Above: Maria Sampson receives care from nurse practitioner Françoise Juneau at Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
Health and the First Nations Health Authority are working together to
increase the number of nurse practitioners (NPs) who provide care to
First Nations communities and Aboriginal individuals and families.
practitioners are an integral part of the health care system and this
Island Health and First Nations Health Authority partnership will help
find ways to ensure improved access to care for First Nations and
Aboriginal communities," said Health Minister Terry Lake.
First Nations Health Authority has provided a $145,000 grant to Island
Health to support hiring nurse practitioners and start-up of their
"Nurse practitioners play an important role in
delivering primary care services to First Nations communities in BC and
this funding is intended to alleviate some of the cost pressures
associated with the hiring and start-up of an NP practice," said Richard
Jock, Vice-President of Policy, Planning and Strategic Services with
the First Nations Health Authority.
Jock said the partnership
with Island Health on initiatives like this provides opportunities for
shared resources and to support and learn from NPs working in First
Nations communities by engaging them in dialogue about best practices,
lessons learned and challenges.
"The First Nations Health
Authority values working closely with Island Health to improve health
service delivery to First Nations communities on Vancouver Island,
including opportunities like this that will result in more NPs serving
BC First Nations individuals, families, and communities," Jock said.
working group has been established to determine the most effective use
of the grant. It may be used for cultural safety training, set-up costs,
equipment, nurse practitioner mentoring and other costs that will
enhance NP services to First Nations communities.
one-time contribution from the First Nations Health Authority is much
appreciated," said Ian Knipe, Director of Aboriginal Health for Island
Joanne Maclaren, chair of Island Health's Nurse
Practitioner steering committee, said NPs are well-suited to meeting the
needs of Aboriginal clients and patients. When recent hiring procedures
are complete, Island Health will have 47 nurse practitioners across the
region serving many populations, including a particular focus on
primary health care.
"Nurse practitioners are
nurses with advanced knowledge and clinical skills and provide a full
range of primary health care," said Maclaren. "They are able to complete
health assessments, diagnose illness, order lab tests and medications
and refer to specialists. Often these activities occur in
non-traditional medical settings such as Friendship Centres and homes
and include families in health promotion and teaching."
"First Nations communities have been
really supportive of the work that I do. People have been really open
and accepting. I feel valued when I'm out in the communities," she said.
who has Mi'kmaq and Montagnais ancestry, received a Master of Nursing
from McGill University in Montreal and a Diploma in Outpost Nursing from
Dalhousie University in Halifax on her way to becoming a nurse
practitioner. She worked with Aboriginal clients in northwest Ontario
and Manitoba before moving to Victoria to work as a Registered Nurse at
the Cool Aid Community Health Centre.
Juneau is grateful to the
Cool Aid Community Health Centre for supporting her transition to the
role of nurse practitioner for Island health where she is one of four
NPs who care predominantly for First Nations and Aboriginal clients.
Several more NPs provide outreach to First Nation communities.
welcomes the challenges of her role. "It's never boring. Every day is
different. It's interesting – not just what we see clinically but also
in the opportunity to work with families and the rest of the
communities. I'm always learning something whether is about a
community's history or through interesting conversations that I have."
of personal and professional interest, Juneau has educated herself
about how historic events have created lasting traumas throughout the
First Nations and Aboriginal population and how adversity and poverty
contribute to long-term health problems.
Juneau is encouraged by the increased focus on Aboriginal health that she has seen in recent years.
"I'm becoming more optimistic. There's a lot more awareness, a lot more respect," she said.
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