VIDC recognizes that to truly provide state-of-the-art care we need to continually inform and re-inform ourselves of what’s current.
This month we had the privilege to do just that! Through different initiatives and community involvement, VIDC was able to reconnect itself with the national and global healthcare community!
July 21: Information Exchange on HIV with Healthcare Professionals from China
On July 21st, HIV Specialists and Healthcare Professionals — including a representative from the Chinese Center for Disease Control — visited our clinic for an information exchange. Dr. Brian Conway, the President and Medical Director of VIDC, gave a presentation on what VIDC is doing in the HIV field. After the presentation, he opened the floor to dialogue with the Chinese delegates on the similarities and differences of dealing with HIV.
July 22: MAC-FI Meeting with Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor
Aside from the council members, VIDC staff physician Dr. David Truong, our HCV Clinical Research Nurse and Research Manager Shawn Sharma, and our Regulatory Manager Syune Hakobyan were also invited to the meeting.
July 23: Information Exchange on HIV and HCV Co-Infection with Healthcare Professionals from Australia
On July 23rd, we had the opportunity to have an information exchange with Healthcare Professionals from Australia to discuss HIV and HCV Co-Infection. Dr. Conway gave a presentation on what we know of HIV and HCV Co-Infection in Canada and how we are dealing with it. And then there was an open dialogue on the similarities and differences of the VIDC model with that applied to the situation in Australia.
One of our staff physicians, Dr. Alexandra King, also gave a very brief presentation on the status of HIV and HCV epidemic among Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and what projects VIDC will be developing to address these issues.
The more people we reach, the more staff we need to continue to provide the same quality care to everyone. As such, we welcome our new HCV Clinical Research Nurse, Yashna Bhutani RN BSN.
To introduce her to all of you, we did a brief — but insightful — interview with her and here are excerpts from that interview.
Everyone, here is Yashna Bhutani.
Let’s start with a generic question, tell us about yourself.
Y: I have been a science geek for as long as I can remember! What drives me each day is being able to learn new knowledge and keep challenging myself with a new task, goal or mission. I have always been extremely fascinated about learning and gaining more knowledge in various avenues and fields, whether it is an educational subject, or related to general knowledge in nutrition and fitness, or learning about the art of wine-making or the different styles of dances. I am especially passionate about health care; I feel that there’s never a dull day in the field of health care and science. Providing patient care and thriving to take on a leadership role in the health care system is what drives my passion.
After spending undergraduate years in UBC studying microbiology, immunology and psychology, I realized that the field of nursing would suit my interest in providing direct patient care, so I decided to pursue my BSc in Nursing at BCIT, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have had the privilege to work in surgical and medical units at Richmond Hospital and the Acquired Brain Injury Unit at GF Strong Rehab Center, both of which have allowed me to gain a copious amount of knowledge and develop various strengths in the field of nursing.
I hope to continue persevering towards my aspirations in the field of health care and continue to tackle different challenges to reach new heights in my career and the health care field.
How did you first learn about VIDC? And what drew you to us?
Y: I had never heard about VIDC until I saw the job posting, but I couldn’t stop myself from learning more about this center after discovering it! What drew me is their multidisciplinary and holistic approach to health care with a passionate team of health care professionals. I was captivated with their approach of non-judgmental patient care and research in such a balanced form in which both aspects are focused on but patient care takes utmost priority. The more I read about VIDC’s mission and initiatives, the more I visualized myself with the VIDC team and hoped to get the opportunity to contribute to their mission and advances in health care and research.
What aspect/s of your role at VIDC are you most excited about?
Y: My role at VIDC is of a Clinical Research Nurse, I will be closely working with clients for the treatment of Hepatitis C and HIV. I can’t begin to write what aspects of my role I am most excited about! There isn’t one aspect that I am any less excited about! This opportunity will allow me to further develop my nursing career to a whole new level, put me in the place to gain a lot of specialized knowledge about current and upcoming HCV and HIV studies, allow me to contribute to health care research and bring me one step closer to leading change as the health care field continues to grow with new discoveries in treatments and pharmaceuticals. Overall, it’s the journey of going from surgical nursing into clinical research nursing that I am most excited about.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to know the Yashna that’s not just a Clinical Research Nurse.
