Perinatal program now being delivered here

Heather Latter

Confederation College has partnered with Conestoga College (located in Kitchener) and Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. to offer the perinatal nursing program for registered nurses locally.
“Riverside approached Confederation College to offer a perinatal program, which is not a program we have in our book of programs, but Conestoga has the perinatal program,” explained Anne Renaud, director of the local campus for Confederation College.
She added it is an Ontario College Graduate Certificate program that’s designed to embrace and support the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those working with child-bearing families.
“We were struggling with having enough nurses qualified with that specialty,” noted Julie Loveday, director of In-patient and Emergency Services at Riverside.
She said perinatal nursing is not just about delivering babies, but also focuses on labour and newborns.
“And we’re very remote here in Fort Frances, so it’s important that they have the knowledge and the experience, comfort level, and confidence to do the job,” Loveday stressed.
Renaud said since some of the employees at Riverside already were taking some of the online courses in the program, Confederation College contacted Conestoga about a year ago to see if it would be willing to work together to adapt the program.
“There was a bit of urgency in getting it done,” she admitted. “The online program can take quite a long time to do on your own and we wanted a whole cohort to be able to go through it together.”
A total of nine RNs from Riverside signed up to participate in this innovative program, which started in July and will wrap up by the end of November.
Renaud said the delivery of Perinatal North was uniquely designed to meet the specific needs of the community.
“The delivery is a combination of technology-enabled learning, face-to-face classroom instruction in Fort Frances, and a clinical experience in Kitchener, Ont.,” she noted.
Angela Murphy, a nursing instructor from Conestoga College, was in Fort Frances last week, providing a second week of face-to-face instruction.
“We are delighted to work with Confederation College, Riverside Health Care, and Grand River Hospital in Kitchener to provide area nurses with the in-depth knowledge and hands-on training required to meet community needs for advanced perinatal care,” said Marlene Raasok, executive dean of the School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services at Conestoga College.
“They have a significant number of deliveries [in Kitchener], so it’s great that our RNs will get a lot of experience in birth and delivery,” remarked Lori Maki, executive vice-president and chief nursing executive for Riverside.
She noted hey have 3,000-4,000 births a year there while La Verendrye Hospital here sees less than 200 annually.
“We are excited about this new program, and are the first in Northwestern Ontario to provide our staff with the ability to further their education in obstetrics while remaining in their home community,” enthused Loveday.
“This exciting learning opportunity will ensure that our nursing staff gain experience and confidence in providing optimal obstetrical care,” she added.
“Riverside . . . is committed to continuous improvement and delivering exceptional care,” echoed Maki.
“Opportunities such as these ensure quality, accessible education through innovative programs, services, and partnerships for the benefit of our community.”
She also said Confederation College is great about striving to meets the needs of the community.
“If we don’t offer the program, we try to work with others to facilitate it,” Renaud explained, adding they are hoping to be able to offer the perinatal program to other communities in Northwestern Ontario.
“We also hope to continue the partnership that we started with Conestoga to perhaps offer other programs, both in health and in other areas, as well,” she said.
“The key was the three organizations working together,” Renaud stressed.
“It’s sometimes challenging to have three groups working everything out, but it worked really well and that was what was able to make it happen—and to make it happen in our community,” she noted.
“These partnerships allow us to respond to the specific educational and training needs of the communities of Northwestern Ontario.”