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A LEADING FORCE FOR CHANGE

- Health Unit Recognizes Role of its Nursing Staff to Drive Social Changes and Ensure Better Care for Local Communities -

Public Health Nurses in the community are being recognized for their work – both the very visible roles and behind-the-scene duties they carry out – to support the health of local residents.

During National Nursing Week from May 6 to 12, the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit is recognizing the contribution of its approximately 45 Registered Nurses in supporting the well-being of residents in Haliburton County, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County.

“Public Health Nurses have been a leading force for change over the years, serving residents of all ages with skill, knowledge, caring and commitment,” says Fiona Kelly, the Chief Nursing Officer with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Nurses with the Health Unit play a very important role in our community by helping local residents stay healthy and safe. However, Health Unit nurses also do much more by lobbying for social and policy changes, while working with partner agencies to ensure programs and services are in place to support healthy living in our communities.”

She notes that while Health Unit nurses are less numerous and visible than their counterparts in hospitals and long-term care facilities, their roles and responsibilities are just as important. “Whether working in schools, homes, clinics and other places in the community, Public Health Nurses help to promote health, as well as prevent illness and disease,” Kelly says.

This is obvious in the work done by Health Unit nurses to: immunize children and adults; promote the benefits of healthy living; provide prenatal classes and resources to expectant parents; help new mothers adjust to life with a newborn; give advice to families to support the healthy development of children; investigate cases of infectious diseases; work to control outbreaks; and run sexual health clinics providing confidential counseling, treatment and testing for sexually-transmitted infections.

Less evident, according to Kelly, is the work Health Unit nurses do to drive social change and policy development that support healthy living. “For example, while nurses offer prenatal classes and do home visits with new moms, they are also giving advice and advocating for ways to improve the system so that it is more supportive and better addresses the needs of families,” she adds.

Kelly also points to the considerable work that Public Health Nurses have done in recent years to address and raise awareness about the ‘social determinants of health’ – social factors such as income, education, employment, housing, child care and access to health care that affect a person’s health and quality of life. Says Kelly: “The work of Public Health Nurses has really shifted. It’s no longer just curing what ails their clients, but also identifying and preventing problems before they adversely affect people’s health.”

To find out more about the work of Public Health Nurses, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Fiona Kelly, Chief Nursing Officer, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569 or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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