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Meet Hay River’s new midwives, Toni and Heather

Hay River’s two midwives have begun their work in the community.

Toni Fehr and Heather Heinrichs say they are proud to offer expectant mothers an alternative to travelling north to Yellowknife.

Both are temporarily working from the medical clinic ahead of a move to the town’s new health centre, which is expected to open this summer.

“The feedback has been very positive. People are really happy to have the option to birth in the community again and not have to travel all the way to Yellowknife,” Heinrichs, 28, told Moose FM.

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“It’s a really great work environment and I’ve found a comfortable place to live. I’m settling in really well.”

Fehr, 58, said: “We just started providing services in December and we’re doing three days of clinic a week. We’re seeing lots of people, we’re getting busy.”

Fehr joined Hay River Health and Social Services Authority having worked in Winnipeg for the past 14 years, while Heinrichs came to the town from Toronto.

“Previously I was working in downtown Toronto at an Aboriginal midwifery clinic,” said Heinrichs.

“It’s a huge change but one that I’m really, really happy about. I’m actually from Winnipeg, I’m not from Toronto, and that city felt way too big. I’ve always wanted to work in a remote community, I’m really excited about being here.”

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Fehr told Moose FM she brings previous northern experience to her new role.

“I spent about 14 months in Rankin Inlet learning about midwifery and I’ve worked in some other communities in the North,” she said.

“The challenges of working remotely are, obviously, the long distances people need to travel at times. It’s getting used to a different system from the one we had in the south – emergency services are a little more complex, maybe, than they are in the south, in a city, but they are still very much available.”

With the advent of the new health centre, future clients can expect a dedicated facility including a built-in birth pool and exam room.

“Having focused so much on setting up the program, we’re really excited that we’re providing clinical care again,” said Heinrichs.

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