Klinic nurse specializes in wrap-around care
By Mike Daly
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Monday, May 11, 2020
It would be easy to chalk up Molly Brett's enthusiasm for Klinic Community Health to the last six years she has spent working there as a practical care nurse. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that her association with the landmark Portage Avenue community health clinic is more than an accident of employment.
"I accessed Klinic services as a teenager, that's what kind of got me in the door, but once I learned about the variety of services and what the agency was as a whole, that's what hooked me in. I starting volunteering with Klinic when I was 18, first at the Teen Clinic, and then with the sexual assault crisis program as a volunteer counselor," Brett says. "'I worked at the front desk, and as a medical assistant when I was in nursing school, so I've been around here for a while."
With an ethos firmly rooted in the principles of social justice, Klinic provides a wide range of health-related services, from medical care to counseling and education. It serves a wide swath of Winnipeg's downtown, serving clients of every age, ethnicity, gender identity, and socio-economic circumstance.
Services are provided by a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, primary care nurses, social workers, dietitians, medical assistants and community workers.
"Our goal is to work together to provide clients with wrap-around care," Brett says. Primary care, like Klinic provides, is focused on "more of a prevention and education lens than an acute care perspective."
It's a holistic approach to care that she says "meets clients where they're at," with a no-judgment care model that works to address not only a client's medical needs, but also the various social factors that impact their care and well-being.
"For instance, we may have a client with minor health care needs, but their biggest challenge may be that they have unstable housing. Or they might say might say, ‘I need help managing my high blood pressure, but I don't have money to buy myself food.' Some of those social issues can play a large role in their health. Our team works together to help them address those challenges so that we can better meet their health care needs. Looking at a person and their circumstances as a whole is our ultimate goal."
Brett notes that working at a community health clinic offers her something that nurses working in acute care facilities often lack: the ability to develop an ongoing relationship with clients.
"When you work in a facility where you seeing a patient for an acute concern, that person is going to move on and you don't always have the ability to follow their care for an extended period of time. The luxury of being attached to somebody's primary health care (in a community clinic) is that I get to follow that person, and I get to see what's going on. A week from now, I can call them and check in and say, ‘Hey, when we were talking about this last week, I tried to get you hooked up with a social worker and they were going to call you. Did that happen? Are we still concerned about what's going on? Did you feel your needs were met, or is there something more we can do?' We have the ability to follow people through that process."
Ordinarily, Brett is also able to offer her patients access to a number of Klinic's ongoing services, including crisis support, in-person counseling, and support groups. These include the facility's Life in Balance Program, which promotes emotional and physical wellness through a variety of activities that include meditation as well as sleep, nutrition and coping strategies. Many of these and other Klinic programs - such as auricular acupuncture (useful as a complementary treatment for people struggling with addictions, anxiety, chronic pain and trauma-related symptoms), mindfulness based stress reduction, mindful self-compassion, and yoga - have been temporarily suspended as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 .
“However, all of Klinic’s counseling services remain open, which includes our crisis lines and ‘drop-in’ counseling, which is now being completed over the phone,” Brett says. “Klinic’s doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses are also still in office working, trying to provide as much care as we can over the phone, with the ability to see folks in the office as needed.”
With respect to the pandemic, Brett says that while Klinic is not directly engaged in COVID-19 testing or treatment, clients are expressing some concern.
"We definitely have had folks calling in with questions," she says. "We're referring testing-specific questions to Health Links - Info Santé, and are doing our best to help reduce client anxiety. We understand that anxiety, because we're feeling it, too. We're all in this together."
Mike Daly is a Communications Specialist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.