By Nayo Upshaw
Nurse practitioner Heidi Fairbanks-Smith values the community connections she’s been able to establish.
“I like the social aspect and personal connections; I know a lot of people and they know me,” said Fairbanks-Smith, who works out of the River Hebert Primary Health Care clinic.
Every day is different for Fairbanks-Smith, an important member of her clinic’s collaborative health care team.
At the clinic, she sees patients throughout the week and works with physicians on patient care. She also works out of the youth health centre at River Hebert District High School.
Resources can vary when it comes to physicians, specialists and appointments available in rural areas, so the River Hebert Primary Health Care clinic team works hard to accommodate the needs of its community.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job,” Fairbanks-Smith said.
“For example,” she said, “we have a mental health peer support worker who lives in the community and they meet with clients and provide support when needed.”
When her schedule reaches full capacity, individuals go on the Need A Family Practice
“I see patients who are my patients, but I also keep spots open for the community as well,” Fairbanks-Smith explained.
“If there’s someone in the community that’s ill and they need to be seen for an urgent matter, I try to make room for them as best I can.”
Fairbanks-Smith also clears one day out of her work week schedule to make herself available to local high schools students at the youth health centre, which is offered in partnership with Public Health.
“I keep my noon hours open here at the clinic, so if a student needs something they can pop in,” she said. “It works really well and the students are very appreciative and use the service.”
“It’s like if they (the students) were going to their family doctor. A lot of them don’t have a family doctor and this is their only access to health care.”
Despite only having one other staff member at the River Hebert Primary Health clinic right now, Fairbanks-Smith said her connection with the community wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support system she has there.
“The secretary I work with is awesome and I think that’s the glue that holds everything together.”
Fairbanks-Smith continues to serve the community to the best of her ability.
“We have an incredible collaborative effort; we’re meeting the community needs and utilizing all the resources we have."