPV vaccines for boys in a routine program, that's is not the case in every province," she said, the passion for this topic coming through in her voice. “I love doing this. I love taking away barriers so that it's equitable and that ability to pay doesn't prevent you from getting a vaccine. It's remarkable that now we are affecting cancer with the HPV vaccine and we are going to eradicate polio in my lifetime, I know it."

Salvadori began her career at SickKids in Toronto, and moved to London after serving as the paediatric lead in Walkerton during the Walkerton water crisis in 2000. She was one of the first health care workers to take part in the relief efforts. Working on the front-lines providing treatment to children during that time had a profound effect on her outlook. 

"It was a life-changing experience," she said. "There were hundreds of people coming into emerg, everyone was vomiting and scared, and not able to drink the water and I was newly graduated. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before."

After the crisis she also played a major role for ten years in the follow-up clinic and researched the long-term effects of the tragedy. 

After her time in Walkerton, she was recruited to London Health Sciences Centre and Western University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry as the first specialist in Paediatric Infectious Disease. She has remained an important fixture in the Department of Paediatrics as a clinician, mentor and teacher ever since.

"Our students and residents hold Dr. Salvadori in the highest esteem and see her as the role model of the ideal clinician; compassionate, comprehensive and caring," said Dr. Rieder, Chair-Chief of Paediatrics at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. "She was the first woman in our Department to achieve the rank of professor and she serves as a model of how to combine clinical excellence, academic curiosity and scholarly rigor."

She received her YMCA Women of Excellence award at a ceremony on May 17th, at the London Convention Centre.