April 23, 2012
Dr. Peter Toussaint, physician, humanitarian, healthcare advocate, and volunteer will be presented with the University of Maine at Fort Kent's Distinguished Service Award at the University's 130th Commencement on Saturday, May 12.
Peter MacLaren Toussaint is a sixty-year resident of the St. John Valley. He and his childhood sweetheart, Janet Nadeau of Fort Kent, were married in Montreal in 1968 and returned to their hometown to raise their six children. This occurred after a long education leading up to Peter's medical degree from McGill University in 1970, followed by five additional years of specialty training in general surgery.
Dr. Toussaint's late father, Dr. Leonide Toussaint, was a general practitioner in Fort Kent for 37 years. His mother, Georgette, was an operating room nurse in Montreal prior to becoming a mother to six children.
From his dad, Peter learned patient advocacy and the healing powers of a gentle bedside manner. Two decades ago, while serving on the UMFK Foundation, Peter and his wife established a Nursing scholarship in memory of Dr. Leonide and Georgette Toussaint.
Along the way the new surgeon sharpened his skills by his exposure to master surgeons like Dr. Paul Johnson, Dr. Paul McBreairty, and Dr. Mel Aungst. This broadened his capabilities and prepared him for the demanding tasks that lay ahead.
After leaving his surgical practice, Dr. Toussaint underwent additional training in Tropical Medicine and Parasitology at the University of West Virginia. Soon thereafter he accomplished a boyhood dream of volunteering his surgical services in underdeveloped countries. This led him to Nicaragua, Bolivia, Burundi and Sri Lanka with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres), the world's largest humanitarian non-governmental organization providing emergency aid to victims of natural or man-made disasters.
Over the years Dr. Toussaint has provided numerous community lectures on cancer, cancer prevention, specialized operative techniques.
Dr. Toussaint is an advocate for universal health care and served on Governor Baldacci's Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care. He was a director and past president of the UMFK Board of Visitors. His commitment to Fish River Rural Health as a board member is ongoing. He is an advocate for disaster preparedness and was the principal author the emergency management plans for Eagle Lake, Fort Kent, and the St. John Vianney Parish.
By way of a personal challenge to venture forth and not to yield, Dr. Toussaint earned a master of business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2009.