The Front Line

Click below for stories and voices from frontline workers

HIV Strategy Successes

“I’ve learned to be more aware of the areas I’m struggling with and how to deal with them.”

Oasis Participant

“If you’re trying to find somewhere to sleep every couple days then taking HIV medication becomes secondary.”

Kirsten & Katelyn, HIV Case Managers, Population & Public Health, Mental Health & Addictions Services

“We’re not just dealing with HIV but the other things that have been going on since your diagnosis.”

Kirsten, HIV Case Manager, Population & Public Health

"Change is out there, it’s happening."

Amy & Jacqui, Street Outreach Nurse, Street Outreach Worker, Population & Public Health

”Funding has allowed some CBOs to expand some of their services, for example…”

Denise, Regional HIV Strategy Coordinator, Population & Public Health

“These are big decisions they’re making about their lives.”

Jason, Outreach Worker, AIDS Saskatoon

“Cumfi works with every challenge in the inner city.”

Shirley Isbister, President, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc (CUMFI)

“Moms are engaged early on in pregnancy.”

Nicole, Nurse, Positive Living Program

"They have someone they trust that can support them through their pregnancy."

Nicole, Nurse, Positive Living Program

We test when baby is born and monitor over the next 18 months."

Nicole, Nurse, Positive Living Program

“Everyone is treated like an equal, and that keeps everyone linked together”

Della, Nurse Practitioner, Westside Community Clinic

“We’ve built some really good partnerships with pharmacies.”

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

“Poverty, racism – I don’t include these any more because they’re so 'every day'.”

Shirley Isbister, President, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc (CUMFI)

“In 2008 one of the fastest growing HIV positive groups was women of child bearing age.”

Jackie, Sexual & Reproductive Health Program Coordinator, Saskatchewan Prevention Institute

“We’ve been more successful under an HIV Strategy.”

Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Deputy Medical Health Officer, Population & Public Health

“We’re not just testing you because we want to find more cases…”

Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Deputy Medical Health Officer, Population & Public Health

"People’s lives have a lot of chaos so we have to fit people in, see them when we can and not worry about the no-shows."

Dr. Ryan Meili, Physician, West Side Community Clinic

“The functional definition of addiction recovery is establishing a life worth living without using.”

Dr. Peter Butt, Physician and Methodone Provider, Mental Health & Addictions Services

“People tend to focus on whether people are on methadone as a measure of recovery. I don’t look at it that way.”

Dr. Peter Butt, Physician, Methadone-Assisted Recovery Program, Mental Health & Addictions Services

“Mothers who are working through their addictions can find supportive living arrangements.”

Brenda McAllister, Program Manager Methadone-Assisted Recovery Program

“The outbreak has increased our resources and ability to respond…”

Dr. Peter Butt, Physician, Methadone-Assisted Recovery Program, Mental Health & Addictions Services

“Clearly we're in continuous gridlock…”

Dr. Peter Butt, Physician, Methadone-Assisted Recovery Program, Mental Health & Addictions Services

“I think the Strategy has done a good job in getting information out there.”

Jackie, Sexual & Reproductive Health Program Coordinator, Saskatchewan Prevention Institute

“Sometimes the questions asked are not the questions that need to be asked.”

Rachel Loewen Walker, Executive Director, OUTSaskatoon

Ongoing Challenges & Issues

“All of a sudden you realize you cannot pay for your medication and may miss taking them.”

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

"Coverage is super-important."

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

"The working poor are a group that is hard hit."

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

"One of the things a client came up with on his own was..."

Kirsten, Social Worker, Population & Public Health

“Treatment is just one issue in peoples’ lives.”

Patty, Family Violence support worker, Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre (SIMFC)

“It’s clear we need Aboriginal input and Aboriginal organizations.”

Patty, Family Violence support worker, Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre (SIMFC)

“Continuity for contacts is an issue if funding stops.”

Lorraine & Laurie, Persons Living Well With AIDS (PLWA)

"I just keep hearing about addiction, and it adds an extra layer of stigma."

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

"Stigma for young people is an issue, almost more so than for adults."

Nicole, Nurse Positive Living Program

"Who to tell and when to tell and do you need to tell?"

Nicole, Nurse Positive Living Program

"Misinformation sometimes prevents engagement."

Katelyn, HIV Case Manager, Mental Health & Addictions Services

"Some of the issues are so systemic."

Denise, Regional HIV Strategy Coordinator

"In a protocol-driven environment, the cultures frequently collide."

Dr. Peter Butt, Physician, Methadone-Assisted Recovery Program, Mental Health & Addictions Services

“Not being able to be “out” is a detriment, a determinant of health.”

Rachel Loewen Walker, Executive Director, OUTSaskatoon

“We need people from the community teaching people in the community.”

Jason, outreach worker, AIDS Saskatoon

“In a great many rural communities there’s a single pharmacy where you’d purchase condoms, so confidentiality is a problem.”

Evelyn Reisner, Executive Director, Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon

"Shelters are often full."

Kirsten, HIV Case Manager, Population & Public Health

"These are bandage solutions..."

Katelyn, HIV Case Manager, Mental Health & Addictions Services

"If there's one thing that resonates its housing, in terms of the ripple effect."

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

"There have been some good initiatives."

Kirsten, HIV Case Manager, Population & Public Health

“Supported housing is one of the biggest challenges because without housing how do you stay on medication?”

Shirley Isbister, President, Central Urban Metis Federation Inc (CUMFI)

"Parking is expensive and hard to find, and navigating in the urban setting can be challenging."

Shelly, Social Worker, Positive Living Program

"Resources are stretched but we sometimes lose people in the wait."

Kirsten, HIV Case Manager, Population & Public Health

“The threshold for qualifying to receive Home Care is high.”

Nanette, Nurse, Home Care Services

“For my clients who are going to die, a place to die with dignity.”

Katelyn, HIV Case Manager, Mental Health & Addiction Services

Messages of Hope

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About the Data

Many dedicated social workers and health providers are making a difference in the lives of persons living with HIV. These stories showcase some of the important front line work being done in Saskatoon Helath Region, explain the challenges faced by clients, and explore potential gaps in health delivery that need to be addressed.

The stories are based on key informant interviews. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Saskatoon Health Region. Interviewees were selected from a convenient sample of front line health providers and social workers, managers, coordinators and the deputy Medical Health Officer for Saskatoon Health Region. Interviews were conducted in 2012 and 2013 by the Public Health Observatory Communicable Disease Epidemiologist, Judith Wright, who also wrote the stories. Respondents were asked to describe the context for a typical workday, the barriers their clients and patients face, the successes they see and the gaps in service provision. They were also asked what personally gives them hope in their work. Each story was approved for public release by the individual interviewed. Gender and age of cases discussed may be changed to protect identity.

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