The Wellness Worker will be responsible for providing support services to all Hostel guests, clients, Accommodation Clerks, and elders. You will be responsible to provide direct assistance to the clients and escorts, provide translation and any other services when required.
Diabetes has been identified as a high priority health issue impacting First Nations communities in the Sioux Lookout Zone. The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) and the University of Toronto (U of T), have formed a partnership to improve community-based diabetes prevention, management, and care. A core element of our initiative is to enhance and expand a customized capacity building program for community health workers (CHWs), based on Canadian clinical guidelines, international best practices and local knowledge.
The Transportation Driver/interpreter will be responsible for providing ground transportation of hostel clients and escorts from the First Nations communities approved by NIHB within an 8 km radius of Sioux Lookout. The Driver/Interpreter will provide general outreach and interpret for clients as well as perform routine maintenance and upkeep of the passenger vans.
I am writing to provide an update on the positive case of COVID-19 with a health care provider (HCP) at the Northern Clinic in Sioux Lookout. This person is doing well and self-isolating at home. As previously mentioned because of meticulous use of personal protective equipment and workplace protocols, all exposures have been determined to be low risk. This situation did not require formal contact tracing as required by Ontario Health Guidelines. Nonetheless, because of the central importance of the Northern Clinic to many of our communities and the generous application of the precautionary principle, the Approaches to Community Wellbeing Preventing Infectious Diseases (ACW-PID) team assessed the situation and determined that all who had low risk contact with the HCP should be offered testing. In collaboration with the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) we have identified 18 individuals. Most come from the communities and are being contacted by the ACW-PID. Those who live in Sioux Lookout are being contacted by the NWHU. To date, all test results have been negative.
In addition, as a workplace safety and health measure, all clinic staff are being offered testing. To date, all test results have been negative.
I would also like to speak to you on the importance of wearing a mask/face covering. Please view the “Messages Around Wearing a Mask is Changing” please follow the links provided here:
Previously, masks were not seen as important as they are now. Masks are helpful in numerous situations when you cannot physically distance yourself whether it be at the store, appointments etc. It is important to be prepared to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. The messages are changing because the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is making masks mandatory on August 17, 2020 in all enclosed public spaces.
NWHU has posted more information about this requirement to its website at nwhu.on.ca/covid19/Pages/masks. Please view a demonstration of how to put on and take off masks here. This item is of particular relevance as community members begin to do more travel from communities. It will be important that members are prepared for the requirement to wear face coverings in certain settings and have the required equipment and training.
On August 3, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) was notified that a symptomatic health care professional working out of the Northern Clinic in Sioux Lookout tested positive for Covid-19. This person was in Sioux Lookout for a period of two weeks for work and has since returned to their residence outside of the region. As with all health care professionals entering the region, this individual was required to self-monitored for two weeks prior to arrival.
The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is managing the case and has assessed the situation as being low risk. The individual had no contacts outside of work and wore appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during all encounters with patients and staff while at the Northern Clinic. The NWHU has therefore determined that there were no high-risk exposures and, therefore, no contacts that require to be traced.
However, given the heightened concern in communities and the on-going vulnerability of our population, SLFNHA is acting out of an abundance of caution and has put a plan in place that is aggressive and thorough. This includes the following:
- Any patients who were at the clinic from the period between July 20 – July 31 who are experiencing any symptoms should present themselves for assessment as soon as possible.
- Commencing tomorrow, Aug 4th, 2020, The Preventing Infectious Team from SLFNHA will contact all patients who were seen by this individual to recommend testing and self- monitoring.
- A deep clean of the clinic will take place on Tuesday morning, August 4th, 2020.
- Virtual appointments will continue to be done wherever possible.
- All staff working at the clinic within the last two weeks will be offered testing and will be required to self-monitor. If they have symptoms they will be required to stay home and get assessed as soon as possible.
- Protocols to protect patients are being reviewed and reinforced with all clinic staff More information will follow as the situation develops.
I am writing to inform you that we have been notified by the Northwestern Health Unit that a resident of Sioux Lookout has tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing is being carried out and no contacts in SLFNHA communities have been identified. The case is being managed by the Northwestern Health Unit.
