Grande Prairie’s more vulnerable and street-engaged populations will now have easier access to health care, as a new program from Northreach hits the streets. The new program enables a mobile nurse to deliver necessary medical services to anyone, regardless of their situation, as well as offers tele-health appointments.
Northreach Society Executive Director, Johnathon Fortune, says the program will make a huge difference in the local community, and eliminate the barriers many vulnerable individuals face when seeking health care.
“As we know, less privileged individuals experience lots of obstacles obtaining health care so communities really should be mindful of the diverse nature of the homeless populations, as well as the unique challenges COVID-19 has provided us these days,” he says.
He adds in order to properly treat these individuals who would otherwise likely be unable to access medical services on their own, services need to be brought to them. Access to tele-health services comes through the program’s partnership with ACT Medical.
The program was made possible through grant funding distributed by the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta. CEO, Laura LaValley, says the foundation approved Northreach’s application for funding at $40,000 to provide this nurse.
“This was part of our emergency community support fund that comes from the government of Canada,” she says. “We really felt the funding for this project really supported health care needs for a wide variety of vulnerable populations and served a large geographical area.”
The funding for the program will last until March 31st, 2021. Fortune hopes it’s able to continue in the future after that, as anyone should be able to have access to health care, regardless of their circumstances.
“We’ve always recognized how unique the health care needs of the homeless populations and the street engaged populations are, we’ve seen for many, many years, there are certain barriers when it comes to accessing traditional health care facilities. It’s always been identified and it’s only been elevated since COVID-19,” says Fortune.
He adds Northreach Society hopes to have a robust, fullsome report on the impact the program made to the community, as the pilot becomes more established.