Nursing Outreach via Facebook
A nurse uses social media to create access to care during forest fire season. This involved maintaining communication with patients and health providers, arranging needed supplies to be dropped off., etc. Post-emergency, the impact of the nurse’s Facebook page was exponential and formalized into a professional page where community members can message her through there.
In 2017, when we had the fires come through and the communication fell apart, the first thing that was back up was internet because it was up in the mountain and it was solar. We still had no power. So that lasted two days or so and then that went down. But in that time, what we did was, I was friends on Facebook with people in each of the communities, with patients who had added me and sent me a message at some point and said, ‘When are you next in my community? [etc.]’. So I reached out to someone in each of the communities and said, ‘We can’t get to you. We’re all fires to the left of us and fires to the right of us. So we can’t get to you but I’m trying to make sure everybody’s okay, find out what everyone needs.’ I would like to have someone – hopefully one of the nurses if there’s a nurse in the community – there wasn’t in most of the communities, or someone at the clinic or someone that I trusted who could accumulate needs. Whether it’s baby formula or ostomy supplies or prescriptions or whatever. So this was how it started was just gather that so that we can figure out how to get what you need. So this became a fairly complex web that was completely Facebook moderated because most of the people in these communities don’t even have email addresses. They just have Facebook Messenger and that’s – they go on Wi-Fi and that’s what they can do. So anyway, [I’m proud of] that – and we got all of these things that people needed, we did have military do a couple of helicopter drops into the communities that were inaccessible, we had pharmacies from around BC that were packaging up prescriptions and sending them to Anahim Lake and doing this thing, meeting the RCMP in the midst of the fire and getting escorted through and whatever. We did all these tricky things and then distributed medications to the communities and it worked beautifully. So in the midst of this, all these patients had gotten access to me and it was super efficient. So for six weeks I didn’t go to a community because we weren’t traveling. We were on evacuation order or alert, and in that time I was on the phone and on Facebook sorting people’s babies and eating, you know, I think he’s got sores in his mouth, whatever it might be. Chatting with people either on the phone, if they had a phone, or messaging with them. So it’s totally not confidential, it’s totally not cool, but you do what you have to do in desperate times. Once everything had blown over, the patients were still communicating with me. And so I can say, ‘I’m going to be in the community on such-and-such,’ or, ‘I’ll call you tomorrow morning.’ So it had become a forum for communication. When this other NP left and I was back to eight communities, I said to my bosses in Kelowna, ‘I would like to explore this.’ I know Facebook, obviously, isn’t a confidential platform. How can we do this? So I set up a Facebook page that is my professional page that has a disclaimer on it that Interior Health has helped me work on and…since I formalized that, I’ve tripled the number of people that I connect with.
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