WINNIPEG -- Lanette Siragusa has become a familiar face in Manitoba.

In the first few months of the pandemic, Shared Health’s Chief Nursing Officer provided daily COVID-19 updates alongside Dr. Brent Roussin, the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. Siragusa even returned to the frontlines during the pandemic -- taking a shift at a personal care home dealing with an outbreak.

A year after the first case was identified in Manitoba, life has been anything but normal for Siragusa, who now gets recognized out in public.

“We’re not a small town, but the fact that people can come up and talk to you, and you know, sometimes there’s constructive criticism. Sometimes there’s encouragement, and I accept it all with gratitude,” Siragusa told CTV News.

Siragusa has been in her role as Chief Nursing Officer since 2017. Before that, she was a labour and delivery nurse.

“I had a lot of vision as to how we could improve health-care in Manitoba, so I took advantage of the opportunity. I didn’t realize a pandemic was coming, but it’s been great.”

lanette siragusa family

(Image courtesy Lanette Siragusa)


While most Manitobans know Siragusa as someone who provides updates on COVID-19, Austin, Amanda, and Jared know her as ‘Mom.’

“If I have any downtime, I spend it with my family,” said Siragusa.

“They’re home more than they’ve ever been before. They used to be more involved with sports, and going off to school and work.”

Siragusa, who is a lifelong Winnipegger, has also been with her husband Stino most of her life.

“I was 16 and he was 17. We met at the high school dance, and we’re still together now. (We’re) best friends and going through this whole journey together.”

lanette and husband

(Image courtesy Lanette Siragusa)


Like many people, life has been very different for Siragusa these last 12 months, though she has found some new inspiration during the pandemic.

“I recently took up painting. I’m not that good, but I like it, so I’ll keep doing that and learning,” she said. “I’m hoping maybe after COVID’s done, I can take a class at the art gallery or something.”

While rising case numbers, outbreaks, and the latest restrictions often dominate the COVID briefings, Siragusa has also shared the heartwarming ways Manitobans are supporting one another. For instance, when a class at King George School in Brandon made cards thanking health-care workers for their efforts or when students at Oak Lake Community School in Oak Lake launched a rainbow of hope campaign to help seniors stay positive while social distancing.

"Your words of encouragement, your acts of kindness, your works of art, musicians playing outside the facility, parades, have all been wonderful morale boosters for our clinical staff," Siragusa said at a news conference on May 15, 2020.

As for lessons learned in the last year, Siragusa is keeping it simple.

"I think always prepare for the worst," she said. "That's one thing with this pandemic. You thought you had it under control, and then sometimes a zinger would come and you'd have to redirect your plans or intensify things."

Siragusa was recently recognized for her hard work. She received the 'Strength in the Storm Excellence Award' from Nursing the Future. ​