Bios for Evanna Brennan RN and Susan Giles RN
Evanna and Susan have worked together as home care
nurses in Vancouver’s troubled Downtown East side for the past 25 years.
They continue to be at the forefront of the struggle to contain the AIDS
epidemic that began there in the mid 1990s.
For the last two decades they have been working on perfecting their model
of care delivery, Action Based Care, or ABC, that supports marginalized patients
living and dying with HIV disease in a chaotic street environment. Their work
is tracked on this website; they have published numerous papers describing their
experiences and sharing their accumulating expertise.
In 2009, the Registered Nurses of BC gave a (first time ever) dual Award of
Distinction in Nursing to Evanna and Susan, making them 2009 co-recipients.
Earlier awards they have received include the Jill Sullivan Award, the 2007
AccolAIDS award and others. They have presented at Canac many times and have
been accepted as presenters at the International Conference on HIV/AIDS twice.
They continue to provide guided experiences for visiting healthcare students from
BC, Canada and as far away as Japan.
Susan Giles RN, is a native of Vancouver, BC. For the past twenty-five
years she has teamed with colleague Evanna Brennan to deliver home care nursing
services to a population of marginalized people struggling with drug addiction
and HIV/AIDS. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS
Care. In 1999 she was co-recipient (with Evanna Brennan) of CANAC’s
Sullivan Award of Excellence in HIV/AIDS Nursing.
A native of County Dublin, Ireland, Evanna Brennan RN, took her training in
Temple Street Children's Hospital, Dublin & St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin.
She has worked as a home care nurse with her
teammate Susan Giles for the last twenty-five years as they have addressed the needs of the
residents of the challenging area of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
In 1997 she was chosen as one of thirty-three nurses across Canada for the
Canadian HIV/AIDS Nursing Mentorship program funded by Health Canada. In this
role she educated and supported nurses from across the country who were
grappling with the complexities of caring for an increasingly multi-diagnosed (IVDU,
HIV/AIDS, mental illness) population. She is a long-standing member of the
Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. In 1999 she was co-recipient (with
Susan Giles) of CANAC’s Jill Sullivan Award of Excellence in HIV/AIDS
In the mid 1990s, as the HIV epidemic began in Vancouver’s Downtown
Eastside, Susan and Evanna began receiving referrals to provide home care
nursing services to a chaotic, street involved clientele living and dying with
HIV/AIDS. They consulted and collaborated with inner city nurses in San
Francisco, Amsterdam and Montreal. Combined with gritty field experience, they developed a model "Action Based
Care" that defines principles and approaches to providing effective,
ethical nursing care to such a population with a goal of removing barriers to
care. They have field-taught student nurses from UBC; community health nurses
from across Canada, and HIV nurse clinicians from Japan.
They have shared their approaches and experiences locally with staff at the
health board, AIDS Vancouver, Providence and Vancouver General hospitals, and at
BC AIDS conferences. They have presented to national and international
conferences including XII International Conference on HIV/AIDS 1996, Canadian
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care 1998-2002, Canadian HIV/AIDS Skillsbuilding
1999, 2001, Canadian Palliative Care 2002, American Association of Nurses in
AIDS Care 2002.
They have published in the Canadian
Nurse, January 2001, "Home" Nursing Care of HIV Positive Clients
in the Urban Core."
They participated in the instructional video, "IV Positive : an
educational documentary about living positive" from Crossroads
Their work has been profiled in Nursing
BC, 1996 and Crosscurrents:
Journal of Addiction and Mental Health, 2002, as well as CBC radio and
television, CKNW, BCIT News on Rogers Cable.
Professional Qualifications and Memberships
- 1973-present: Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia/College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia.
- 1996-present: member Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.
- For CANAC/ACIIS: Considered widely recognized role models for CANAC, Susan Giles and Evanna Brennan were shown for years, without any explanation required, as the cover page for the CANAC/ACIIS website.
Awards for teaching, scholarship, and service
- Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Jill Sullivan Award of Excellence in Clinical Practice, co-recipients Susan Giles and Evanna Brennan, Winnipeg, 1999.
