Community outreach isn’t a one-way street. Saskatchewan Health Authority is working with partners to break down barriers and build trust with newcomer communities who need support in accessing health services. The approach is having success and is bridging the gap culturally and linguistically.
In Regina, a partnership with the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) and the Regina Immigrant Women Centre (RIWC), amongst others, leverages ties to the community to reach out to immigrant and refugee residents and help put them at ease with accessing health services and in getting vaccinated.
“Community organizations servicing newcomer and immigrant populations have an established relationship with clients and their families built on trust, safety, care, accommodation and inclusion,” said Ritu Kalra, Coordinator of Community programs at the RIWC, “which has proved extremely helpful in this case.”
“By coordinating these clinics directly through the community organizations who serve these groups, not only can they more easily access vaccine in a timely way, it has made a huge difference in reducing vaccine hesitancy in these populations,” said Shain Thakrar, vaccine team physician co-lead.
On May 11, the SHA held a clinic in partnership with both RODS and the RIWC. These partners not only provided unpaid volunteers who were known to their clients to translate and explain the immunization process, they even called them to book the appointments and arranged transportation to the clinic when needed. The clinic vaccinated 242 people, including some of the volunteers.
“The clinic has helped to reduce and in some cases eliminate hesitancy about the vaccine, as well as addressing barriers faced by newcomers such as transportation and language,” said Oudalay Senevonghachak of RODS. “This successful partnership resulted in growing trust in medical outcomes through collaboration and respect within the community. Thank you for hearing the needs of the newcomers and responding to those needs in a timely manner.”
Victoria Flores (left) and Roberto Misterio, staff members with the Regina Open Door Society, got vaccinated at the clinic.
This clinic was so successful and the partnership so appreciated by the organizations and their clients, more clinics based on these partnerships are already being planned.
“I am so thankful for RIWC who gives me and my husband the opportunity to get a quick vaccine appointment,” said Hanane Boutoutane, who was vaccinated at the clinic in Regina. “And glad to have a community clinic for vaccination so all people, especially immigrants, get the chance to get the vaccine, thank you!”