Honouring Toronto General Hospital nurse John Maddigan through UHN’s nursing awards

John Maddigan with his wife, Jennifer Maddigan, and their children on a ski trip. (Photo: Jennifer Maddigan)

John Maddigan spent his entire 14-year nursing career at Toronto General Hospital, including 12 years in the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU).

“He loved being a nurse on that unit,” shares Jennifer Maddigan, John’s wife. “He was so proud to be a part of that team and to work with the best of the best.”

John’s friends and co-workers would describe his personality as larger-than-life. He was the kind of person who wore his heart on his sleeve.

“He just really wanted to do good in every aspect of his life,” says Jennifer. “Whether it was in a father figure role, as a husband, as a nurse, as a friend. He really gave his all in everything that he did.”

John passed away unexpectedly in 2018 at 47 years old. A memorial held at Toronto General Hospital showed the immense impact he had on his colleagues.

“It was so wonderful to have nurses and other hospital staff approach us from so many different units to talk about John and how wonderful he was with them and how much they learned from him,” describes Jennifer. “It wasn’t just the MSICU staff – it was staff from everywhere.”

When it came to honouring her late husband, Jennifer and her family decided that sponsoring a nursing award at UHN would be the best way to continue building John’s legacy.

“I just felt this need to make sure that he was never forgotten at Toronto General Hospital,” emphasizes Jennifer. “And a few months after he passed away, the idea came to me. It just seemed to fit perfectly.”

The John Maddigan Memorial Nursing Award is granted each year to a nurse in the MSICU who has shown a commitment to education and a dedication to ongoing excellence in nursing care. His colleagues were eager to help Jennifer build this award in his memory.

“The way that they stepped up and ran two fundraisers has really helped the fund take root,” acknowledges Jennifer. “And for us to know that it’s going to be there for a while is just so meaningful.”

As someone who joined the nursing career later in life, John recognized the importance of ongoing learning in improving his nursing practice. He also loved sharing his knowledge with others to help them become better nurses.

“It didn’t necessarily have to be in a formal way,” explains Jennifer. “But, especially with the kids, showing the importance of always going into a situation and figuring out how can I be better?”

This award has become even more meaningful to Jennifer as she starts her master’s degree in nursing this fall at York University. She recognizes the incredible opportunities the John Maddigan Memorial Nursing Award has provided to outstanding nurses in the MSICU.

“I have a much better appreciation, now for what it means for someone else to have that opportunity to get a little bit of assistance,” affirms Jennifer.

Through her studies, Jennifer wants to identify ways to help nursing students and early career nurses develop coping strategies to manage mental health challenges during their careers. Ultimately, she wants to follow in John’s footsteps.

“I really hope to be able to teach one day,” says Jennifer.

John is incredibly loved and missed by his family, friends and colleagues. Through the John Maddigan Memorial Nursing Award, he continues to positively influence the experiences of nurses and patients in the MSICU and support exceptional care as he did during his career.

Nursing awards at UHN are made possible through the generosity of donors. For more information on how you can help, please contact Alexandra Celebre.

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