Overview of the Inner City Public Health Project
In September of 2003, the Capital Region Public Health Division opened an office in the lower level of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre in the heart of Edmonton’s inner city. The Public Health Office (PHO) was staffed with a fulltime Public Health Manager, a full-time Community Health Representative (CHR), and three STD Nurse Specialists who provided a total of .4 FTE of service. Clients were able to drop into this office at any time. However, there were no scheduled office hours and staff were not always available. Most clients were seen through outreach clinics that were hosted at community agencies, shelters, and drop-in centres. The Community Health Representative played a central role in building partnerships with external agencies, locating clients needed for follow-up and building trusting relationships with potential or current clients in order to support and encourage them in accessing health services. The CHR was responsible for approaching various agencies throughout the year to inform them of the services the public health team could provide and arranged times and space to set up the outreach clinics. Besides providing support to the nursing team and to individuals in the community, the CHR facilitated a weekly Women’s Health Group and the Hepatitis C Peer Support Meetings at the Bissell Centre and occasionally worked on the Streetworks van assisting with needle exchange in the evenings. These strategies aimed to create a greater public health presence in the inner city and to establish a familiar and trusted individual within the community. Ideally this networking potential would lead to improved prevention efforts, harm reduction strategies, and follow-up with populations that have been historically hard to reach and difficult to track or engage.
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