COVID-19 has challenged many aspects of our personal and work lives across the provinces. It is a global challenge that demands researchers, policy makers, and governments to address multiple dimensions which go far beyond the implications of this pandemic for health and wellbeing.
The determinants of health as it relates to the most vulnerable groups of people such as older persons, persons living in long term care facilities, indigenous communities of the north are all experiencing compounded predicaments during this pandemic! However, we are guided by a trauma-informed care approach and awareness of the intergeneration trauma effects for Indigenous peoples and communities. NPs working in outpatient settings must contend with evolving population mental health problems. This situation is more serious in Indigenous communities. Furthermore, telepsychiatry has emerged as one means to deliver care within the context of a pandemic, and NPs working in community settings may have to evolve their practice in accordance with changing technology.
At the same time, NPs and all nurses are expected to provide culturally competent and culturally safe care in Canada, it is imperative that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action for health are addressed. NPs are the gatekeepers in many northern indigenous communities (nursing stations/health centres) which impacts partially whether the patient gets culturally safe nursing care as per the new CNA Code of Ethics. Reorientation of health facilities to deal with COVID-19 in already overstretched and underfunded health systems has reduced capacity to manage existing disease burdens; cessation of routine surgeries, health checks, and immunization programs might produce outbreaks of preventable communicable diseases, rising cancer rates, and increasing numbers of late-stage complex medical conditions.
The pandemic lockdowns and reorganization of health systems has redefined values the role NPs play in the communities. To highlight the province of Manitoba, the Ministry of Health references how NPs can be utilized in LTCH settings. The current northern nursing challenges include variable and/or no accessibility to the internet and telehealth. The pandemic offers NPs greater opportunity for utilization to its intended maximum role capacity to make a difference in peoples’ lives.
Angela Spence-Bedard, RN MN NP CDE
Communications Director NPAC-AIIPC