- BC Persons with AIDS Society Accolaids Award for Harm Reduction and Health Promotion, co- recipients Evanna Brennan and Susan Giles, Vancouver, BC, 2003.
- In 2009, the Registered Nurses of BC gave a (first time ever) dual Award of Distinction in Nursing to Evanna and Susan, making them 2009 co-recipients.
Articles about our work
- Griffiths, H (1996) Nursing in the Urban Core. Nursing BC, November-December,1996, pp14-16.
- Zbogar, H (2002) A Nurse is a Nurse is a…? A Showcase of Nursing Skill and Accomplishment. Crosscurrents: The Journal of Addiction and Mental Health, Winter 2002, Vol. 6.
- O’Brien, V (2005) Trauma Junkies. BC Business, July 2005, pp69-79.
- Fisk, Stuart (1998) The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Position Paper on Harm Reduction and HIV Care for Drug Users: Integrating Harm-Reduction Methods and HIV Care. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, May/June 1998, Vol. 9, no.3, pp19-24.
- Giles S and Brennan E (July 1996). Nursing Close to the Street: Home Care Nursing in Vancouver’s Urban Core. Educational pamphlet widely distributed at presentations to health board staff and external agencies. Self-published.
- Giles, S and Brennan, E (January 2001) “Home” Nursing of HIV-Positive Clients in the Urban Core. Canadian Nurse Vol. 97, no.1, p.33.
Presentations: summary 1995-2007, 33
Total: Local 21 International 2 National 9
- July 7-12, 1996. 11th International Conference on HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, British Columbia, [poster presentation]
- May 21-24, 1997. 3rd International Conference on Home and Community Care for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS: "Meeting the Needs of the Infected and Affected": Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- April 2-4, 1998. CANAC 1998 Conference, "Renaissance: Caring in Learning to Live Again".
- Nov 21, 1998. BC AIDS Conference Workshop "Living and Dying in the Downtown Eastside" Title of presentation "Palliative Care: Whose Choice?".
- March 4, 1999. Drugs, HIV & Poverty : end of life issues for IVDU’s North Health Unit [presentation to Health Unit]
- April 21-24, 1999. CANAC 1999 Conference, "Dying With Your Boots On"—A New Strategy From Those Who Nurse the Urban Poor on the Streets" Crowne Plaza, Winnipeg,
- May 12, 1999. "Dying With Your Boots On": Strategies for Care and Treatment of HIV+ Injection Drug Users Coquitlam Executive Inn.
- October 20, 1999. "Dying With Your Boots On" Strategies for Care and Treatment of HIV+ Injection Drug Users G.F. Strong Auditorium Wednesday, [presentation to Health Unit]
- Nov. 12-15, 1999. 2nd HIV/AIDS Skillsbuilding Symposium Winnipeg "Dying With Your Boots On: Strategies for Care and Treatment of HIV+ Injection Drug Users".
- April 27-29, 2000. 8th Annual Conference, CANAC Toronto, [HIV Nursing for a New Millennium: Learning from our Past, Preparing for our Future], "These Boots Are Still Walking": Life After ARV’s in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
- May 25, 2000. G.F. Strong "These Boots Are Still Walking": Life After ARV’s in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside [presentation to Health Unit]
- January 25, 2001. "These Boots Kick Butt : Life After ARV’s in the Downtown Eastside" Video Presentation and Talk By Evanna Brennan and Susan Giles, P.A.R.C. Building 1107 Seymour.
- March 22-24, 2001. 10th Annual Opening Doors Conference Sudbury, "These Boots Are Still Walking: Life After ARV’s in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside".
- April 5-7, 2001. 9th Annual Conference [HIV/AIDS Integrated Care for Enhanced Life] Québec Hilton Québec (Québec) "Clinic in a Corner": Addressing the needs of transient HIV+ IVDU’s at an urban inner city shelter.
