Since she was small, Joanne Ogden's grandmother always said she would be a nurse, no matter how hard Ogden rejected the idea of it.
Now, with almost 32 years of experience in the field, Ogden, a community health nurse here in Rainy River District, will travel to Ottawa on May 8 to accept the First Nations and Inuit Health Award of Excellence in Nursing.
The award is handed out each year to three recipients from across Canada.
Ogden wasn't aware she had been nominated for the award by her boss, Armand Jourdain, the health director at Naicatchewenin First Nation, until she got the call saying she had received it.
“I was quite surprised when I got an e-mail and a phone call,” she chuckled.
“It is a Canada-wide competition and there are a lot of good nurses out there,” she added.
Along with her national award, Ogden also received a special award from Jourdain and the rest of her co-workers honouring her work in the community.
Ogden admitted she isn't very keen on the idea of awards.
“I thought it was amusing that [my co-workers] did this because they know I'm not about recognition,” she remarked.
“I believe that people should do a good job to do a good job.”
Still, Ogden said it was nice to be acknowledged for the work she does every day.
“Armand is a great guy to work for and this is a great community to work in,” she noted.
The awards ceremony will kick off National Nursing Week in Ottawa, with federal Health minister Jane Philpott to be on hand to present the awards to the three recipients.
Out of the three, Ogden is the only community health nurse.
Ogden has worked in the district since graduating from nursing school in 1985. She started off working in the intensive care unit at La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances, where she remained for 20 years.
She then decided it was time for a change and found a position with the Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services, where she started an at-home care program.
In 2013, her mother became ill so she began working as a community health nurse at both Manitou Rapids and Naicatchewenin First Nations because it was closer to home.
Since graduating from nursing school, Ogden said she's had one goal in mind: to ensure the residents of Rainy River District received equal care to those in larger city centres.
“To me, nursing is about people getting the right care in a timely fashion,” she reasoned.
Ogden noticed throughout her years of working in the community that there is a high level of need—and people are not receiving proper care.
“Some patients don't realize they're not getting the care they should,” she remarked.
“Others do but are too quiet to speak up about it.”
Ogden said one of the biggest problems in the community is diagnostics, especially with diabetes, a disease that seems to be growing quickly in our area.
Much of the time, residents have to leave the community in order to be diagnosed or treated.
There were more than 100 amputations in the district last year, said Ogden, which cost up to $43 million.
In order to break the cycle, Ogden is working on a plan for a “Wound Care Center of Excellence.”
She hopes to have it up and running in Emo soon, noting plans have been drafted and equipment has been purchased.
As well, Ogden said both chiefs from the First Nations' communities she works in are dedicated to the project.
“We are trying to bring the specialty here as opposed to us always having to leave for it,” she noted.
"We need to fix the problem where the problem is, not send the problem elsewhere.
“I am more of a problem-solver than a care-giver,” Ogden added.
“For me, it's finding out what the problem is and then finding a way to make people or things better.”