14 May The Power of Naturopathic Medicine and Intersectional Trauma-Focused Care
By Dr. Ann Grimwood, ND, and Dr. Rebecca Handford, ND
The Vancouver Women’s Health Collective (VWHC) is a non-profit organization helping all who self-identify as women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming to foster health, wellness, and equity through feminist approaches to advocacy, shared knowledge, and low-barrier programs and services. In 2020, just as the pandemic started, the VWHC launched a free naturopathic clinic, in collaboration with the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), Boucher Campus.
The patients we serve through our naturopathic clinic are some of the most marginalized people living in Vancouver, many of whom are facing multiple barriers, utilizing social services, living in single-occupancy rooms or shelters, and the vast majority have experienced trauma. Some are battling addiction, homelessness, are Indigenous peoples who have experienced significant trauma and abuse, and those who are here illegally because they are trying to flee danger. Others are front-line workers working low wage jobs without benefits. Many are caregivers for their elderly parents and children. Given these circumstances, we take a sensitive, patient-centered approach to the care we provide.
Health equity is an issue for a lot of our patients, and many are coming to see us as a last hope because there’s a lack of services they can utilize. Through our clinic, we’ve been able to offer care to help bridge these gaps. This includes everything from helping our patients understand what’s going on with them physically and medically, writing referral letters if care exceeds what we are able to provide, issuing and re-filling prescriptions, offering them nutritional guidance, and supporting stress management using acupuncture. Pap testing – something women and non-binary individuals often feel uncomfortable with – is also something we offer at the clinic, and we take a very sensitive approach to these exams, so patients feel comfortable.
We hope the work we are doing through the VWHC is a testament to how naturopathic medicine is complementary to our existing health systems and how it can benefit the health and well-being of all Canadians, including those who experience intersecting forms of oppression in their daily lives.
To learn more about the work we are doing through the VWHC visit: https://womenshealthcollective.ca/.