- July 6-9, 2001. 3rd Canadian HIV/AIDS Skillsbuilding Symposium, Montréal, Québec "Re-examining Practice": Ethical Principles to Guide the Delivery of Home Care Nursing to HIV+ Injection Drug Users.
- October 21-24, 2001. Canadian Palliative Care Association Conference, Victoria, BC "Dying With Your Boots On": Strategies for Care and Treatment of HIV+ Injection Drug Users.
- November 27-28, 2001. Current Issues in HIV Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba "Re-examining Practice": Ethical Principles to Guide the Delivery of Home Care Nursing to HIV+ Injection Drug Users.
- April 14 – 17, 2002. 10th Annual Conference, [Social Justice: The Essence of HIV/AIDS Nursing] CANAC/ACIIS Coast Plaza Hotel at Stanley Park, 1763 Comox Street, Vancouver, BC.
- November 7-10, 2002. 15th Annual Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Conference, Hyatt Regency Embarcadero San Francisco, CA "Walking in Their Boots": Experiences of an Outreach Team in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
- April, 2003. 2nd AccolAIDS Awards Presentation 2003, Vancouver, BC Acceptance speech: "An Honor And A Challenge".
- June 21,2003. Nutrition And HIV Conference, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC "Dying With Your Boots On": Strategies for Care and Treatment of HIV+ Injection Drug Users.
- November 2003. 4th Canadian HIV/AIDS Skillsbuilding Symposium, [ Canadian AIDS Society] Calgary, Alberta. Presentation 1: "Clinic In A Corner:Lookout" Presentation 2:"Clinic In A Corner: WISH".
- April 2004. 8th Annual Conference, CANAC 2004, Toronto, Ontario. Presentation 1:"Fuzeon Delivery In A Challenging Environment" Presentation 2:"Clinic In A Corner:WISH".
- June 2004. Presentation to North Unit, CHC, VCHA, Vancouver, BC. "Dying With Your Boots On": Strategies for Care and Treatment of HIV+ Injection Drug Users.
- November 2004-2007. Presentation to Palliative Care Class with Jane McCall, Vancouver Community College, Vancouver BC “Meeting the Challenge, Dying with Your Boots On”.
- April 2004. Presentation to North Shore Home Health, VCHA, North Vancouver, BC “Dying with Your Boots On”.
- July 2004. Presentation to Cordova Detox, VCHA, Vancouver, BC. “Dying with Your Boots On”.
- September 30, 2005. Northern Health 2nd Bi –Annual Palliative Care Conference, Prince George, BC. Presentation “Action Based Care: End of Life Issues in a Street Involved Multidiagnosed Population”.
- October 2005. 5th Canadian HIV/AIDS Skills Building Symposium (Canadian AIDS Society) Montreal, Quebec. Presentation: “Action Based Care- End of Life Issues in a Street Involved Multidiagnosed Population”.
- April 2006. Nursing Harm Reduction Conference, Vancouver BC (Hear and Now, Harm Reduction in Nursing Practice), Vancouver, BC. Presentation: “Feeding the Revolving Door, Nursing Outreach to Marginalized AIDS Patients”.
- August 12, 2006. XVI International AIDS Conference, International Nurses Forum (Nurses at the Forefront of HIV/AIDS for Prevention, Care and Treatment), Toronto, Ontario. Discussant: Harm Reduction in Nursing Practice.
- August 18, 2006. XII International AIDS Conference (Time to Deliver), Toronto, Ontario. Poster presentation: Nursing Outreach to Marginalized AIDS Patients.
- April 14-17, 2007. 15th Annual Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (HIV/AIDS Nursing, a Global Perspective, a Local Response), Vancouver, BC. Presentation: Feeding the Revolving Door, Nursing Outreach to Marginalized AIDS Patients.
