Nurse Inez Louis has been engaging with people across the vast Sto:lo territory in need of crucial information to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Louis, who some across Canada may know as a two-time Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, has been concentrating on her other career as a community health nurse with the Sto:lo Service Agency in Chilliwack.
At first it was nightly, and then several times a week.
“There seemed to be a real need for it,” Louis said.
Tuning into the “SSA Health Updates” for some folks has created a real sense of community in the fear-filled early weeks of the pandemic.
Louis said she spent time myth-busting and trying to ease worried minds “by offering small, achievable steps” to get through.
She made a point of offering useful take-aways and key messages, based on regional reality and established science.
“Basically I started doing the live videos in response to all the questions and misinformation circulating on Facebook,” Louis said.
There was information overload out there, and not all of it was accurate.
But this was an opportunity for her to engage and have that info interpreted. She invited a host of guests such as Chilliwack General ER Dr. Marc Greidanus, as well as her uncle and aunt, Steven Point and Gwen Point.
All of the info and facts she shared were meticulously sourced from credible sources such as the First Nations Health Authority, BC Centre for Disease Control and Fraser Health, Louis said. And she took her lead from provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Louis feels fortunate to live and work in B.C., adding she’s thankful for a strong BCCDC, and the exemplary leadership shown by Dr. Bonnie Henry during the early outbreaks, and now during the phase 2 reopening.
“They are leading the pack,” Louis said. “Our role as community health nurses is to take that information and help clients decide what it means for them.”
She’s thankful to have great resources available, including culturally relevant ones for Indigenous communities.
There was also fear out there, but she was able to unite people across the territory in a safe space to address concerns.
Now the weekly live video has transitioned from a COVID-19 focus, to more about the current state of health programming, as they figure out how to serve Sto:lo communities across the Fraser Valley in the “new normal” that society is facing, according to Michael Suedfeld of the SSA.
“The information being presented now allows people to keep connected to our programs and staff even though we cannot do very much face-to-face work at the moment,” Suedfeld said.
They are looking ahead at how SSA services will look going forward in what is effectively a wholly changed society.
“From a co-worker standpoint, Inez has been amazing.
“Many of our staff have been active in creating videos for clients and reaching out to support them during the lockdown period. It’s a pretty inspirational group of people to work with.”
It’s all about about connecting with communities and making people feel connected to something.
Folks can tune in to find out how to navigate SSA services. How to see a doctor or a dentist and what to expect. There are rundowns on what’s available in terms of mental health counselling or how to access certain services with active social distancing.
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