We are recommending that the normal public health measures are continued. These include:
- Social Distancing
- Hand Washing
- Wearing masks when social distancing is not possible
- Adherence to travel restrictions required by community leadership
We are committed to providing communities with fast, reliable and accurate information. For the most up to date information, please visit our website slfnha.com where we post video, audio and written updates. We also update our dashboard page by 2:00 pm, Monday-Friday with case numbers (updates will also be occurring on the weekend when the need arises).
It is almost 2 weeks since I have taken over from Dr Bocking as the lead of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) COVID Regional Response Team (CRRT). I wanted to share with you some thoughts about how we might approach the challenges faced by those who live in the communities that we serve.
In one way or another, we are all affected by this new and unwelcome threat to our health and well-being. Throughout the region, organizations and communities have been working hard to keep the communities safe. We have seen remarkable strength and dedication. However, we have a long way to go and we must keep working together to overcome this threat. I would like to outline three strategies that may help address some of the challenges we face.
LIVING WITH COVID
It has been 19 weeks since we have been living in the shadow of a global pandemic. We have watched with mounting concern as it has swept across the world causing disease, death and disruption. This is a new virus, but it has relatives with which we are all familiar, such as the common cold. We are learning more about the virus but there is much more to learn. Big questions still remain unanswered.
The virus has made its way into our region. In the past few weeks we have had our first incidence of transmission in one of our communities and a cluster of cases in Meno Ya Win Health Centre. Thankfully, to date, it has not caused any illness and spread seems to have been minimal. It is clear that we are living in a world where the presence of COVID is the new normal as it is not likely to go away in the near term. We will have to live with it as we do with many other viruses, but we can minimize the harm that it can do to us and our loved ones.
We can do this by focusing on what we can do and what we must do to keep our families and communities safe while we get back to doing the things that make our communities work. The recommended public health measures that you have heard repeated so often are as useful as they have ever been. We must remain vigilant. In addition, we know that face covering can help in situations where physical distancing is not possible or is difficult.
This is a new journey, we will have to continue to walk it together safely. Public health advice will guide us and public health measures will help us. It is through our collective resilience that we will continue to change and continue to adapt as we go forward, as circumstances change and as we learn more. The CRRT will continue to work to make sure that the well-being of the communities is at the center of our thinking, advice and efforts.
BE PREPARED – BE STRATEGIC
The CRRT has been engaging with communities to support them in their preparedness and to develop their own Incident Management Systems (IMS). Although the CRRT is providing tools, resources and training in emergency management, the systems at the community level are based on the unique structures of each community and are designed by the community. In many cases, communities are using their existing structures and ways of making decisions. These structures are based on traditions of supporting each other and in responding to various crises over the years. These emergency structures have worked extremely well in several communities and have been essential in achieving satisfactory outcomes.
Despite the ongoing efforts, the level of preparation in communities is not uniform. We will continue to support communities as they draw on their strengths to increase their emergency preparedness. We have recently formed a task group to help communities improve emergency preparedness and develop a coordinated incident management structure that has common elements and the capacity to deal with emergencies in a way that respects the unique needs and wishes of each community.
Each one of us can be prepared. Learn about the virus and its symptoms. If you have any symptoms or concerns that you have been exposed, self-isolate and call the nursing station so that you can be assessed. Your local COVID response team, increasingly, is a resource you can call on for help and information. For those who use the internet, the SLFNHA website slfnha.com is a reliable source of information with tools, resources and updates.
SAFE PATHWAYS TO AND FROM CARE
While we have been focused on preventing the spread of COVID, other threats to our health have not been silent. Our communities carry an unfair burden of illness from many causes. There were significant challenges in getting adequate care for community members prior to the pandemic. Now, the number of community members who have unmet urgent health needs continues to grow.
Travel restrictions have meant that access to care has, in too many cases, been reduced or reserved for emergencies. Yet the needs for care have not changed. In fact, there are real concerns that the current stress caused by the pandemic has not been good for our collective mental health and has forced us to have less care for other equally important conditions.