What’s the ONE thing you can’t without?
Y: I can’t live without education. I feel that there is so much in life that can be learned, and I wish that I could keep learning something new each day of my life.
THREE things most people don’t know about you.
Y: 1) I have a strong passion for dancing! I have gotten the chance to learn different forms of dances (Bollywood, Jazz, Salsa, Hip-Hop etc.), do various stage performances as well as choreograph dances.
2) I am terrified of honeybees and moths! I will jump out of my car in the middle of the highway or run off to the road into oncoming traffic to save myself from them. — That’s saying something because I really love my car! (Yes, I’m a car enthusiast too!)
3) I am an extremely indecisive shopper! Sometimes I am more indecisive after buying something than I am before buying it.
If you can only eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Y: Fruits! I can live without protein but I can’t live without fruits!
Do you have a motto or a personal mantra?
Y: Dream, Believe, and Receive
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Y: In my spare time, I love giving back to the community and supporting some of the causes I am most passionate about. Volunteering at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Canuck Place Hospice for Children is especially close to my heart and I like spending my spare time at these associations as much as possible.
Y: I can’t stand people being arrogant.
“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on Earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Lastly, do you have any hidden talents?
Y: I write poetry! Due to my curiosity of interpreting poetry and its hidden metaphors, I began writing to express my inmost feelings. I experiment with various topics and forms such as: sonnet, ballad, lyric and free verse and incorporate them into my poetry portfolio.
Here’s an excerpt of a poem she’s written:
Immersed in melancholy, my tranquility and path have gone astray
Handcuffs bind my body, but the spirit marches ahead and away
Freedom seems as exotic as a stranger’s first steps on a new land
As a ray of light protrudes, I vision the changed world stand
As you can see, at VIDC we are made up of a team of interdisciplinary individuals with diverse backgrounds. This — again like everything else we do — is to further our commitment to providing community-based holistic care for our patients. We are very different individuals working towards one goal!
The biggest lesson I learned is that for me to see treatment through, it requires a team that includes doctors, specialists, nurses, receptionists, cohorts, family and friends. And of course, a dog named Charlie. – Suzan Krieger
This month’s Community Spotlight features one of VIDC’s beloved friends: Suzan Krieger. Specifically, it’s about her article on the May-June edition of Positive Living Magazine entitled Hepatitis and Depression: A Personal Take.
Suzan is one of those courageous individuals who successfully overcame the disease and illness and wrote about it. Her article recounts her journey from when she was diagnosed to her full recovery.
Suzan’s journey is far from pleasant, her diagnosis came as a shock that led to depression, the treatment she first received felt like it would kill her before it cures her, and the medical community seemed absent in all of this. After enduring all that, she resigned to letting the virus stay and live with it.
Fortunately, that’s not where her story ends,
A few years later, I went to a workshop put on by Positive Living BC that featured Dr. Brian Conway, the medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal honoree. At the close of the workshop, I spoke with Dr. Conway and explained how I had tried and felt I had lost on my treatment. He gave me his card and with a confident voice said, “I can help.”
Suzan met Dr. Conway and got introduced to VIDC and our commitment to holistic care.
We’ve written about this commitment a couple of times in this blog (here and here), and yet Suzan’s description of the help she received at VIDC deserves its own post.
The VIDC uses open discussion about feelings—treating one with respect and dignity and providing stellar medical care in as comfortable a surrounding as possible. The team’s approach can be thought of as holistic medicine (a form of healing that considers the whole person)—body, mind, spirit, and emotions—in the quest for optimal health and wellness.
