Mobile clinic will bring care to rural Indigenous communities
Project by Indigenous resident aims to provide medical access by bus in rural Quebec
Jessie Nault, MD, a PGY4 Obstetrics and Gynecology resident of Anishinaabe descent at the Université de Montréal, believes learning the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada provides insight into why they suffer health inequities compared to non-Indigenous people.
However, not every resident or physician has the same baseline of knowledge.
“I was talking about residential schools with a colleague recently and he had never heard of them,” she explains. “I thought, how could you be a senior resident today, and not know about this? Indigenous Peoples have been experiencing racism for hundreds of years in Canada and it continues today. It’s not something that exists solely in the past.”
Dr. Nault decided to get involved in initiatives to address Indigenous health at the systems level. Currently, she’s a member of the Royal College’s Indigenous Health Steering Committee, which develops cultural safe care tools (see below), in addition to helping to create an Indigenous curriculum for postgraduate medical education.
“When every future physician is aware of all the history and trauma of Indigenous Peoples, then they can change the health care system by changing their behavior,” says Dr. Nault.
Indigenous health resources you can use
- Indigenous Health Primer – want to know the basics? Stories and cases studies illustrating the long term health effects of policies including residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.
- Cultural Care Guidance for Clinicians during COVID-19 pandemic – 5 tips for assessing and treating Indigenous patients for COVID-19
A new way to offer access to care
Dr. Nault assumed she would work in a hospital serving patients once she transitioned into professional practice, but witnessing patients struggle without access to their support systems when they travelled to Montréal for treatment made her realize a new approach is needed.
“We always ask Indigenous patients to meet the physician in the big hospital. It’s about taking the patient out of their community, their culture, in order to receive care. What if we do the opposite?”
This question prompted her to develop a mobile clinic – a fully equipped mini bus to provide obstetrics care to Indigenous women in rural communities in Quebec.
The more she talked about her project at Université de Montréal, the more different specialists approached her to offer services on the bus, including minimal general surgery, postoperative care and pediatric follow up.
The project is Indigenous-led with specialists playing a supporting role. Discussions are underway within leadership circles in Indigenous communities in Quebec to ensure the services and approach align with the needs of patients.
Dr. Nault can’t wait to turn this idea into reality.
“This bus can change the way patients receive care and support Indigenous patients.”
Want to get involved? Contact Jessie.