Throughout this pandemic, SLFNHA has been working with its partners and with each community to safely bring essential services into the communities while also respecting the direction and individual strategies of each community. As we enter into a new normal and increase access to services we are developing safe pathways to and from care. This will allow community members meet their individual needs while continuing to ensure that the firewalls that protect communities are maintained.
This is not going to be an easy task as the leadership of communities balance the risk of COVID against the risk of not getting needed care. This will be a dynamic process that will change as the risk of COVID in our health care hubs waxes and wanes. The CRRT will be working with the many elements that make up the pathway. One of the more challenging pieces will be to have adequate capacity for isolation in and outside the communities. This is currently being addressed as a high priority.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that exists throughout the region. Our greatest asset during these times is the strength, wisdom and traditions that come from communities as they work to protect the health and safety of their people. The CRRT continues to work alongside communities as we learn from the past and walk together through this new journey.
Dr. John Guilfoyle, MB BCh BAO FCFP
Public Health Physician
False vacancy announcements, job postings or solicitations are being circulated on the internet in the name of Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority (SLFNHA). These false job postings are being used to try and obtain confidential and personal information from applicants, or convince applicants to pay money for services related to recruitment or training in the name of SLFNHA.
- All our SLFNHA real job openings are posted/listed on the SLFNHA website’s Career page. Do NOT apply for a job or respond to any other announcement unless you see the posting on SLFNHA’s website.
- SLFNHA does not claim or charge any fee for recruiting or facilitating recruitment processes. If you are asked to pay any money as part of a recruitment process, please do NOT pay any money.
- SLFNHA does not ask applicants to submit confidential or personal information as part of the application process. If you are requested to submit confidential information such as SIN numbers, bank account information or other financial information, please do not submit such information.
If you are requested to provide anything that seems unusual to a recruiter or during the job applicant process, please contact the SLFNHA Human Resources Department prior to providing the information.
Further, if you have any questions or doubt about the legitimacy of any email, mail or telephone messages/calls allegedly from, for, or on behalf of SLFNHA, then please send us an email query before taking any further action concerning the communication or messages, received.
Case and contact tracing in our communities
No new cases in our communities for 14 days Contact tracing and follow up is complete in Eabamatoong First Nation and Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation are complete. No further cases.
The recent case in Sachigo Lake First Nation has resolved. Contact tracing and follow up is complete. All cases are now resolved, with no illness and only one incident of in-community transmission.
The case in a construction worker in Pikangkum First Nation is out of the community, contact tracing and follow up was handed over to the North Western Health Unit (NWHU). All cases, except for one, have had no symptoms.
Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC)
The contact tracing and follow up of the six asymptomatic cases in staff at SLMHC has been completed. In addition, there was widespread surveillance of the hospital staff and patients, no new cases detected or evidence of spread from the six cases. Further study of this incident is planned to see if we can solve the puzzle that this incident continues to pose. This will be led by Dr Schreiber, infectious disease specialist, with help from SLFNHA and NWHU.
Caution is still needed when traveling to and from the communities. Physical distancing needs to be followed. Face coverings are recommended where this is not possible. Communities continue to require isolation on return. The implication of this community directed policy is that all community members returning from areas with COVID-19 activity are regarded as positive, regardless of test results etc. Fourteen days continues to the recommended length from entry into the community. This is a very cautious and conservative policy and is designed to minimize the likelihood of the virus being brought back to the community. As a consequence, testing is not required prior to return to the communities. It may be done as part of surveillance or at the patient’s request but there is no requirement to wait for a result prior to return home. Of course, it must be emphasized that those with symptoms or close contacts to a case should self-isolate and avoid travel until they have been assessed.
Testing people without symptoms/close contact with a case gives us information that is used to answer certain questions. This is called surveillance, it was used widely in Sioux Lookout in the investigation of the recent incident. Hospital staff, hostel staff, patients in the hospital, patients coming from the communities were offered testing. This surveillance will continue but not as widely and will continue to be used to monitor the situation. Further guidance on surveillance testing is available in our document “Sioux Lookout First Nations COVID-19 Testing Strategy, updated June 02, 2020.
In anticipation of the upcoming flu season, we will be recommending immunization as soon as it is available. This should help reduce the numbers with respiratory symptoms and make is easier to manage COVID-19.