It’s one thing for a medical clinic to describe what it aims to do, it’s a whole other thing if an individual who receive that care describes it. Suzan outlines in her piece what role Dr. Conway played in her treatment.
Dr. Conway helped me find Dr. Patricia Howitt, who is now my primary physician ... [Dr.Conway] met with me and explained my new treatment and, week by week, he kept my spirits up and encouraged me that this treatment—this time—would work.
Our HCV Clinical Research Nurse, Shawn Sharma RN also got a special mention,
Shawn Sharma, a registered nurse, set up a conference call with Gilead and my healthcare insurance company, clearing the way for treatment with the new drug, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and ribavirin. The cost of the combination treatment is around $93,000 per year. Sharma also started me on a vitamin program and made himself available to me throughout the three-month treatment program.
However, VIDC isn’t just a two-man team, and Suzan saw that in action too.
The VIDC did everything from blood testing to ultrasound scans. ... VIDC’s waiting room is a wonderful, chaotic haven filled with patients waiting for their turn to be cared for. The staff provides TV, coffee, snacks, information, and support for the waiting room folk.
The reason we keep emphasizing the need and the importance of a holistic approach is precisely because of people like Suzan. Individuals who stuck with us and give us that pat on the shoulder and says “You’re doing a great job, keep it up.” Awards, acclaims, and recognition from anywhere can never compare to a simple heartfelt thank you from people whose lives you’ve touched and changed.
Suzan, thank you for letting VIDC be a part of your journey and for being such a great example to others!
If you want to read Suzan’s full article (WHY WOULDN’T YOU?) click here!
As promised, here are the photos and updates from when VIDC went out to STRUT our stuff down Sunset Beach last June 6 in support of Foundation of Hope’s (FOH) fundraising efforts for LGBTQ+ Refugees. It was a surreal experience to be part of this momentous event! The energy and the support from everyone who came out was simply overwhelming; although we don’t all fully understand the struggles of being an LGBTQ+ refugee, we all understood the importance of STRUT for them.
We got a good taste of the pain and the struggle of walking (even standing!) in heels! We got a full dose of what STRUT was all about — enduring a bit of pain to get an extremely minuscule glimpse of what LGBTQ+ refugees have to suffer.
That mile was the
L O N G E S T M I L E
our team has ever walked, especially since it was a first (walking in heels for THAT long) for a lot of us. The blisters and muscle pain we’re still feeling is a constant reminder of the privilege we have in a world that’s just all kinds of unfair.
VIDC is no stranger to working with marginalized, oppressed, and at-risk individuals, and still STRUT was quite surreal for us. It’s one thing to work closely with someone, it’s another to physically get a (very very small) taste of what they’re going through.
VIDC would very much like to thank Foundation of Hope for organizing this event and for giving us the privilege to be a part of it. We partnered with FOH and attended the event to engage the community and provide financial support to the cause; and yet it seems as though we got so much more than what we gave.
Don’t get the wrong idea though! It was a very meaningful event, but it was also FUN!
Check these photos out for proof!
We definitely got more than what we gave, thank you to everyone that came out and supported STRUT!
VIDC Connect is a community engagement initiative that stems from our mission:
Through innovative models of intervention, VIDC (Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre) particularly seeks to engage more vulnerable patients in a multi-disciplinary environment of health care. We provide peer-friendly education about disease, state-of-the-art antiviral medications (often available only within research protocols), and comprehensive support during and after treatment within an open, flexible, and community-based holistic approach. Services are provided in English, French & Arabic.
Basically? This is for YOU – for us to be able to connect with you and deliver our community-based holistic approach through a new medium: the internet!
This blog will be filled with anything and everything that we believe will be beneficial to your journey to health and wellness – news about treatments for HIV/AIDS and HCV, announcement about upcoming VIDC events, reviews and summaries of journal articles, tips and tricks on living healthy, and whatever else YOU would want to hear.
Check out our Contact Us page to get in touch with us!