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First of its kind Student Wellness Centre begins providing healthcare for U of R students

By University Adancement and Communications Posted: October 19, 2021 11:00 a.m.

The nurse practitioner-led Student Wellness Centre is open and staff are ready to begin providing primary healthcare services to students.
The nurse practitioner-led Student Wellness Centre is open and staff are ready to begin providing primary healthcare services to students. Photos: UAC

The University of Regina is the first university in Canada to open a nurse practitioner-led Student Wellness Centre on campus, and staff are ready to begin providing primary healthcare services to students.  

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Maureen Klenk, the Associate Dean
(Student Wellness) of the Faculty of Nursing,
and one of the nurse practitioners who will
be providing care for students at the
Wellness Centre.

“I think the University community should be very proud that they have been innovative enough in their thinking to realize that this is an opportunity and that they had the foresight to see that it was a possibility,” said Maureen Klenk, Associate Dean (Student Wellness) of the Faculty of Nursing at the U of R, and one of the nurse practitioners at the Wellness Centre. 

“The Student Wellness Centre really is a unique feature, and it speaks to how the U of R believes and values providing service while creating a place of connection for our students,” added Dr. Cheryl Pollard, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing at the U of R. “We’re here to serve our student population. We’re creating a home. We’re creating a space where people can thrive, whether that’s through creating a healing space or whether that’s helping them achieve their academic dreams. The U of R really has some powerful demonstrations of that commitment, and the Student Wellness Centre is one of them.” 

Klenk said the nurse practitioners at the Centre, located at Room 119 on the ground floor of the Paskwaw Tower, can provide several in-person services to students and the families of students who live on campus. They can order and interpret diagnostic tests, monitor lab work, prescribe drugs, renew prescriptions, perform minor surgical procedures, and can refer to specialists. They can manage and assist with chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure, while also help augment the mental health services that are already available on campus. The Centre will also continue to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics. 

A full list of the services offered can be found on the Wellness Centre’s website. Students can book appointments online only at this time.  Hours are Monday to Friday – 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Anyone experiencing an emergency is asked to call 9-1-1.

The Centre held some trial runs in the Fall to ensure all the processes were functioning correctly, but the capabilities of the staff and the centre had already been put to the test earlier in the summer when the University played host to more than 450 people from Shoal Lake Cree Nation and Red Earth Cree Nation who were evacuated from their homes due to wildfires. 

Klenk said they helped treat about 10 per cent of the evacuees and referred many more to other healthcare providers over the six days they were on campus.

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“It helped give us a sense of the capabilities of the centre,” Klenk said. “Seeing people waiting in the waiting room for their care and seeing the nurse practitioner help with the care certainly gave it a realness.” 

But what it also gave was a burgeoning partnership with the SHA – a partnership that Klenk assumed would be established after the doors opened, not before. 

“It really helped solidify SHA’s willingness to partner with us,” she said. “They were really excited to see our facility and to experience the flow that we could have, and they identified quite quickly that they would like to continue that partnership with us.” 

Klenk is hopeful the partnership might lead to expanded care in the future, where for instance, students could access a nutritionist or respiratory therapist once per week. 

“We’ve always had the ability to refer out to them but to have them come in would make it so much easier,” she said. 

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The Wellness Centre features several
treatment rooms, a laboratory, a
gathering area and reception area.

Klenk said she will also be exploring potential partnerships with other faculties in the future to see how together they can promote disease prevention and health promotion.  

Aside from seeing the Centre as an important service for students and a point of pride for the University and the Faculty of Nursing, Dean Pollard sees great potential for the Centre as a teaching and research facility. 

“We are hoping to have practicum students work with our professionals in the clinic and we are hoping to have undergrads work there as well and have a peer-to-peer component,” she said. “On the research piece, having a nursing led primary health clinic is unique so we need to be able to share our experiences and how we were able to get the successes, how we are making a difference, how do we create a face of healing and how to engage with students internationally and from different communities. The Wellness Centre is well positioned to take on those questions.”