Patti Melanson, advocate for Halifax’s most vulnerable, dead after cancer battle

A Halifax nurse who helped make it easier for vulnerable populations such as homeless people to access health care is dead after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Patti Melanson died Saturday at her home surrounded by her husband and two daughters.

Melanson was a driving force behind Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH), an organization that provides health care “to people who are homeless, insecurely housed, street involved and underserved in our community,” according to its website.

In a statement, Trish McKay, the organization’s acting team lead, said Melanson always put vulnerable people first.

“She felt that people shouldn’t have to fit into how we deliver care or the systems we use,” McKay wrote. “Rather, it is our job as providers to figure out how to meet their needs and offer care wherever they are, however they need it.”

Order of Nova Scotia recipient

Last month, Melanson was named to the Order of Nova Scotia. The province’s biography for her noted that she was a practising nurse for more than 25 years and her career included working at Phoenix House, a shelter for youth.

“Patti has been a passionate advocate for people who often live at our community’s margins,” the biography noted. “Her success at reaching out to vulnerable people with compassion and respect has changed the way Nova Scotia provides care to its most vulnerable citizens.”

McKay said that Melanson “agitated for change in the system, not satisfied to advocate within its constraints … We will miss her greatly, but know she will never be far.”

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