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Haines has a new Public Health nurse. Brigid O’Connor is from Montana and she’s worked in Public Health for more than 20 years.

“Really my passion as a nurse is giving people information with which they can make their own health decisions,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor says she’s done a lot of work related to infectious diseases. She says it’s something to watch out for here because of tourism.

“With the tourists coming and going, there’s a big influx of not only people, but potential germs,” O’Connor said.

Since O’Connor arrived in early September, she’s gone to Klukwan School and Haines Headstart to conduct hearing and vision screenings for young children.

“And we’re finding some need of kids to get further testing,” she said. “That they might not have known otherwise until they got into school and got the screening at school.”

O’Connor says she’s still getting a sense of the community’s needs. One thing she’s found to be different in Alaska is the focus on domestic violence prevention. O’Connor says she has to ask every patient she sees if they’ve experience domestic violence or bullying.

“If anybody answers ‘yes’ I work with them to find the right resources,” she said. “Everybody who says ‘no,’ I ask them if they know what to do if somebody did start to [act abusive.]”

O’Connor is the only Public Health nurse in the Upper Lynn Canal. Some of the main services she’ll provide are screenings, immunizations, infectious disease follow-up and family planning.

The Public Health Center operates on a sliding scale fee depending on what the patient can afford.

O’Connor says it’s best to call in advance to set up a visit. The number is 766-3300.