A new program will see nurse practitioners in Sunrise Health Region taking services directly to First Nations communities.
Under the new initiative nurse practitioners will visit three First Nations communities on a regular basis, explained Melissa Hrebenik, director of primary health care.
A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who has completed additional training beyond that of a registered nurse, so that they can provide additional health care services.
The program is one which has taken time to get off the ground. Hrebenik explained the process of accessing grant dollars began back in 2010, with both Sunrise Health Region and the Yorkton Tribal Council involved.
Once dollars were granted, it was a case of the two organizations having to determine what exactly they could bring to the effort.
“There were a few hurdles and struggles we had to go through,” she said.
Hrebenik said a key element of the program was “community consultations,” which really determined “the role and scope” of the services to be provided on the Key, Cote, and Keeseekoose First Nations.
From the Sunrise Health Region perspective, the program is a step toward its goal of “increasing and improving services to First Nations communities.”
While recognizing there are health services in both Norquay and Kamsack, Hrebenik said women on reserves often face barriers to accessing those services even in nearby communities.
“Transportation is an issue. Child care is an issue,” said Hrebenik.
Holding a women’s health clinic on reserve helps overcome some of those barriers, said Hrebenik. She added it is important to focus on women’s health because they are often the primary caregivers to the
family, and if they fall ill it can create a ripple effect of issues within a family.
Hrebenik said the clinics on reserve will help women deal with a range of health issues from osteoporosis, menopause, birth control, and mental health issues such as depression.
The first clinic was held on Cote First Nation Feb. 12.
“One day a month they’ll be out in each community,” said Hrebenik.
The second Tuesday of each month the clinic will be held at Cote, the second Wednesday at Keeseekoose, and Thursdays at Key.
Women wishing to visit the clinic will be able to make an appointment, or just drop-in on the specified dates, said Hrebenik.
The clinics are already being well-received, offered Hrebenik.
“People are excited having services provided in their community,” she said. “They’re asking when there will be a men’s clinic … They want to see it expanded and build on it already.”