Street nurse’s focus changing

Red Deer’s street nurse program has evolved to help homeless clients better manage chronic disease like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Nurse Practitioner Marlee MacDonald

Nurse Practitioner Marlee MacDonald

Red Deer’s street nurse program has evolved to help homeless clients better manage chronic disease like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Nurse practitioner Marlee MacDonald said wound care, like abrasions or abscesses, is still the No. 1 reason why people visit the clinic that runs in the Turning Point building at 4611 50th Ave.

“A lot of these folks walk and walk and walk all day. It’s hard on their feet and it’s hard on their skin to be outside,” MacDonald said.

But now clients have the opportunity to look at improving their overall health by managing chronic disease.

“It’s opening that door and establishing a relationship so that hopefully we can encourage them to look further at health promotion.”

Red Deer Primary Care Network has funded the street nurse program since September 2008 to improve health-care access for people who may be homeless, dealing with drug addictions or mental health issues, and have difficulty getting the services they need.

Central Albert AIDS Network Society is providing the clinic space and Alberta Health Services supplies the medical supplies and equipment.

MacDonald treats patients in consultation with network physicians and she can perform physical exams, order diagnostics, prescribe some medication, make referrals and can provide a limited amount of over-the-counter medication.

She can also help patients navigate through the health-care system to get other needed services.

Visits to the street nurse about increased to about 36 per week. People come because there are no barriers to access, McDonald said.

“A lot of them have experienced long waits at the emergency because a lot of their concerns are not urgent care. Whether it may be a mental health issue or addictions, they’re just not likely to sit and wait that long.”

MacDonald wants to reach out to more women. Statistics show males are twice as likely to visit the clinic.

“It’s the direct opposite of mainstream health care. At this point, we haven’t identified truly what some of the barriers might be. I think there certainly is a great need.”

The average client is now in their mid-30s, about 10 years younger than those who used the clinic last summer.

About three times a year the clinic offers a “tune-up” so clients can see MacDonald, get a hot lunch, a hair cut, access foot care, see the public health nurse for immunization and representatives from other community agencies, and get supplies like sunscreen in the summer and mitts in the winter.

“The turnout is always really good,” MacDonald said.

Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, executive director for the Central Alberta AIDS Network Society, which is also located at Turning Point, said the street nurse has had a positive impact on the health of people in need.

The primary care network street nurse program is a good fit with CAANS, she said.

“Because she can test for HIV, that’s huge for us. When people call us, we can tell them about this additional option. It certainly makes sense to have someone who can test right on site,” Vanderschaeghe said.

Regular clinic hours for the street nurse are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit
Two central Albertans charged with child porn

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation unit arrests 24 suspects

A child writes in their school notebook during a home schooling session in Cremona, Alta., Monday, March 23, 2020, amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of students in Calgary will shift to online learning as of today in a bid to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates in the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those 40 or older

Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those 40 or older

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
A CN rail worker stands on an idle locomotive as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CN makes rival bid to CP Rail’s offer to buy U.S. railway Kansas City Southern

Offer tops proposal made last month by Canadian Pacific Railway

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The controversial Super League is materializing after Madrid and 11 other clubs announced its creation on Sunday. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
Super League a ‘longtime dream’ for Madrid president Pérez

League created because coronavirus pandemic left clubs in a dire financial situation

San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau (12) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, in San Jose, Calif., Monday, March 29, 2021. Marleau is skating in his 1,757th game. Only one other player in NHL history has hit that mark. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Tony Avelar
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s record for most NHL games played

Marleau was set to suit up for the 1,768th time Monday

FILE - In this Saturday April 17, 2021 file photo, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II follows the coffin in a car as it makes it’s way past the Round Tower during the funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip inside Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. Now that the Royal Family has said farewell to Prince Philip, attention will turn to Queen Elizabeth II’s 95th birthday on Wednesday, April 21 and, in coming months, the celebrations marking her 70 years on the throne. This combination of events is reminding the United Kingdom that the reign of the queen, the only monarch most of her subjects have ever known, is finite. (Leon Neal/Pool via AP, file)
Queen enters ‘twilight’ of reign after farewell to Philip

Charles’ increased role began gradually

This combination photo shows Oscar nominees for best actress, from left, Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Andra Day in “The United States vs Billie Holiday,” Vanessa Kirby in “Pieces of a Woman,” Frances McDormand in “Nomadland and Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman.” (Netflix, from left, Hulu, Netflix, Searchlight Pictures, Focus Features via AP)
Oscar predictions: Can anything beat ‘Nomadland’?

Best actress race is perhaps the biggest wild card

Letters
Letter: Restrictions have nothing to do with religion

Many have framed the closure of GraceLife Church near Edmonton by Alberta… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Thanking volunteers in Red Deer

National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24. At the Canadian Cancer… Continue reading

Letter to the editor
Letter: Good on MLAs for speaking out

This is a letter in regard to MLAs not standing united behind… Continue reading

Most Read