Stepping Stone Wellness Clinic open house celebration held at Kamsack Hospital Friday

            An open house was held at the Kamsack Hospital on Friday in celebration of the successes and achievements of the Stepping Stone Wellness Clinic that has been in operation for about nine months.

            Gary Shepherd, director of mental health and addictions services for the Sunrise Health Region, was the emcee of the program. He welcomed everyone to the event which was held in the hospital’s dining room and introduced the guest speakers and members of the Stepping Stone staff.

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            “It is nice to be joined by colleagues and friends to celebrate with us this special day,” Shepherd said before introducing Elder Frances Bird who said an opening prayer.

            Shepherd delivered a short overview of the clinic which had begun in October 2014 with an initiative of staff of Sunrise, Health Canada and the provincial ministry of health and representatives of the First Nation communities, including Senator Ted Quewezance of Keeseekoose First Nation, who had stressed a need concerning First Nations people.

He explained that the Stepping Stone clinic is part of a network of new and proactive services that includes a treatment centre at Cote First Nation, the New Beginnings Outreach Centre in Kamsack and the Kamsack Family Resource Centre.

That is a network of services to help individuals from early childhood to seniors, Shepherd said, adding that Stepping Stone provides a number of harm reduction opportunities including methadone substitute therapy.

“We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he said, expressing thanks to the Kamsack Hospital where the program is conducted.

Terry Dennis said the facility is a great achievement for Kamsack and the surrounding communities and provides co-ordinated services that are culturally reflective. He mentioned the several partners who shared with the initiative and thanked everyone on behalf of the minister.

“This is an inspiring partnership that shows all can work together,” Dennis said.

Hard work and dedication from many resulted in the formation of the clinic, said Christina Denysek, interim president and CEO of the health region.

The health of individuals and families is the key, Denysek said. Through collaboration of all, such important work can be done in spite of the fact that it is never easy to find the right service delivery model.

Denysek applauded Painted Hand for its donation to the clinic and said the clinic staff is pleased with the continued support and commitment from Painted Hand.

She encouraged everyone to tour the facility and said that a holistic approach to health is important. With team-based care that is family centred, great things are happening in the community.

Stan Bobb, chair of the Painted Hand Community Development Corporation, said that the corporation is proud to have been distributing funds from the casino proceeds since 2002 and is responsible for donating about $20 million a year to various causes, of which the CDC distributes $2 million, a quarter of which has gone to Sunrise Health Region projects.

“At the CDC we don’t give hand-outs, we give hand-ups,” Bobb said, adding that although when gatherings deal with addictions it is often a sad occasion, but this day is a celebration to healing and wellness.

Addictions do not know age or ethnicity; they affect everyone the same, he said, adding that the CDC looks forward to enhancing what is here in order to assure a brighter future for the children.

Members of the staff of Stepping Stone were introduced and then Bradley Cote, a client of the methadone clinic talked about his experience in the program which helped him overcome his problems and adopt positive choices.

A closing prayer by Bird concluded the program which was followed by tours of the facility.

The clinic is filling a need in Kamsack and the surrounding communities through the provision of team-bases services located to provide accessible, respectful and integrated primary health care services, said a release from Sunrise.

In October 2014, the Saulteaux Pelly Health Initiative began discussions on the need for continued service to clients in the Kamsack area due to the scheduled discontinuation of the methadone program, the release said. The Health Initiative is made up of representation from the Ministry of Health, Health Canada, leadership from the three First Nation communities in the area as well as Sunrise Health Region.

As standards for programming and the clinic were being set, discussions began to centre around a full understanding of the breadth of client needs, it said. The Saulteaux Pelly Health Initiative is a governing body which continues to meet, sharing updates and continued discussions on community needs, with Sunrise Health Region in charge of clinic operations and day-to-day management needs.

The vision of the all-inclusive clinic became reality due to two very important factors – the availability of existing space in the Kamsack Hospital to provide a co-located and co-ordinated clinic space and funding of $36,000 provided by the Painted Hand Community Development Corporation towards the purchase of needed furnishings and equipment.

“The Painted Hand Community Development Corporation played an instrumental role and this could not have happened without their contribution,” Shepherd, said. “We are grateful for their generosity that has provided a place where our clients can access an environment that allows coordinated access to team-based care in one location that are client and family-centered.”

The Stepping Stone Wellness Clinic, named by a client through a survey submission, opened on September 6, the release said. It includes a screening room, one exam room, five talk rooms, a dedicated lobby and storage space as well as a ceremonial room.

The ceremonial room is a very special area opened to all clients and patients of the hospital 24 hours a day, it said. Smudging (or cleansing) ceremonies can be held in the room and it can also be used, by request, to connect Elders with patients. The clinic area provides space for visiting programs and services, specialty physician services, and provides appointments and accepts walk-clients on dedicated methadone clinic days on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“This very special clinic is a multi-disciplinary approach to holistic health care,” said Denysek “It works to provide public health, primary care, mental health and treatment services for a variety of clients.

“This clinic exemplifies the importance of community and team efforts in working towards meeting area residents’ needs where they feel most comfortable to access them.”