NORTHEASTERN ALBERTA HEALTH UNIT
by Lois Sheplawy
Prior to the establishment of the Health Unit in Elk Point area, immunization was carried out by the local physicians namely, Drs. F.G. Miller, A. Ross and A. Weigerinck.
It was not until January, 1958, that the Health Unit established, with head office in St. Paul and sub-office Smoky Lake and Bonnyville. Mrs. Herbert Steinhauer acting senior nurse and had five public health nurses won in the field and two municipal nurses for Tulliby Lake and Fishing Lake. Later, in 1961, Dr. Harris joined the staff as Medical Officer of Health and the following year F Russell filled in the position as Health Inspector.
Some three years later the Health Unit program extended to the County of St. Paul, but it was not until May, 1965, that Elk Point accepted the Health Unit Program. Services Elk Point and area continued with a public health nurse commuting from the St. Paul office.
With the phasing out of municipal nurses, it was the Health Unit Board's decision to establish a sub-office in Elk Point because services then would extend east to Saskatchewan border. In the summer of 1972 a sub-office was established in the Elk Point Municipal Hospital and under the direction of (Mrs.) Margaret Richards.
The area presently provided with public health service extends east to the Saskatchewan border and includes the villages of Lindbergh and Heinsburg and the Fishing Lake Colony as well as the following communities -- Stony Lake, Shamrock Valley, Ferguson Flats and Northern Valley.
Public health nurses function as part of the total Community health program for the promotion of health, the improvement of the conditions of the physical environment the prevention of illness and disability and for rehabilitation. Main areas of service include instruction to expectant parents on prenatal care, preparation for parenthood and provision of advice on post natal, infant and child care; immunization programs for all age groups; provision of nursing service to school age children by means of counselling, screening and referral for required care; prevention of the spread of communicable diseases through such means as case-findings, supervision and treatment of patients who had contact with certain diseases and are on prophylatic medication, e.g., tuberculosis, infectious hepatitis, venereal disease, rheumatic fever; collaboration with Mental Health services and Handicapped Services to ensure adequate care and follow-ups of patients and their families. In the field of health education, the public health nurse also functions as a resource to other nurses, teachers and other personnel in matters relating to the protection of public health, particularly in group settings.
Presently, the Health Unit office is situated in the new Municipal Hospital with (Mrs.) Lois Sheplawy as public health nurse, and plays an integral role in the Allied Health Services provided to the community