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Crossroads Clinic nurse practitioner provides care for newly arrived refugees and makes transition easier

March  9, 2015

Viviene Elson and Roseanne Hickey
Secretary Viviene Elson (left) and nurse practitioner Roseanne Hickey (right), from WCH’s Crossroads Clinic.

When first entering the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital (WCH), many patients start to feel at home.

Crossroads – which provides primary care to newly arrived refugees – features signs welcoming patients in many languages, at the main desk. The clinical team also works with interpretive services so that individuals can receive care in a language they understand. What’s more, clinicians make time to orient newcomers to Canada and the country’s healthcare system.

“At Crossroads, we offer support that you likely wouldn’t see at a typical clinic,” explains  Roseanne Hickey, a nurse practitioner at the clinic. “We look after medical needs – but also make sure patients understand how the healthcare system works in Canada, so that they can access and navigate care when they need to do so.”

From knowing the steps on how to book an appointment with a specialist to picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, the team at Crossroads reviews standard procedures with patients.

“It’s important that patients are fully aware of what services are available to them – and how to access these services,” said Hickey. “It can be a lot to take in. Many of our patients have been through a lot and might be dealing with anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress.”

Individuals claiming refugee status in Canada typically have first-hand experiences involving war, violence and trauma. It’s not uncommon for the care team to provide information and referrals for mental health services.

The care team also supports patients in managing chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, pregnancy care, family planning and other health concerns.

On a broader scale, Hickey and her colleagues at Crossroads are advocating for accessible healthcare for refugees, across Canada. The care team has a strong presence at conferences and National Day of Action events. Recently, Hickey participated in a recent RNAO-coordinated panel discussion on advocacy in healthcare.

“Our fight isn’t over,” said Hickey. “Refugees and newcomers need to be heard – and nurses are playing an important role in making sure that patient experiences and needs are brought to light.”


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