October 9, 2020

By Katherine Houser, Horizon Community Developer for the Upper River Valley area from Nackawic to Beechwood.

Food has the power to bring people together. Enjoying a nutritious meal with family and friends can leave you feeling good mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

It gives you a chance to relax and enjoy quality time with loved ones, unwind after a long day, share countless stories, and lots of laughter – leaving you with a full heart and full belly.

Cooking and preparing meals at home with friends and family is a great way to connect and learn new skills. You can experiment in the kitchen and try new foods as a family and learn what recipes you all enjoy and will actually eat.

In 2019, the Food Security Committee from the Western Valley Wellness Network and Upper River Valley Community Food Smart programs in the area (local bulk-buying clubs for fruit and vegetable bags) conducted a survey to identify barriers and limitations that prevent people from preparing nutritious meals at home.

They had 79 people from Woodstock, Florenceville-Bristol, Perth-Andover, and Tobique First Nation respond to the survey, who said 45 per cent of the time they changed a recipe or did not make it at all because they did not have the required kitchen equipment. Sometimes, this was something as simple as a frying pan or cookie sheet.

In an effort to reduce this barrier and better support those wanting to cook and prepare more meals at home, the group proposed the idea of a kitchen equipment lending library, similar to the model libraries use.

The idea is simple – those interested would become a member of the kitchen equipment lending library, ‘take out’ a piece of equipment for a designated time, be offered formal instructions on how to use the equipment (along with safety instructions when needed), and return the piece of equipment by a set date in the same condition it was first loaned.

A $1,000, Community Innovation Grant (COIN-G) from Horizon Health Network was received to help purchase kitchen equipment and shelving. The shelving is to store the equipment and showcase items that are available for lending. Donations of kitchen equipment from community members are also being accepted.

COIN-G is a grant program for application by community stakeholders in partnership with Horizon to fund initiatives or projects within local communities. This grant supports projects related to population health that focus on the social determinants of health, and where possible, respond to the priorities determined through the Community Health Needs Assessments.

This allows community members to test out appliances that may be new to them and see if it eases meal preparation in their household before investing in a kitchen appliance that could end up collecting dust on the shelf.

This also works well during the harvesting season for larger items that aren’t typically used year-round, such as: large stock pots or roasting pans for corn boils and large family gatherings.

The COIN-G funding enabled the idea come to life through a partnership with Tobique’s Food Pantry and Tobique First Nation Health Centre. The Kitchen Equipment Lending Library is now open to the Neqotkuk (Tobique) First Nation community!

The program is housed at Tobique’s Food Pantry, and other partners include Horizon Health Network, Western Valley Wellness Network’s Food Security Committee and Community Food Smart programs in the area.

These organizations are working with Tobique’s Food Pantry and the Tobique First Nation Health Centre to track the program’s progress, access funds to support upkeep of the program, and coordinate volunteers to assit with the program as needed.

A launch lunch featuring homemade chilli and rolls will be held  Nov. 12 to help engage and inform the community about the new program. Public Health COVID-19 guidelines will be followed and community members will receive their lunch to-go with an information pamphlet on the program.

As the first Kitchen Equipment Lending Library in the Upper River Valley region, we look forward to seeing how the program progresses and hearing feedback from community on what worked and what could be done differently.

We hope to see the program expand to other communities in our region if it is successful! Bon appétit!

Katherine Houser

Katherine Houser has been a community developer with Horizon since 2018. She currently serves the Upper River Valley area, covering from Nackawic to Beechwood. She is working towards completing her Masters in Applied Health Services Research through Saint Mary’s University. Her free time is often spent outdoors or on the volleyball court.

Katherine is passionate about taking a holistic approach to health and empowering others to create sustainable change. She strongly believes in the importance of building strong, meaningful relationships with community members. Katherine strives to bring people together and help provide structure for her community’s passions.

She is always up for a cup of coffee and conversation  – if you have any ideas for new partnerships or community projects, don’t hesitate to reach out to her at katherine.houser@HorizonNB.ca

September 11, 2020 – Self-referrals are how community health centres ensure people have access to sexual health services.

Chad Daigle, manager of Horizon’s Hartland Health Centre (HHC), said people in the area may not be aware, but they can self-refer themselves to the nurse practitioner – whether they are a client of the health centre or not.

“Sexual health services are one of the only services we provide for any person who is not a patient of our centre,” Chad said.

Crystal Broad, nurse practitioner at the health centre, said sexual health services are available to adolescents and adults of all ages and genders and are addressed as quickly as possible.

“We perform Pap smear tests, breast exams, sexually transmitted infection testing, with treatment when required, and provide contraception counselling. We offer prescribing and insertion of IUD (intrauterine device) also,” Crystal said.

Chad said a woman had expressed she was concerned to have her male physician conduct a pap test.

“I told her that the Hartland Health Centre provides this service if she would like to meet with a female nurse practitioner,” he said. “She did follow-up with me that she had scheduled an appointment and found it very beneficial.”

