COVID-19 News & Service Updates

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 Case in communities

  The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) previously notified that there have been positive tests within the following communities: six positives in Kasabonika

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Service Updates

Nodin Child and Family Intervention Services (Nodin CFI) has been providing mental health services all along during this COVID-19 pandemic, either by phone/Ontario Telemedicine Network, or in-person counselling at our main office. The majority of staff started tele-working on March 23, 2020 while a selected amount remained at the worksite. We are in the process of planning on how to return to normal practice, however currently the below details each of Nodin’s services and how they are supporting clients and communities right now. Please disregard any previous service updates from Nodin CFI as phone numbers, for example, changed.

Main Reception

Nodin’s main reception continues to operate, connecting callers to services and staff. The number for reception is 807-737-4011 and toll-free number is 1-800-446-7863.

Intake Service

Intake continues to operate and receiving referrals, including self-referrals. Fax referrals to 807-737-7532 and/or if you have questions or are self-referring please call Linda Chikane-Chapman, Intake Manager, at 807-737-6142. Referral forms can be found on SLFNHA’s website and/or by calling the Intake Manager.

Outpatient Mental Health Service

Nodin runs a Sioux Lookout based Outpatient Mental Health Service (OMHS). This is only a short-term, week-long service for those demonstrating high-risk behaviours causing harm or risk of harm to self/others. A multi-disciplinary team provides intensive counselling, crisis intervention, psychoeducation, safety and discharge planning. The normal practice has been, after receiving referrals, to arrange for individuals to travel from communities to Sioux Lookout to attend OMHS and/or to see individuals of a more critical nature from SLMHC following a Medi-Vac and ER assessment. This has temporarily changed due to the pandemic.

Due to the pandemic:

  1. OMHS is no longer arranging for individuals to travel from communities to Sioux Lookout to attend the service.
  2. OMHS counsellors have been instead connecting with individuals on the pending list to offer intermediate short-term phone/OTN support until we can resume normal practice.
  3. Psychologists and Expressive Arts Therapists are connecting to clients by phone/OTN.
  4. OMHS are continuing to accept referrals from Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre following a Med-Vac and ER assessment.
  5. In the interim OMHS are also accepting referrals from the Sioux Lookout Northern Clinic if an individual has mental health needs that must be addressed and cannot be put on a waitlist.
  6. Individuals accepted into OMHS from the hospital/northern clinic are seen for counselling at our main office in Sioux Lookout.

If you have any questions regarding new referrals to OMHS please contact our Intake Manager, Linda Chikane-Chapman at 807-737-6142. If calling about a client you are aware is already attending OMHS, you can call Christine Morellato, Clinical Manager of OMHS, at 807-737-6141.

Crisis Response Program

This program provides crisis intervention and support to immediate families impacted by tragic incidents occurring within their family unit (e.g. suicide, homicide, tragic accidents etc.), and other community members as requested. Usual practice has been to send volunteer crisis teams and crisis workers to communities upon community request.

Volunteer crisis teams and contractual crisis workers will only be sent to communities if requests come directly from Chief and Council. We have to hear direction from leadership as to their expectations before sending anyone in. We can also arrange for telephone counselling for those affected by tragedy upon request.

Our Crisis Response Program Supervisor and Coordinator can provide the most up-to-date information on how they are responding to community crises/tragedies therefore the preference is for inquiry calls to be directed to only the crisis response program and on-call for the most up to date information. Response can change very quickly, and they are the only ones who have the most up-to-date information. The crisis response program can also provide telephone support if requested, will continue to connect with partners (i.e. Tribal Councils) to offer additional support if requested.

Day (8:30-4:30 Mon-Fri)

If you have questions or would like to arrange for support after a community tragedy/crisis, please call Vicki Hartnett, Crisis Response Program Supervisor, at 807-738-0653 (cell) during working hours 8:30-4:30 Monday to Friday.

On-Call After Hours, Weekends and Stat Holidays

Monday to Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 24 hours on weekends and statutory holiday. Contact On-Call Worker at 807-737-9257 (cell) who reports to an On-Call Supervisor.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Mental Health and Addictions Pandemic Response Program

(Launching will be approximately the beginning of August 2020)

In recognition of the increased anxiety and stress that current time period has on all of us, and in the interest of responding to the mental health needs of NAN community members, there will be a new 1-800 support line.

