When residents of a motel in Saskatoon were required to move out of their home for safety reasons in July, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) staff joined in the collaborative community response to help and support them during a difficult and stressful situation.
Primary Health Care (PHC), Mental Health and Addiction Services and First Nations and Métis Health Services employees joined Saskatoon’s emergency response incident command team, a multi-agency partnership which assembled on July 21 to support the July 23 effort.
“Primary Health Care’s role was to provide medical care and do COVID-19 screening,” said Jennifer Hiebert, a director of clinical integration in Primary Health Care – Saskatoon.
First Nations and Métis Health Services staff provided support to the Indigenous residents to address their concerns and provide guidance as required.
Several registered nurses, a dietitian, two administrative assistants, two adult outreach workers, a PHC manager, as well as Deanne Kaar, also a director of clinical integration in Saskatoon, represented PHC on site from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. About five First Nations and Metis Health Services staff were on site as well throughout the day.
“Everybody got screened by the nurses and everyone was offered a COVID-19 test. By the end of the day, we did 45 COVID-19 tests and screened about 120 people,” said Kaar. All residents were pre-registered for a COVID-19 test the previous evening to ensure operations flowed smoothly on moving day.
The PHC health bus, staffed by a nurse practitioner and Emergency Medical Services personnel, was on site to support residents’ health care needs.
“Our staff focused on guiding them through their concerns, and brought them to the appropriate resources that were available on site, including our Elders,” explained Yvonne Tessier, Director of First Nations and Métis Health Services for SHA. “Our Elders then provided cultural or spiritual care for the residents, and did some smudging, if it was needed.”
Cultural Systems Advisor Andre Letendre led a virtual talking circle after the event, which provided prayers and guidance for staff members who needed to debrief in a safe and accepting environment.
Hiebert and Kaar want to thank their staff for pulling together to support the emergency response.
“Our staff really put the client first in making sure they were safe,” said Kaar. “Our staff were kind, patient and responsive to the clients’ needs. They were collaborative, working well together and also as part of a larger community team. I’m really proud of them.”
Hiebert echoed Kaar’s remarks and applauded the team’s ability to adapt. “This is a test we didn’t do six months ago. Our staff figured out how to do this process on site. We asked them to work in a difficult situation, using different processes for most of them. They showed their resilience and adaptability.”