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Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Homecoming: Health Advocate Visits Rural Roots!

Downeyville Daughter Battles Homelessness, Poverty Daily!

image Anne Marie Batten Thanksgiving Weekend people return home to be with family and friends,the importance of which is extremely appreciated by Toronto Street Outreach Nurse, Anne Marie Batten. Locals know Anne Marie as Joe O'Neill's daughter,from Downeyville. Anne Marie's work in Toronto was recently profiled in two articles by Joe Fiorito of The Toronto Star, after the Mayor of their 'fair city' turned down the offer of free health care by the province. Anne Marie helps those not able get to a clinic or a hospital. Her work involves outreach, disease prevention, and harm reduction. The stories of the people she cares for are heart-breaking. Anne Marie credits her rural Downeyville roots for instilling her passion for trying to relieve poverty. We were very pleased, Anne Marie was able to take a few minutes to share some insights into the work she does,and encourage others to get involved in making the world a better place.

Homelessness: Problems Turn Nursing Vocation to Avocation

Anne Marie started her nursing career in Durham Region Emergency Departments,where she first saw homelessness.
'Some of my clients were homeless, because of mental health and addictions.' Anne Marie explained,adding,  'Looking back, it just seemed natural to speak up for them to ensure that they received the care they required.'
‘Growing up, I was fortunate to live in a rural community,where not only did everyone know each other, but we also knew if a family was struggling.'Anne Marie shared, adding: ' I remember how neighbours would go door-to-door collecting funds when someone was experiencing illness or tragedy. Both of my grandparents had farms, and we had vegetable gardens. I did not know what food insecurity meant.'

Homelessness:Street Outreach Nurses Battle Poverty,Inadequate Housing

Anne Marie's experiences in the Durham Region Emergency department, brought new meaning to her nursing career. She took specialized courses,and became a crisis nurse. Her new role involved a higher level of advocacy.
‘I started to realize it might be possible to really make a difference if we could intervene in the community, and prevent hospital visits.’, Ms. Batten revealed.
Anne Marie began working as a Street Outreach Nurse in downtown Toronto,where she provides nursing care from her backpack to homeless individuals on the street, and in drop-in centres.
'Through our programs, we also provide crisis care to seniors living in poverty,with unmet health care needs who are unable to access services.  When people do not have adequate housing, and food security, their health suffers.'Anne Marie explained, adding: 'As nurses, we fight a losing battle for poverty relief, and adequate housing, if we do not take our advocacy to a higher level.'

Homelessness: Battling Poverty Politically

During the recent election Anne Marie extended her reach,trying to make a difference by becoming actively involved in her local NDP riding association,because she also believes in putting the needs of people first. Toronto is not the only place where poverty hits seniors hard.
'Through my work with my local local NDP Riding Association, I have assisted seniors who were hesitant to call 911 for help due to unpaid ambulance bills, and I meet people everyday that have to make a choice between paying the rent, or feeding themselves.  I believe that average working families are also struggling to make ends meet, and that extends all across out province.'

Homelessness: Join the Battle Against Poverty

We asked Anne Marie what people can do to get involved.
'Our work must continue beyond the time of our elections. There are many ways for people to get involved through groups such as, the Ontario Health Coalition, Raise The Rates Campaigns, and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness to name a few.  I would encourage everyone to write to their MP's and ask for their support in passing Bill C-304 for the implementation of a National Housing Strategy. This would recognize housing as a basic right, which in turn would improve lives and have a direct impact on the health of all Canadians.'
Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks,not only for our harvest,but for those who tirelessly work to improve the lives of others. Perhaps Toronto's Mayor may not appreciate the importance of the work,  Anne Marie and her colleagues perform day-in and day-out. We,on the other hand,are thankful for Anne Marie,and others willing to make a difference.
Each of us has the potential make a difference in the lives of others.The question is- Are you willing to make a difference?
Toronto Star - Fiorito: A tour with the nurse the mayor turned down
Email Communications with Anne Marie Batten Oct. 8 –10
Connect with Anne Marie Batten on @AnneMarieBatten  or LinkedIn

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