In the spirit of collaboration, a decision was made for Nodin to come together with Dalton Associates (large mental health organization in the south who has experience working with First Nations) in partnership to provide telephone support to community members in SLFNHA’s catchment area. Dalton submitted a proposal to NAN with how the crisis line will be delivered in partnership with others, including Nodin, and it was approved. In the last service update, Nodin had informed that Nodin was prepared to deliver its own 24/7 support line however working in partnership with Dalton proved to be a way of delivering enhanced crisis response to our communities and all of NAN communities. Rather than having our own 1-800 number, Dalton will release a 1-800 number for all of NAN community members to call should they require support. From there, Dalton will either respond to serious high-risk crises, or if deescalated and not at high risk, pass to available supports such as Nodin. Nodin will have a schedule of workers who will take calls as passed over from Dalton and then callers, if they want more support can be referred to Nodin for longer support or Nodin can refer to other appropriate supports (e.g. tribal council mental wellness teams).

The Support Line will have a 1-800 number and calls would be first received by Dalton staff and triaged from them to all service providers in the NAN communities to ensure there is immediate response and for Dalton to fill gaps as needed. The line will be open to callers experiencing a mental health and/or addictions issue crisis — 24/7 rapid access support line, 24/7 emergency/crisis support line, triage and live service navigation support, access to on-call counsellors, and on-going case management. Anyone in need will be able to call. More information will be released on the roll-out. Dalton is having meetings with NAN and partners to look at a workplan required before the launch date.

Travelling Mental Health Counsellors

Usual practice has been for Mental Health Counsellors to travel into assigned communities to provide counselling. Due to the pandemic, we had stopped sending travelling counsellors to communities. Instead, these counsellors were and still are tele-working, connecting with their clients to provide telephone/OTN counselling. If a file is not open with us, a referral must be forwarded to intake. We will only have these counsellors return to travelling into communities if community leadership permits this and if we receive communication directly from leadership that they want our counsellors to come into their communities.

Youth School Counsellors

Nodin has four Youth School Counsellors, two who provide counselling on site at Sioux North High School and two who provide counselling on site at Pelican Falls First Nations High School. Due to both schools being closed, these counsellors are tele-working, and connecting with their clients to provide telephone/OTN counselling. If a file is not open with us, a referral must be forwarded to intake.

Children’s Mental Health and Addictions Workers

Nodin has community-based Children’s Mental Health and Addiction Workers in only some of the communities. Communities: Kasabonika, Big Trout Lake, Pikangikum, Cat Lake, Aroland, Marten Falls, Fort Hope, Webequie. Youth can receive telephone mental health services by contacting Intake Manager, Linda Chikane-Chapman, at 807-737-6142 and services will be promptly be assigned to the community-based workers. All new referrals can be made by sending a referral by fax to our Nodin Intake department at 807-737-7532.

On-Call Service

Nodin CFI On-Call Workers provide phone monitoring outside regular office hours for a period of seven days: Monday to Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 24 hours on weekends and statutory holidays. On-Call does not provide one-on-one counselling in-office. This service historically has only been available to clients currently attending the OMHS and communities to call to arrange support following a tragedy/crisis.

On-Call Workers respond to new referrals, including those of high-acuity, received outside regular office hours or on weekends and statutory holidays. However, it is important for referral sources to know that it is extremely challenging for on-call to locate individuals and often contact does not happen.

For this reason, if the referring agent assesses the client to be high-risk, it is recommended that additional safety planning measures be put into place until confirmation of an appointment with a counsellor at Nodin is received.

For more information call:

Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Only
Linda Chikane-Chapman
Intake Manager
807-737-6142

After Hours/ Weekends and Holidays:
On-Call Worker
Cell: 807-737-9257

Traditional Healing

Our Traditional Coordinator, Tom Chisel, is tele-working. He will not be travelling to communities during this pandemic, nor will the contractual traditional healers under his supervision. Requests for traditional healing should still be forwarded to the Traditional Healing Coordinator, to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Tom may have ideas as to how to still support communities during this pandemic. Tom ca be reached at 807-738-2556, or emailed at Tom.Chisel@slfnha.com

Mental Support to Hostel

Nodin recognizes how the hostel staff and how visitors in isolation at the hostel require mental health support. As per request from the hostel, Nodin is providing counselling to any staff at the hostel who require support during this pandemic and also counselling support is available to any hostel visitor who has to isolate in the hostel. Posters of this service have been sent to the hostel to post.

