RHAs community outreach teams collaborate to support shelter clients
(Vitalité / Horizon) Tuesday, April 11, 2023 – Outreach programs are being expanded to help shelter clients in Moncton and Saint John, thanks to collaboration from Vitalité and Horizon health networks.
In Moncton, Vitalité’s Public Health and Addiction Mental Health services, Horizon’s Primary Health Care team, and the Salvus Clinic are coordinating their efforts to improve care for clients at shelters.
Andrew Raven, Peer Navigator, Salvus Clinic; Natasha Landry, Social Worker, Addictions and Mental Health, Vitalité; Amoreena Ashe, Nurse, Salvus Clinic; France Maillet-Gagnon, Nurse Practitioner, Salvus Clinic; Annette Taylor, Nurse Practitioner, Salvus Clinic; and Damon Sebastians, Social Worker, Addiction and Mental Health, Horizon
A collaborative and multidisciplinary outreach team is visiting and holding on-site clinics at the region’s four shelters: House of Nazareth, Harvest House, The Humanity Project (Out of the Cold) shelter and Mark Avenue shelter.
Team members are providing primary health care, addictions and mental health services and providing other care including vaccinations and education on communicable diseases.
Christopher West, Primary Health Nurse and Chantal Légère, Manager of Community Mental Health, Vitalité Health Network.
A team from Vitalité’s Adult Mental Health and Addiction Services has been established to assist in the efforts in the community which includes an increased presence in the shelters. The team provides support to individuals with complex needs and ensure access to community-based mental health services is facilitated.
"We must adjust our traditional ways and meet people where they are", said Chantal Légère, Manager of Community Mental Health. "This initiative is a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot to learn, now it’s time for us to listen to our clients. They need to know that we care, and that there is hope."
Malcolm Leaman, Public Health Manager and Theresa Theriault, Public Health Nurse, Vitalité Health Network.
Vitalité has also hired a social worker and is in the process of recruiting a community worker and a peer support worker to the team.
The Salvus Clinic, a not-for-profit organization who partners with Horizon’s primary health care program, has been providing outreach services to two shelters in Moncton for the past three years. Thanks to the contribution of funding from Medavie Health Foundation, the Saint John Human Development Council, and private donors, Salvus was able to purchase a mobile health unit. With funding from Health Canada, Salvus was able to hire additional staff who have been providing outreach services out of the mobile unit for the past six months
Each week, Salvus Clinic staff which include a Nurse Practitioner, Social Worker, Peer Health Navigator, and a Registered Nurse, arrive at the shelters and work collaboratively to identify and treat individuals overrepresented in the homeless population. Services include wound care, opioid replacement therapy, chronic disease management, peer support services and mental health support.
“Horizon is proud to be part of this initiative and continue our work with the Salvus Clinic,” said Kathleen Buchanan, Primary Health Care Manager, Moncton area. “By expanding our outreach programs to meet people where they are, we are able to provide better care and services and ensure they’re getting the care they need.”
“Salvus is so thankful to have contributing partners who value treating the whole person and meeting people where they are at,” said Melissa Baxter, Executive Director, Salvus Clinic, “Without the support of our partners such as Horizon Health Network, we would not be where we are today.”
Two new positions were created by Horizon within their Addiction and Mental Health team to support this work – a social worker (filled) and a licensed practical nurse (LPN.)
Horizon is currently recruiting two new positions within their Addiction and Mental Health team to support this work — a social worker and a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
The social worker will help clients connect to and navigate needed addictions and mental health services and will work collaboratively with other health partners to ensure good health outcomes.
A shared schedule allows these teams to address a wide range of needs.
"There was a cry for help received from our community and representatives from all sectors have joined in the effort to create a collaborative initiative," said Légère. "It has been an insightful experience to work directly with the community organisations and colleagues from different sectors to come together to create a unified approach."
In the Saint John area, a new LPN will work with an existing Registered Nurse (RN) to build on the current outreach programs in place. Currently, an RN works with clients to help connect them with services. Adding an LPN will allow the team to help more people and expand on the services they provide.
“Throughout the course of my 46-year career, I've had the opportunity to work as a nurse in many different departments. But 22 years ago, I found my passion working in Addiction and Mental Health,” said RN Judy Lenihan, who works as a Community Navigator for Mobile Mental Health in Saint John.
“I’ve had many jobs in mental health, but helping people in the community is the most rewarding kind of work.”
The Department of Health provided funding for permanent full-time positions within Addiction and Mental Health services as well as Primary Health Care (Salvus Clinic) within the regional health authorities. These positions are part of the in-reach/out-reach services to be provided within the shelters as well as the communities.
The Department of Health has also facilitated the purchase and distribution of naloxone kits within shelters as well as the overdose prevention site in the region.
Access to addiction and mental health services is one of five action areas in the provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.
Improving access to health care, such as addiction and mental health services, is a key priority of Horizon’s plan to ensure all New Brunswickers receive the safe, high-quality and timely care they need.
Strengthening community-based interventions and facilitating access to mental health and addiction services contribute to improving patient experience, one of the three major orientations adopted by Vitalité Health Network.