Yukoners support Haitian health care

Yukon nurse Kate Bradshaw is grateful for the many ways her life has been blessed, and wants to give something back.

Yukon nurse Kate Bradshaw is grateful for the many ways her life has been blessed, and wants to give something back.

“I feel like I won the life lottery being born in Canada, you know – born to two parents that love me and wanted the best for me and were able to provide for me.”

This April, Bradshaw will join seven other nurses, three doctors and three support staff on a volunteer mission to a rural Haitian village to assist health-care providers there with their work.

“Living in Canada, especially in the North, I guess I feel like that we have so much to offer and we’re in such a position of being able to do that,” said Bradshaw.

The 14-person team will volunteer their time and expertise through Haiti Village Health, a non-profit organization that supports public health in the Bas Limbe region in northern Haiti. They are currently fundraising to bring medical supplies with them.

The potential for international work was part of the reason Bradshaw got into nursing, she said.

“I always was interested in giving back in that way.”

This opportunity is a perfect fit, she said.

For the past two years, she has been working as a public health care nurse in Yukon’s communities, as well as working in the emergency room. Her job has taken her to Ross River, Faro, Pelly Crossing, Haines Junction, Beaver Creek and Teslin.

“The clinics in the communities are run by the nurses. You’re meeting everybody’s needs from a chronic care program to a public health program to acute injury type stuff. It’s a crazy job. Lots of props to those people, the nurses that do it all the time.

“I wanted to spend more time in the communities getting to know what it’s like to really live in the Yukon, because Whitehorse isn’t the end-all and be-all of Yukon. There’s so much to offer from the communities.

“I wanted to get in touch with what being a true Yukoner really meant. I felt that I could do that in the communities and learn a lot from them.”

That desire to learn from others and be outside her comfort zone drew Bradshaw to the idea of working with Haiti Village Health. The non-profit was founded by Canadian emergency physician Dr. Tiffany Keenan in the mid-2000s with a goal to assist in the provision of health care by supporting the local health-care professionals to become self-sufficient.

“I want it to be things that this community, the Bas Limbe region, needs,” said Bradshaw.

“A lot of foreign aid isn’t really aid. A lot of money gets funneled into things that people don’t actually need, want or find useful, you know? So, if what this region needs is us to come in and just do the outreach stuff, if that’s what’s going to be most helpful, then that’s what I want to do.

“I don’t want it to be me showing up and thinking like ‘I know what’s best, this is what we want to do’. I want it to be something that they want. That’s what I like about this organization – it is a Canadian physician that started it and the programs are run by Haitians in that region and they know what their people need.”

The Yukon team wants to raise $5,000 to bring down medical supplies to the Bas Limbe clinic. They have been bagging groceries at Superstore and plan on having a live music pub night fundraiser sometime in January. Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/jj6cgc.

Contact Alistair Maitland at alistair@yukon-news.com.