Promoting the healthy growth and development of children is important to the staff at the North East public health office. Located at 108-407 Ludlow Street, the office offers a variety of child health services that include postnatal services, child health clinics, school health services and speech language . On site, there is also an International Travel Centre and regional Vaccine Management Centre, which supplies over 70 healthcare sites, including physician offices, with vaccines.

The Region Reporter sat down with Cristina Ugolini, Manager of Healthy Families, and Karen Grauer, Manager of the International Travel Centre, to learn about the diversity of services offered by Population and Public Health on Ludlow Street.

The North East public health office at 108-407 Ludlow Street.

The North East public health office at 108-407 Ludlow Street in Saskatoon.

Postnatal Services

 It’s not just moms who have the best interest of their newborns at heart. The North East office’s public health nurses are also looking out for the newest additions to our families.

“In the first 14 days of delivery, all new moms get a call from one of our public health nurses to provide health information to parents and to address any concerns they may have,” Ugolini says, adding that the nurses get a lot of questions about breastfeeding, infant care and safety.

“Additional maternal screening is provided at Child Health Clinics at the two and six month appointments to check in with moms to find out how they are feeling emotionally and physically, and to determine whether they require referrals for maternal wellness supports,” Ugolini explains. “This is an important part of the appointment, as focusing only on baby can lead to missed opportunities to support moms and families during this wonderful but often challenging time in their lives.”

Child Health Clinics

When children reach the age of two months, they are invited to attend one of the Region’s Child Health Clinics, where children can receive routine immunizations at two, four, six, 12 and 18 months, as well as at four years of age.

“Immunization helps prevent children from contracting many preventable diseases caused by viruses and bacteria, many of which can have serious or life-threatening outcomes,” says Ugolini. “Complications from these diseases may range from ear or skin infections to pneumonia, seizures, deafness, cancers and permanent brain damage.”

At the clinics, public health nurses immunize children under the age of five against 13 different diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, influenza, varicella (chicken pox), meningococcal and pneumococcal disease, and measles, mumps and rubella.

The clinics also provide parents with an opportunity to ask their public health nurse about mom’s health (for example, early signs of postpartum depression), as well as their child’s health.

“Public health nurses answer parental questions and concerns on topics ranging from infant growth and development, to feeding and nutrition, oral health, safety, speech development and exposure to second-hand smoke,” says Ugolini.

Public health nurses also assist in the early identification of children who are at risk for health delays, and assist parents in improving the knowledge of their child’s health and in finding sources of support in the community. The nurses work with many health professionals and may suggest referrals to assist parents with their child’s growth and development.

Clinics are offered at four of the five public health offices in the city, as well as satellite clinics and rural communities across the Region. Weekly drop-in clinics are also available to school-aged children, adults and families for free publicly-funded routine vaccinations.

For a list of appointment-based and drop-in clinics, visit Child Health Clinic locations.

School Health Services

Through the North East office’s school health services, public health nurses offer immunizations to students in Grades 1, 6 and 8.

The centre also houses program assistants who play a vital role in compiling immunization student lists for schools throughout the Region and in assisting with record management.

“The nurses also work with the school principal, staff and students in schools that have been chosen to be health promoting schools to create a school action plan that promotes positive mental health, physical activity and healthy eating,” says Ugolini.

Speech Language Services

At the North East public health office, speech language pathologists offer testing, home programming and reviews to rural preschool children who may be experiencing speech delays or have health conditions that may affect their speech. Those living in rural areas can access services in the communities of Rosthern, Humboldt, Lanigan, Watrous, Martensville and Warman.

“The preschool years are a time of important speech language development,” says Ugolini. “If a child’s speech and language is not developing as expected, early identification and treatment provide healthier outcomes.”

As many as 10 per cent of children experience communication delays, and this can increase to 30 per cent in high-risk groups, adds Ugolini.

“The greatest predictor of a child’s school success is their communication skills at three years of age,” she explains. “The better a child’s speech and language at three years of age, the better she or he will do academically and socially.”

To contact a speech language pathologist, call 306-655-4150.

International Travel Centre

In addition to the above child health services, the North East office offers fee-for service travel medicine advice, vaccinations and anti-malarial prescriptions through the International Travel Centre.

“The International Travel Centre is the only clinic in Saskatoon Health Region that offers the yellow fever vaccine, which is required for travel to many countries in Africa and South America,” Grauer says, adding that clients can call Monday to Friday to book an appointment with a registered nurse. The centre also runs clinics from Tuesday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., September to April, and Wednesday to Friday at the same times from May to August. A Saturday clinic is also offered once a month.

In addition, the centre has started offering a drop-in clinic for Hepatitis A and B vaccines – one of the centre’s most commonly given vaccines – on the third Thursday of the month from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Starting in May, the centre will be changing its clinic hours to the fourth Thursday of the month from 12 to 7 p.m. Other vaccines provided at the centre include Japanese encephalitis, rabies and typhoid (oral and injectable).

All vaccinations given at the centre are recommended and administered by registered nurses. At each visit, the nurses review your immunization history to ensure that you are up-to-date on all routine vaccinations; provide the appropriate health documentation and certification required for international travel; provide resource material about the health associated with specific destinations; and recommend the purchase of hard-to-acquire travel-related items, such as mosquito nets.

A Client Information Package is also provided. Depending on your destination, topics in the package may include fact sheets on food and water safety, hand hygiene while travelling, health and safety abroad, injury prevention abroad, insect precautions, and sun safety and travel, among other topics.

“Appointments should be made two months prior to departure, but it’s never too late to benefit from travel education and vaccines,” says Grauer, “so we encourage everyone who’s travelling to make an appointment before they depart to ensure that all of their vaccinations are up to date.”

All staff who works at the centre must have specialized training in travel health, and some of the registered nurses hold certification with the International Society of Travel Medicine. They also have direct access to medical health officers with additional training in tropical diseases.

In addition to offering vaccines to travellers, the centre offers vaccines for student educational requirements, external business occupational health and safety, and vaccinations for purchase to individuals who do not qualify for funded vaccines (e.g., chicken pox, hepatitis B, polio, shingles) through provincially-funded programs.

To book an appointment, call 306-655-4780, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the International Travel Centre website.