I was very fortunate to attend the very inspirational local community grand opening of an Immigrant Women’s Health Resource Clinic recently on December 2, 2010 in Surrey, British Columbia. It is a fabulous initiative that recognizes the critical needs and gaps in health care services provided for immigrant women. And it is the hope of all partners in this project to address these gaps by being the first of its kind in offering a team of nurses and a social worker to provide the women with awareness through education and support.
Four nursing practicum students initiated this resource with the encouragement and support from their professor: Dr. Gurm, who in turn, has successfully created a partnership with Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (P.I.C.S) to house this project. These five students saw the desperate need for this resource after they realized that this service was not being offered anywhere. So instead of being defeated by the lack of resources, these nurses became even more determined to launch this Immigrant Women’s Resource Clinic.
As I met with each of these nurses, I saw the passion and vision in each of their eyes to create and to birth this urgently needed haven for women to feel safe in disclosing, discussing, and accessing knowledge and support for their personal and crucial health issues. In speaking with Dr. Gurm, I was reminded that women still face many barriers towards health and wellness and in fact this situation has only worsened throughout the years. And with additional factors such as crucial government cut backs during difficult economic times, similar initiatives have come and gone quickly throughout the years.
All guests who attended this grand opening were privy to a Powerpoint presentation that exhibited statistics and information to reinforce how the lack of formal health care services equally reflects the lack of knowledge and awareness shared by women, especially immigrant women. Issues such as isolation, lack of knowledge, and prehistoric cultural taboos that encourage the lack of control over decision-making serve as barriers that these women continue to face. For me, it was shocking to hear how many women don’t have their own physician and how many immigrant women still practice out-dated methods (that their elders use) to address their personal health and wellness issues. Many of these women also continue to remain out of touch with modern day solutions for many medical issues that perhaps other groups of women continue to take for granted. So for these reasons alone, I applaud the hard work and persistence of these five students and their professor. City of Surrey’s Mayor Diane Watts (who is currently the fourth best mayor in the world) describes this initiative as, ”women helping women and becoming educated about their own health and how to access health professionals.” And on behalf of the City of Surrey, she has generously offered a one-time donation of two thousand dollars.
In ending, this initiative was not possible without the inspiration of the Kwantlen nursing students, Dr. Gurm. And it wasn’t possible without the generosities of P.I.C.S in providing a haven, Direct Furniture who donated and furnished the resource clinic and to the City of Surrey for their support towards this project. I left from there feeling very excited, motivated and energized by the leadership practiced by a fabulous professor and her nursing students. Another wonderful reminder that it only takes a few people to brainstorm, envision, to birth and to finally nurture a project through its infancy stages and beyond. For donations please contact: Dr. Gurm at 604 599 2267 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org