Tim Murphy ’10 Brings Love of New Orleans to New Career in Public Health

After falling in love with the Big Easy during college, Murphy is making an impact in his new home.

Tim Murphy on a street in New OrleansTim Murphy ’10 discovered the charm and beauty of New Orleans on a L.O.V.E. (Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience) trip during his senior year at Manhattan College.

“It was my first time in New Orleans,” Murphy said. “I was immediately impressed by the kindness of the people and the focus on enjoying life. I came down not knowing anyone else in our group, but became good friends with all of them. Many of us remain friends to this day; and at least two other alums ended up moving here.”

Murphy was one of a few from that L.O.V.E. trip that ended up moving to New Orleans, making the trip with his wife Kaitlin in 2016. Murphy eventually landed a position with the New Orleans Health Department, working to find services for the homeless, and collaborating on initiatives to decrease the infant mortality rate.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Murphy’s work changed completely. He became the site lead for the city's mass testing site at Louis Armstrong Park, and oversaw the operation of an overflow COVID-19 hospital within the Morial Convention Center. Murphy and his team set up smaller testing sites throughout the city, and worked to find ways of getting the vaccine to people who were being overlooked.  

In January of 2021, after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines began to be distributed across the United States, the New Orleans Health Department held its first event at a senior living center.

“That was the greatest day of work I’ve ever had,” Murphy said. “We vaccinated 110 seniors. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces. One guy literally danced out of the room.”

Tim Murphy assisting someone in his jobNew Orleans, like many other American cities, began its recovery in early 2021. But last fall, another crisis gripped the city: Hurricane Ida. 

Murphy worked overnight in shelters, and checked on people stuck in their residences without power for nearly two weeks. After his wife and dog temporarily evacuated, Murphy remained in the city, sleeping on a cot in City Hall, so he could charge his phone because his home was also without power.

In December, at a gala to honor all the volunteers who assisted the city throughout the pandemic and hurricane, Murphy received an award for Excellence in Public Health and Emergency Response and a Certificate of Recognition from the mayor of New Orleans.

“It was an honor to be recognized alongside some incredible volunteers,” Murphy said. “A lot of the work that went into our vaccine distribution operations happened behind the scenes. Working in public service, awards are not something that I'm accustomed to. I was glad to shine a light on the volunteers who showed up consistently for their community.”

As New Orleans continues to build back, Murphy is hopeful for what lies ahead, especially the return of the always-joyful Mardi Gras festival in February.

By Pete McHugh