Physician brings practice to Prince Edward Island aboriginal community

Jim Day
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Dr. Megan Armstrong has just moved into her new office in the Sherwood Medical Centre. She will spend every Wednesday in Scotchfort seeing Aboriginal patients at the Abegweit First Nation Mi'kmaq Health Centre.

Dr. Megan Armstrong is making house calls of sorts to reach aboriginal patients.

The 28-year-old Charlottetown doctor is bringing her family practice every Wednesday to the Abegweit First Nation Mi’kmaq Health Centre in Scotchfort.

Armstrong welcomes the opportunity to leave her practice at the Stratford Medical Clinic once a week to see aboriginal patients on their reserve.

“I love it,’’ she says. “For me, it breaks up the week. Staff at the health centre out there are just fantastic.’’

Noting diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are big health issues within the aboriginal community, Armstrong says part of her job is to promote a healthy lifestyle and provide intervention. However, she is quick to note that she wants to work with, rather than preach to, her Aboriginal patients.

“My plan is really not to go out there and make Abegweit what I want it to be but to find out what they want it to be — (determine) what services they want,’’ she says.

Chief Brian Francis says the key goal is simply to provide health services to members of the Abegweit First Nation in a convenient manner. He says Armstrong “tops off’’ the health centre in Scotchfort that he describes as strong and vibrant.

“She wanted to partner with us,’’ he says. “She is there to make a difference.’’

Francis says the band council and health centre staff worked hard the past couple of years to attract a doctor on reserve to help address the ongoing health care challenges facing the community.

He echoed Armstrong’s assessment that diabetes and heart disease are major health concerns for his people.

“One of the key priorities we have been working on was attracting a doctor to our community to better serve the needs of our citizens,’’ says Francis.

He says over the past couple of years Abegweit First Nation worked to secure accreditation for its health care centre and forged a solid working relationship with the Government of Prince Edward Island. Those were the keys, he notes, to paving the way for the arrival of Armstrong.

“Dr. Armstrong practises a heartfelt, collaborative approach to family medicine that will be appreciated and respected within our community,’’ says Francis.

“We are very proud to welcome her to Abegweit.’’

Armstrong completed her medical degree in Newfoundland at Memorial University. She completed her family medicine training in P.E.I. through Dalhousie University.

Originally from Ontario, Armstrong has spent much of her life in Prince Edward Island. She returned to P.E.I. two years ago to complete her residency.

Organizations: Abegweit First Nation Mi, Health Centre, Stratford Medical Clinic

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Scotchfort Newfoundland Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Gjmm
    February 05, 2014 - 21:28

    I Met Dr Armstrong about two years ago And the Care provided Was Amazing! I appreciate Her Need to Diagnose And not Just Treat an Unknown Illness I wish She was Still Around My Doctors office Very careing ,Compassionate And knows how to listen!

  • liberal
    February 05, 2014 - 20:35

    It is so refreshing to see racism is still going strong. Thank you my friends for showing your true colors and winning a bet for me. You are true examples of what i raise my kids they the be, ignorant, selfish, racist cry babies...pat yourselves on the back my fellow deserve it, you truly do.....(by the way...this years clan meeting will be in Charlottetown...hope to see you there!)

  • Missy Smith
    February 05, 2014 - 13:15

    Wow....I am a white gal who lived among the community. members...and love and respected many of them ....this first nation community put a lot of work into make the community what it is today...with the hatchery etc....and believe me there is no gravy train...sure they get funding from the government ...but so do us white folk...I see no issue with them havig a doctor in their medical center...many of the elders do not have transporation as well as many moms with small childreen don't ...I think this awesome for the community. and love and respect to all my native friends and former community members

  • Patient
    February 05, 2014 - 12:50

    I cant wait for a home visit!

  • Sheena Bernard
    February 05, 2014 - 12:31

    Love Our New Docter She's So Nice, Glad Our Community Is Moving Forward Together For The Positive.. ..

  • Haha
    February 05, 2014 - 11:26

    I'm an aboriginal I'm not on the gravy train and I don't have a car .. Don't have a doctor I haven't had a check up since 2005 . I pay taxes , I work , I wouldn't exactly call it a gravy train . Living on a reserve most would live somewhere else if they could .

  • Melissa
    February 05, 2014 - 11:18

    Just as every other community in pei has a accredited health centre facility, they have doctors. What good would this centre be without a doctor? I know they worked hard on getting their accreditation during these past few years and kudos to them for accomplishing that. There was a time and point when there was very limited services avaliable by this health centre, now look what they have achieved. We actually do pay taxes now an you'd be surprised by the lack of employment and skills avaliable on revere and the barriers that mikmaq people still face, especially when it comes to racism and discrimination. There is no difference in the needs and wants just because of this aboriginal community's race. Not every person in that community needs a family doctor but it is avaliable as a walk in clinic on a week. Just like one is avaliable in many communities across Prince Edward Island. I'm not even sure why I'm explaining myself. I can't change how a racist, jealous person feels by one paragraph. :)

  • I need a doctor too!
    February 05, 2014 - 10:15

    This is ridiculous. The aboriginal population in this part of Canada is part of the 'first world'. They all have cars and all the first world amenities. Why do they feel that they need 'specialized' health care. I know what I'm talking about. I work delivering health care in Canada's north on remote, fly in reserves with Aboriginal people. Those people live in third world conditions. PEI Aboriginals are on the gravy train from the Federal Government with all the tax relief and benefits. Why are they any different than any other Islander? They are not. We suffer from diabetes, heart disease and all the other first world illnesses. Drive your tax free gassed cars to the clinic in Sherwood just like anyone else would. You're as far as Mount Stewart. Can people from Mt. Stewart go to the clinic in Scotchfort? Likely not...they'd have to drive to see Dr. Armstrong in her clinic in Sherwood! More entitlement and wasted tax dollars.

  • Islander
    February 05, 2014 - 09:05

    How is this not descrimination? I can't easily get in to see my doctor and I pay taxes. Could I not go to the reserve to get checked out??

  • sammy
    February 05, 2014 - 07:26

    Hey .. I live in West Royalty and can;t easily get in to see my doctor. Can I get a doctor to come out and see me... NOT... come on.. what next... francophones how about u.. u want one too