ties for schools and community organizations to worktogether to develop strategies that support healthyeating, active living and positive social environments.
Our government also created the Safe Communities Initiative and has provided more than $50million over three years to create mental health andaddictions programs to provide earlier interventionand treatment for individuals who struggle withthese health issues.
Another important strategy is our Primary CareInitiative which helps physicians (and primary careteam members) to build their practices to managechronic diseases more proactively by using a team-based approach.
In order to reverse the trend of poor health andmake a lasting impact, we need a more collectiveand collaborative approach that involves everyone.
We must reach beyond what government alone
can do and seek meaningful partnerships to work
together on wellness strategies and actions.
While we are asking our province’s health profes-
sionals, business and community leaders to step up,
there are also opportunities for each of us as indi-
viduals to make our own commitments to wellness.
We can each make a commitment by askingourselves, what we can do differently that willimprove the way we, and our families, live, eat,work and play.
For tips and information on the wellness programs mentioned above, as well as others, pleasevisit our website at health.alberta.ca and click on thetab Health Information. Thank you for helping inwhatever way you are able!
Alberta Health & Wellness Minister GENE ZWOZDESKy
Serving the Community
The first line of defence for health in Gift Lake
In the absence of a hospital, ambulance or local doctor or nurse, the 1,200 people of the Gift Lake Metis Settlement in northeast Alberta turn to Connie and Jennifer Anderson for health advice.
As community health representatives withAlberta Health Services, Connie and Jennifer (whoare not related) are both the first line of offenceand defence for health in their community. Theirmain role is to promote health services and helplocal residents understand how they can preventinjury and illness. As the only health professionalswithin 85 kilometres, and two of only a handful ofcommunity health representatives in the province,they help their neighbours deal with almost anyhealth concern.
“It’s like we’re on call 24 hours a day,” Connie
says. “People assume we’re doctors, nurses and
paramedics … so anything related to health falls to
Jennifer and me.”
In the 16-plus years Connie and Jennifer have
worked as community health reps, only a few
serious emergencies have occurred, leaving them
plenty of time to organize special clinics, program
and information sessions for everything from post-
natal advice for new moms to telling families about
the benefits of immunization to letting kids know
the merits of wearing a helmet while riding a bike.
Connie and Jennifer, who were both born and
raised in Gift Lake, also bridge the gap between
the community and health care. For example, they
translate for elders who only speak Cree when a
community health nurse visits the settlement. And
they talk to people in confidence about addictions,
depression or pregnancy. Earlier this year, they
organized the community’s first pap smear clinic.
“I really love my job, especially working with the
elders and the babies,” Connie says. “We’re making
a difference and doing some good.”
Connie and Jennifer Anderson bridge the gap
between the community and health care.
reported by TErry BULLICK, AHS