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Home » News » Health-care system prepares to welcome Ukrainian refugees

Health-care system prepares to welcome Ukrainian refugees

By Luba Bereza
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Monday, April 25, 2022

Manitoba is known for having a large population of people of Ukrainian descent. So it only makes sense that our province is so willing to welcome people fleeing the war in Ukraine over the coming weeks and months. It's not yet known how many people will be arriving in our province, and how many will settle in Winnipeg, but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health are working with the Manitoba government and the Department of Families to prepare for their arrival. There is a lot of work happening to ensure that when those people arrive, they have access to all of the services they need, including health care.

We've all seen the news stories of people collecting donations of clothing and other household items to help Ukrainian families when they arrive here. But not everyone may think about their need for health care. It could be the need to have a prescription refilled, or a having a doctor help manage an ongoing health concern, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or even access to Cancer Care. Many may need the support of mental health services, especially for those who have seen first-hand the devastating effects of the invasion of Ukraine. The WRHA and Shared Health is are working to ensure all of that can happen in a timely manner.

The provincial Ukrainian Refugee Task Force is working with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and other organizations to provide supports when people arrive. A reception centre near the airport has been opened to help Ukrainian refugees when they arrive in Winnipeg. For more information on the reception centre's location and hours, please call Manitoba Government Inquiry at 204-945-3744 or 1-866-MANITOBA (1-866-626-4862). From a health care perspective, public health nurses will be on site at the reception centre to help triage and refer people to appropriate programs. 

The WRHA and Shared Heath have also created a list of resources that can be accessed immediately for anyone coming from Ukraine. The list will be shared with settlement partners and health care providers across Winnipeg. The resources include primary care access at any of the Walk-In Connected Care Clinics in Winnipeg. Care at those clinics is provided by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered nurses, and they can help connect people to other services they may need for any health issues that arise. Settlement workers are asked to call before they head to any of these clinics to ensure staff has time to see them that day. A list of the Walk-In Connected Care Clinics can be found here: https://wrha.mb.ca/locations-services/walk-in-connected-care/.

We also want to make sure people have access to the numerous mental health and addictions supports available - which include both crisis and non-crisis services. The Klinic Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 day a week, as well as the Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line, and the Sexual Assault Crisis Line. There is also the 24/7 Mobile Crisis service, which can respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis, as well as the Mental Health Crisis Response Centre, which is a walk-in centre open 24/7.  The Link (formerly Macdonald Youth Services) also has a Youth Mobile Crisis Team & 24-hour Provincial Crisis Line.

The Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine (RAAM) Clinic is also available to people arriving from Ukraine. It is an easy to access walk-in clinic that people can visit to get help for substance use and addiction issues without an appointment or formal referral.  People arriving from Ukraine can also have access to Street Connections, if needed. It is a mobile van service run by WRHA Public Health that provides various nursing services and supports including STI testing, some immunizations, as well as clean injection supplies.

To help people coming from Ukraine feel comfortable when accessing services, it is important they can speak to their health care provider in their own language. That's why the WRHA offers interpreter services. WRHA Language Access employs trained, accredited interpreters who provide services in many languages. This reduces risks associated with language barriers and enhances patient safety, accessibility and equity. WRHA Interpreter Services are available 24/7 face-to-face or remotely (video conference, conference call).

The WRHA and all of the other agencies involved in coordinating these efforts are doing everything we can to ensure Ukrainian refugees are welcomed into our community with open arms, and that they have all of the supports the need to ensure a successful settlement.

The full list of health resources available for Ukrainian refugees can be found at https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/ukrainian-resources-eng.pdf. It is also available in other languages including Ukrainian.

Luba Bereza is the Community Area Director for Seven Oaks/Inkster with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

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