- April 2009. CANAC, Saskatoon, "In it for the Long Haul: Maintaining Clients on Long-term Therapy isn't so simple, Even in th Era of Simplified HAART"
- Nov. 2010. ANAC, Reno, Nevada. "In it for the Long Haul: "Maintaining Clients on Long-term Therapy isn't so Simple, Even in the Era of Simplified HAART"
- March 2011. CANAC, Montreal Quebec "Nursing the Need-- the Ethics of Supporting ARV Adherence in Street Involved HIV+ Populations"
Professional Activities and Community Service: Summary 1994-2008, 14+
- 1995. DTES Housing Committee- member- developed plans with other stakeholders that resulted in Bridge Housing for Women.
- 1994-1996. St Paul’s Hospital HIV/AIDS Social Worker and Community Health Care Providers Liaison Committee -member: meetings with hospital and community stakeholders to foster continuity of care of patients with complex health and social needs.
- c. 1994. St Paul’s Hospital Emergency Department Committee member: developed a co-coordinated response to “frequent flyer” patients to emergency department at local inner city hospital.
- 2000. St Paul’s Hospital-Home IV Program Committee member: developed protocols for administering IV antibiotics to injection drug users in a safe environment in Downtown Eastside with goal of increasing adherence to course of IV therapy.
- 1998. Downtown Eastside Youth Activities (DEYAS)-Health Van Committee advisory committee member: advocated for mobile health van to meet need for after hours care in Downtown Eastside.
- 1997-2001. Women Information Safe House (WISH)-Drop in for street sex trade workers; provided weekly Clinic in a Corner
- 1998. Brown Bag Monthly Meetings founding member: meeting of health care workers from differing agencies in DTES with purpose of sharing information and raising awareness of common issues.
- 1995-1997. AIDS Vancouver Housing Committee member: worked to advocate for supportive housing for marginalized populations.
- 1996-1998. Positive Women’s Network Committee member: worked to advocate for accessible women’s HIV support for marginalized women.
- 1996-1999. St. James Community Service Society-Hospice Patient Care Committee member: worked to develop protocols for acceptance of marginalized AIDS patients into residential hospice in Downtown Eastside community.
- 2001. VCHA Community-Based Residential Hospice Review Committee member: worked to establish five beds in subsidized housing buildings within the Downtown Eastside for end stage AIDS patients who were homeless, allowing them to live their last days in dignity, comfort and still maintain their life style.
- 2001-Present. Downtown South Community Health Clinic committee member: first clinic in Downtown South area to focus on street involved HIV patients and have a gay positive mandate.
- 2001-Present . Japanese Nurses partnership program between BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Japanese HIV Hospitals and Clinics. Mentored visiting nurses regarding nursing care to marginalized injection drug using AIDS patients.
- 2001-Present. presentation to class annually and in the field for HIV course Irene Goldstone teaches – an undergraduate HIV/AIDS nursing elective (N443) and undergraduate inter-professional elective (IHHS 402) in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care through the College of Health Disciplines, University of British Columbia.
- 2003-2005. Palliative Care Certificate Course, Vancouver Community College, Vancouver, BC. Teaching presentation to class on palliative care to marginalized multi diagnosed patients with AIDS.
- 1996-Present. Short-term mentoring / day-mentoring with many health professionals and students over the years e.g. UBC medical students, nursing students, visiting physicians, pharmacists, nurses from all over the world.
Contributions to Professional and Public Education
- Website: email@example.com, 1996-present: Developed a website to share information regarding our nursing practice in Downtown Eastside and share articles relating to this area of nursing care.
- Video: “IV Positive: an Educational Documentary about Living Positive”, Crossroads Productions, Vancouver BC, 1999: On advisory committee and demonstrated safer injecting techniques.
- News report: aired on CKVU in Vancouver, BC April, 1997- interviewed and demonstrated challenges and conditions of injection drug users living and dying with AIDS at height of epidemic in Downtown Eastside.
- Radio feature: by Carma Livingstone, CBC Radio. Won a broadcaster award for reporter.
- Radio interviews with Rick Cluff, CBC Early Edition Show, Catherine Gretzinger, CBC,
- Fanny Kiefer, CKNW, November 1996, and interviewed for Co-op Radio. Subject matter: Harm Reduction model of care to marginalized AIDS patients.
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