September's Nurse of the Month: Lori Timmer (she/her), RN, Community Health Nurse

Lori Timmer has been caring for people since she was a teenager. When her grandmother moved in with her family, Lori didn't hesitate to lend a helping hand.

“When my grandpa passed away, we brought her to live with us while she waited for a nursing home. She was confined to a wheelchair, so sitting beside my grandma, talking to her, playing card games, taking her for walks in the wheelchair up and down the street, I really liked doing that,” says Lori. “Then the year I was 15 I think or 16, I got a job in the hospital in the reception area, and it was just what I wanted to do.”

Lori has been at 7th Street Health Access Centre in Brandon since 2008, seeing the clinic grow in leaps and bounds, while providing a wide range of services, including harm reduction, HIV and Hep C treatment, education, STI testing, blood pressure checks, smoking cessation, immunizations and being visible in the community so vulnerable people know where they can go for care.

“Somebody can come in and they’re not exactly sure if they need to be seen at a walk-in clinic, we can help them get to a walk-in clinic,” says Lori. “If we need to send someone to the ER, same kind of thing, we phone ahead and talk to the triage nurse and say, you know this client needs to be seen and this is why I'm sending them.”

Lori adds that they understand that not everyone has the ability to come to the clinic, which is why they make it a priority to take their services to them.

“I love walking downtown or to the where the tents community is, just going and saying “hi”, because it's amazing how much that means to people just to have somebody that actually cares enough to be out there looking after them,” says Lori. “Whatever needs to be done. I am absolutely better because I am able to connect with and work with these people that I absolutely love.”

She adds that she’s part of an entire team that is dedicated to providing compassionate health care to the city’s vulnerable population.

“Our whole team is wonderful here. It's not just me. I mean everyone here is amazing and going to places that yeah maybe a lot of people wouldn't necessarily be comfortable going. But for the most part the street community loves to see us and we're well received,” says Lori. “You know I want to say to them “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.” They amaze me every single day that they're out there and they're surviving. You know they're doing it and they truly are amazing.”

For Lori and the team, this means not only providing medical care but also being advocates for the patients and creating a supportive, safe environment for them. Making sure every patient feels heard and valued.

“We know with mental health, sometimes there’s addiction that comes with that, but we always will work with the clients. We never say that you can't come in here. We would never say that to somebody. This is a safe place for you. We do want to be respected but we will never ever say you can't come see us,” says Lori. “We're very, very aware that we're sometimes the only place people have left.”

“A lot of the time I can’t walk around downtown Brandon anymore without being stopped, whether I'm at work or not, and that's great. I love it!”