© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Prenatal classes are held at the Family Futures Clinic on Tuesday afternoons for expectant mothers.
Every Tuesday, the Family Futures Clinic has been hosting a prenatal clinic for expectant mothers.
“We established one in our building in partnership with the health region,” executive director Donna Strauss said. “Mainly it was to provide access for women who might not be accessing other prenatal care.”
Since Family Futures is an outreach program, it helped make many mothers receive prenatal care who may not have otherwise.
“People know us from doing the home visiting that we do, they establish a relationship with our staff, they feel comfortable coming in our building then to see the doctor and nurse practitioner,” Strauss said. “It is to give them better access. Some people are quite intimidated in going into places where they are not well known.”
She explained many women access prenatal care through a walk-in clinic, which often is not enough.
“Because they need more prenatal care than that, this is a good option for them,” Strauss said.
One of the reasons women may not be getting enough care is the lack of doctors taking on new patients, Strauss said.
“I think that might have something to do with it,” Strauss said. “In the first place, to find a doctor who is taking on new patients and then to find someone who is doing obstetrics -- someone who will provide that prenatal care.”
There are also other obstacles women may face when trying to access care, Strauss said.
“For example, during our Tuesday clinic we provide transportation, we pick them up and give them a ride,” Strauss said. “Often that is a barrier to them being able to go for a prenatal check is they can’t get there. Sometimes they don’t have a health card. There are lots of challenges that people face that stop them from going to a regular clinic.”
Family Futures is there to help fill in the gaps and help out the expectant mothers.
“We started about a year ago in May and I think it was a little slow to start but yes it has gone very well,” Strauss said.
There are two doctors who alternate coming in on Tuesday afternoons and a nurse practitioner joins them on Mondays and Wednesdays to help with clinic overflow, doing new baby checks and visiting with the outreach staff.
“The prenatal clinic is well established right now,” Strauss said. “There are about 61 patients that we are seeing through here.”
She said July was their slow month and they took in 25 new referrals -- women who have benefited from the help have told others about their experience.
“I think the women that we work with certainly appreciate the support that they get from our program and just to have someone interested in them, to pick them up and get them where they need to go,” Strauss said. “In our home visiting program we are seeing them every couple of weeks with their pregnancy and just trying to be a support to them. I know it is appreciated in the community by the number of referrals that we take.”
The clinic also provides other services other than prenatal clinics for pregnant mothers.
“It depends on what their need is,” Strauss said. “For our prenatals we have a mail coupon program, we provide them with coupons they can redeem in any store in Prince Albert for seven litres of milk a week to help with their nutrition.”
The clinic runs group programming for parenting and support in the evenings at times.
“They have childcare, transportation and a meal all attached to them, because those are all things that are barriers to women being able to take advantage of things out there for them,” Strauss said.
She said they also can put them in touch with any other services or support they need or be an advocate for them when looking for housing and involvement with Social Services.
“Whatever their needs are so the end result is having the healthiest baby possible,” Strauss said.
They also address other needs in the community as they become more apparent, Strauss said.
“Over the years we have tried to address whatever we see in the community as things that are needed,” Strauss said. “For instance, we now have three licensed childcare centres, we have a worker full time on the obstetrics floor providing outreach support to anybody, particularly to the women who come from the north to have their babies in P.A. We are always trying to identify with our participants what they need and how we can be of some help.”