Government of Canada supports Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Mental Health and Addictions Program for Northern Ontario First Nations.
July 09, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
Community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely mental health supports are critical to promote the well-being for anyone struggling to cope with the added stress and anxiety the COVID-19 pandemic has created. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for counselling and mental wellness support was already trending upward and innovative solutions are particularly needed now.Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced $2,657,560 to support the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Mental Health and Addictions Pandemic Response Program, a unique First Nation-led initiative responding to the specific health needs of community members in northern Ontario. It will identify the mental health and wellness services that are already available, and bridge the existing gaps so that every individual can have access to culturally safe and community based mental health services when needed.
Building upon federal investments made since 2017 in mental wellness, including Mental Wellness Teams and the Choose Life Initiative, this initiative will coordinate the services from the different regional providers, and offer a simple process for individuals using their services.
Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) eHealth and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) will run the program, which is designed to provide community members with equal access to high-quality, culturally safe substance use treatment and mental health services with direct input from communities. The services will be coordinated, delivered and promoted by the Regional Health Authorities, Tribal Councils, and community organizations within the NAN region, and will offer access to 24/7 culturally appropriate crisis supports, triage and live service navigation, improved usage of tele-mental health supports, and will help eliminate duplication in existing mental health and problematic substance use services.
This community-driven initiative is grounded in community leadership and First Nations approaches to Mental Health services. It will provide better coordination of existing care and play a central role in ensuring better access to tailored, and high-quality mental health and substance use services across 49 First Nation communities in Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory.Quotes
“COVID-19 has affected nearly every facet of day-to-day life, and in particular the lives of people in remote and isolated parts of the country. First Nations communities and organizations such as NAN, KO and SLFNHA worked tirelessly and with great leadership to address the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on the mental health of the peoples they represent. Their actions are saving lives. We will continue to support and work collaboratively with these partners on this First Nations-led and distinctions-based approach to meeting the specific health needs of their communities and members.”
The Honourable Marc Miller Minister of Indigenous Services
“Our First Nations are taking extraordinary measures to keep safe, and many community members are experiencing heightened feelings of isolation and uncertainty, which has understandably resulted in increased levels of anxiety and depression. Without proper supports, people in these circumstances often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, and we need to ensure they receive the support they require. This innovative program sets out pathways to access mental health and addiction services and incorporates 24/7 rapid-access emergency and crisis support for members on and off reserve. I congratulate everyone involved in its development, and I thank the government for their quick action to fund these much-needed services.”
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler Nishnawbe Aski Nation
“SLFNHA greatly appreciates the focus on mental health and addictions at a time when there is increased difficulty accessing services because of COVID-19, this will help some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
Dr. John Guilfoyle Public Health Physician for Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority
“Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) eHealth Telemedicine Services and KNet is pleased to be a partner with the NAN Mental Health and Addictions Initiative along with our partners, the Ontario Health-Ontario Telemedicine Network and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. We strive to provide quality health services utilizing video-conferencing. From the beginning of the KO telemedicine initiatives, the main goal has been to provide access to services for First Nations that otherwise would not be available in the communities. We believe this project will alleviate stress and anxiety for youth and other vulnerable populations during this challenging time.”
William Hutchison A/Executive Director for Keewaytinook OkimakanakQuick Facts
- Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is providing $2,657,560 to support the NAN Mental Health and Addictions Pandemic Response Program – Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) ehealth will receive $1,666,185 of this amount and the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority will receive $991,375 of this amount to run their components of the program.
- Since 2017, the Government of Canada has invested close to $202 million in NAN First Nations communities through Choose Life, which has supported more than 22,000 First Nations children and youth. Choose Life funds enhanced mental health and crisis counselling support, peer support programs, art and recreational therapy, school-based support programs, mental health promotion and prevention training and education.
- Since 2017, the Government of Canada has invested $16,625,000 in mental wellness teams in Ontario, of which $6,125,000 was invested to support NAN First Nations communities.
- To date, the Government of Canada has made $1.7 billion in distinctions based funding available to Indigenous peoples to support their efforts to successfully battle COVID-19, notably, a $305 million distinctions based Indigenous community support fund.