Crystal said when she does a Pap, she can copy the patient’s primary care provider on the results.

“This way, the provider is aware. Sometimes providers refer their patients to me specifically for anything related to a patient’s sexual health,” she said.

Crystal said self-referrals allow for more timely care and better accessibility to services when needed.

“We don’t offer walk ins, but we see people quickly,” Crystal said. “This is important because it can be stressful for someone if they are concerned they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).”

Crystal said the self-referral process lets people take their sexual health into their own hands and helps prevent the spread of infection.

“Sometimes, we’ll have a call from someone who just wants to ensure they are free of STIs, and sometimes women just want to have a pap done by a female,” Crystal said. “And of course, all encounters are completely confidential… always.”

Chad said in the sexual health services are provided out of Horizon’s Hartland Health Centre as well as Horizon’s Tobique Valley Community Health Centre (TVCHC) in Plaster Rock.

Sexual health services are available through many of Horizon’s community health centres and clinics, and there is no referral needed. Talk to your health care provider or call your local health centre for more information.

Anyone in the Hartland area who’s interested in sexual health services can call the HHC at 506-375-2700, and anyone in the Plaster Rock area can call the TVCHC at 506-356-6600.

While walk-ins are not accepted, appointments are available on short notice.

Crystal Broad joined Horizon in 2010. She graduated from the Fredericton University of New Brunswick (UNB) School of Nursing in 2001. She credits the Bath Hospital nursing staff for inspiring her and showing her how to truly care for patients.

Following stints in Presque Isle, Maine as a Registered Nurse as first assistant in surgery, and serving as an operating room (OR) manager, Crystal returned to Carleton County to work at Horizon’s Upper River Valley Hospital in the OR as a surgical assistant. At the same time, she completed her Masters in Nurse Practitioner (NP) at UNB Fredericton.

For the last 10 years, she’s worked as an NP at Horizon’s Tobique Valley Community Health Centre, in Plaster Rock, and now works at Horizon’s Hartland Health Centre, servicing the health care needs of her community.

She is passionate about primary health care and providing sexual health services to the community.

September 3, 2020 – At Horizon’s Tobique Valley Community Health Centre (TVCHC), there is a food purchasing program that is providing clients with more than just food security.

The Community Food Purchasing Group is a program run out of the health centre. Health centre clients, or any community member can pay $10 at the beginning of the month and receive a basket of fresh fruit and vegetables at the end of the month.

Danny Braun, community developer for the Plaster Rock and Perth-Andover areas, said items for the baskets are purchased at the Plaster Rock Independent grocery store.

“We utilize the buying power of the group to purchase at wholesale prices from the local supermarket,” Danny said. “Each month we include a variety of fruit and vegetables – a typical order can include broccoli, carrots, bagged salad, cucumber, potatoes, bananas, apples and oranges.”

Denise McClure, social worker at TVCHC, referred one of her clients to the food program who saw huge benefits.

“After meeting with this particular client and learning of her financial circumstances, I asked Danny for food on my client’s behalf. Danny was happy to help,” Denise said.

Denise said the client and her partner lost employment due to chronic injuries.

“She came to me for help navigating the medical system and seeking resources for themselves and their young children,” she said.

Denise said this client told her how the food program changed her life.

“Physically and mentally, this food is helpful because the money I would have spent on these grocery items I can now put toward catching up with my NB Power bill,” the client told Denise. “I’m so glad I found Tobique Valley Community Health Centre: it’s changed my life.”

Denise said this client has not only benefitted from the food program, but for the services provided by herself, and other members of the health care team from TVCHC including Nurse Practitioner Cindy McCarthy, and Physiotherapist Todd Adams.

“She said she’s been struggling to navigate the system and get the help that we are now providing,” Denise said. “She feels her persistence and optimism are finally being rewarded.”

Denise said in her experience as a social worker, these kinds of circumstances are all too common. It seems those who are accustomed to working hard and helping others have the most difficulty asking for help when they are in need.

“Programs such as Community Food Purchasing Group provide a simple solution to an acute problem; otherwise, the problem becomes chronic and more complex programs are needed,” Denise said. “I firmly believe that, with a little help and support, my client and her partner will be back on their feet shortly.”

The Community Food Purchasing Group is one way staff at Horizon community health centres show their commitment to the health of their clients and communities.

Denise McClure graduated from St. Thomas University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Social Work. She completed internships with Vitalité’s Grand Falls General Hospital and York Manor in Fredericton.

Before attending university, she enjoyed several years of working with students at a local school on a casual basis. As a social worker, she met clients in their homes in various parts of northern New Brunswick as a Needs Assessor and a Rehabilitation Counsellor. She joined the Horizon team at the Tobique Valley Community Health Centre in Plaster Rock in 2014.

Denise says helping people meet their needs and become empowered has always been, and continues to be, gratifying and close to her heart.