Throughout this year, the stories of two healthcare professionals in Hay River have been told around the world.
Midwife Heather Heinrichs and nurse Lorie Steinwand were among those put in the international spotlight by the World Health Organization (WHO) for its Year of the Nurse and Midwife during 2020.
“The World Health Organization was looking for nurses and midwives working in the North to profile and ended up getting pointed in our direction,” said Heinrichs.
A writer representing WHO met her and Steinwand in December of last year.
Heinrichs was given the full treatment of a profile on the WHO website.
Steinwand, a registered nurse who is the Public Health supervisor with the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, said her story was used in “little snippets” at various times throughout the year.
“Like World Health Day, that’s when they use a little part of what I had said in the Northwest Territories,” she said. “So any time they have types of media things that come out, they’ll take parts of my story and they’ll share it in there.”
Steinwand said the WHO’s sharing of information means that she and Heinrichs are potentially being read about my nurses and midwives all over the world.
Heinrichs noted that she and Steinwand – both of Metis heritage – were selected to be focused on because the WHO was particularly interested in Indigenous nursing and midwifery in the North.
“I think they were looking for an opportunity to showcase the contributions Indigenous healthcare professionals are making, especially in remote communities,” she said.
Heinrichs added that the WHO recognizes the importance of Indigenous people providing healthcare to Indigenous people.
She grew up in Winnipeg, while Steinwand was born and raised in Fort Providence.
Heinrichs said she was honoured to be profiled by the WHO.
Steinwand was also pleased that nursing and midwifery in Hay River were put in the global spotlight.
“I was part of the implementation committee working together with a group of people to help get midwifery here,” she noted. “So for me to be a part of actually seeing the program unfolding and being worked and then being recognized by WHO that was the icing on the cake.”
Steinwand was also happy to bring attention to Hay River and the NWT as a whole.
“The opportunity to share the stories that we embrace, and the cultural diversity that we have to incorporate in some of our scopes of practice in where we work, I think sometimes it’s intangible,” she said. “You can’t touch that unless you are physically here. So when we have the opportunity to share those stories, I think it is so important for others to know.”
Heinrichs said she is pleased the WHO observed a Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
“I think that it’s really important to recognize, not only in the North but everywhere in the world, midwives and nurses have a huge impact on people’s health and are really at the frontlines, especially now that we have this global pandemic,” she said. “I mean where would the world be right now without the work that nurses and midwives are doing?”
Heinrichs was profiled while she worked at the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.
However, she is now taking some time off from clinical practice to make a short documentary on midwifery in the NWT.
She is still president of the Midwives Association of the Northwest Territories.
Thank you for a wonderful article.. I am an RN and have had the pleasure of working in Fort Smith.. the North is truly beautiful.. it is an honour that the WHO is recognizing nurses and midwives..