Nancy McPherson RN BScN MSc
Nancy has been nursing for 40 years in various capacities including northern/remote, rural and urban settings. She also has experience with international health having worked in the West Indies and co-led health reform post-perestroika in north eastern Siberia.
Nancy is a Population Health Planner Analyst with Prairie Mountain Health and an Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing at Brandon University. She is passionate about social justice and public policy to address health inequities experienced by under-served populations.
Nancy McPherson spoke with us while wearing several hats including population health analyst, associate professor at Brandon University, board member, community volunteer and advocate for underserved populations. Her official role in the Redwood Project was as a community volunteer. The Redwood Project was a group effort of several community groups including the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and Community Advisory Board and they provided a safe place for unhoused people to self-isolate in case of potential COVID-19 infection.
There wasn’t much time to plan and an urgent need so with incredible support from colleagues, local Hutterite communities, local businesses, Brandon University, and friends, they arranged for funding, staffing, food, laundry, personal hygiene supplies, COVID-19 supplies and equipment and transportation in time to open on March 30 with 15 units at the Redwood Motel. They were thrilled that at one of Prime Minister Trudeau’s regular press conferences he pointed out the Redwood Project as an example of an effective community-based response.
Although the Redwood Project was intended as a place for individuals to self-isolate while not putting others at risk, not having a home was almost never the only issue. Guests often had complex medical needs that volunteers were unable to manage. Things like mental illness, addictions, chronic and sometimes uncontrolled conditions, a history of trauma, and some required episodic nursing care like urinary catheter maintenance and dressing changes. Nancy described how difficult it is for individuals with complex medical needs to access care in a mixture of various health, housing and social community systems and services.
The Redwood Project also provided an opportunity for the guests to be connected to local community programs and receive help with the paperwork involved in the maze of federal, provincial and local programs. As a result, every single guest left the Redwood with identification, a social insurance number and Manitoba Health coverage. 44% of guests were connected to permanent housing.
Next steps will include analysis of 160 pages of progress notes, a review of access criteria to community based programs and an evaluation report with recommendations to be discussed with senior leadership at Prairie Mountain Health, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and other community partners and potential funders.
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