It’s been a long time coming, but here it is — updates (and of course, PHOTOS) from PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015
As previously mentioned, VIDC is proud to have been part of this year’s PRIDE FESTIVAL. We’ve been in the community for so long, it was only a matter of time before this happened — and now is the time!
PRIDE is a time to celebrate acceptance and to stand up against discrimination — and since HCV and HIV/AIDS do not discriminate, we wanted to be present at the festival to promote awareness about these diseases and the treatments available.
It was a very interesting and informative day for us as we got to see other organizations who support PRIDE, the initiatives they are involved with, and the health programs they have for the community. It was a great reminder that although HIV and HCV are negatively affecting a lot of people, there are also a lot of people working together to help those affected.
It was also very encouraging how receptive people were to the information. Festival goers were generally very inquisitive, and it was our great pleasure and delight to educate them about the diseases (HIV and HCV) and the treatments available.
We focused mainly on providing information on Hepatitis C. Why? Because we feel like the awareness of HCV isn’t as widespread as HIV; also, at PRIDE, there were a number of organizations with information booths spreading awareness for HIV already. We tried to fill in the gap where we saw fit. Hepatitis C is a serious disease, and we want people to know that they should get tested and that treatments are available!
The VIDC team had different shifts in staffing the booth. We wanted to make sure we got the chance to enjoy the festival while also ensuring that we always had a medical professional to address people’s questions and concerns. We had all three of our nurses, a couple of our research coordinators, assistants, and volunteers present on-site at various times of the day — all ready and equipped to spread the good word that HCV is now curable and people should get tested.
We clearly had a lot of fun at! And we look forward to being a part of the PRIDE FESTIVAL again next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a float for the PARADE too!
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!
As part of our commitment to a holistic approach to medicine and to spreading awareness and education, we close our clinic doors (almost) every Friday afternoon. Yes, we stop clinic operations — or at least those that require the doctor to be present – to pursue our commitment!
On Friday afternoons, the VIDC team can be found on different locations in the Downtown East Side (DTES) holding our Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC). We can be found at various drop-in centres, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens in and around the DTES. At these CPCs, we register anyone and everyone interested in getting tested for HIV and HCV. The goal of is to bring awareness and to engage patients who would otherwise not have access to diagnosis, treatment, and/or care.
The clinic is set up such that from the very beginning, engagement is the main goal. Our team of research assistants and coordinators are on the front line doing registration. We talk to anyone and everyone who shows interest and explain to them how the tests work, help them with registration, and direct them as necessary. Following that, our HCV Nurse, Yashna Bhutani, takes over. She sets up the clinic part of our CPCs. She will have her own room – or corner, whichever is available – and does the testing. We use OraQuick® Tests for HIV and HCV. Basically? Yashna just needs to swab the insides of their cheeks – no blood involved – and the results come out in about 10-15 minutes. The test checks for the presence of antibodies, your body’s response to infection. If the test comes out positive — which indicates that your body has fought or is fighting either HIV or HCV — then we recommend more thorough blood tests. (To find out more about how OraQuick® works, click here.)
The final part of the process involves the revelation of the results. If anyone tests positive for either HIV or HCV, Dr. Brian Conway is right there to provide immediate specialist consultation. Additionally, our HCV Research Nurses, Shawn and Yashna, would also have counseling sessions with these patients. Often these patients are unaware of their infection — let alone the treatment options and care available for people dealing with Hepatitis C. This is why it is very important to have Dr. Conway, Shawn, and Yashna available at the site to provide counseling, support, and consultation for these people. Sometimes hearing the news — both the good and the bad — from someone well equipped to help is all they need to have hope and feel better.
The idea with the rapid tests is for individuals who do not need extensive (and sometimes expensive) blood work done to not have to do it. If the test for antibodies is negative, why else would you need further confirmatory tests? The hassle in getting a doctor to sign off on a lab requisition form, the trouble of going to the lab to get your blood drawn, the long wait at laboratories, and the agony of waiting for your results — these are the things we try to eliminate through our Community Pop-Up Clinics. Basically, our CPCs are geared towards lessening inconvenience, hassle, stress, and fear involved with getting tested – the goal is to make it as simple and accessible as possible to get as many people tested and engaged as possible.
The main goal of our CPCs: There is a problem, there is cure available, let’s get the word out and stop the spread of these diseases.