COVID-19 Regional Response

Approaches to Community Wellbeing (ACW)’s Public Health Physician, Dr. John Guilfoyle, is coordinating SLFNHA’s COVID-19 Regional Response (CRRT). The Director of Approaches to Community Wellbeing is on that team, coordinating public health operations. Within public health operations we are supporting health promotion, public health tools and checklists to support program delivery and response at the community-level and supporting capacity around case and contact management of COVID-19.

We have been working on health promotion resources around parenting, mental wellbeing, and smoking. And we are working on collecting videos on how people are staying healthy and coping during this time of COVID-19 social/physical distancing. We will be sending up some additional print material this week, including a community wellbeing monitoring system which provides households with different colours of paper to identify their needs.

In addition to health promotion resources, we are also developing tools, checklists, and guidance documents to provide advice on how to respond to COVID-19.

Tools/Checklists

We revised infection prevention and control standards guidelines for assessment centres, quarantine centres, and isolation centres and hope to have them finalized next week. We are also working to finalize a tool on who should use PPE and a frequently asked questions document about COVID-19 testing.

Ongoing preparation is being done for if Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) approves SLFNHA’s request to take on case and contact management of COVID-19.

We are also preparing to visit additional communities to provide support in COVID-19 preparedness.

ACW staff are also working on the Planning Team of the COVID-19 response team supporting planning, surveillance, developing guidelines for how to set up alternate sites, and developing models for potential case numbers

Ongoing ACW Services

Harm Reduction

While responding to COVID-19, ACW is maintaining our essential services. This includes ongoing harm reduction supply distribution (i.e. safe injection kits and naloxone). We are also still providing health promotion resources and have developed some resources specific to COVID-19. We are also supporting program direction and training, although are looking at virtual means to do this. This has included training DOT workers for suboxone programs. As this week is Earth Day, we are promoting how to safely pick up needles.

Roots for Community Wellbeing

We also continue to maintain the immunization repository by entering immunization data and answering calls for information about immunization status.

Preventing Infectious Diseases

We also continue to provide case and contact management support for tuberculosis.

Raising our Children

We continue to engage with youth workers and youth through email and the Anishinabe Youth Network

The majority of Developmental services continue to be delivered virtually through videoconferencing and telephone consultation. This includes services from our pediatric complex care coordinators, transitional aged youth coordinator, adult developmental regional access coordinator and our audiologist as well as our contracted pediatric Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and developmental psychologists. They are all actively engaged with clients and still taking on new referrals that are being sent to our team.

Our staff have physically returned to the office on a rotational basis due to social distancing requirements starting July 6, 2020.

We are moving to support limited face-to-face health services for those who face barriers in utilizing virtual services and can get to our office hopefully by July 20th, 2020.

The Sioux Lookout Area Primary Care Team is continuing to provide health services.  The majority of the services are being supported through the Videoconferencing and Telephone Consultation;  this includes services from our Speech Language Pathologist’s, Kinesiologist’s, Occupational Therapist’s, Physiotherapist’s, Dieticians, Social Workers, Mental Health Specialist’s and Case Managers; who are all actively engaged with clients and still taking on new Referrals that are being sent to our team.

Our Nurse Practitioner’s continue to support clients in both the Northern Appointment Clinic and our Primary Care Team building at 55 Queen Street – this support is either via limited face-to-face services or via Telephone Consultation.

We are currently supporting limited face-to-face health services – mostly to support Tele-Health for the local Sioux Lookout area, including Hudson, Frenchmen’s Head and clients who are staying at the Hostel.  These clients present to the 55 Queen Street location, are screened and then supported for their Telehealth session with our Psychiatrist who is located in Toronto, Ontario.

New Services:

  • In addition to the above mentioned Psychiatry service, we have also partnered with an additional two Psychiatrist’s who are providing one day per week of services to augment the Psychiatry services already provided.
  • Our Registered Practical Nurses are offering Foot Care services for clients from remote/isolated communities who are already in Sioux Lookout for other reasons.
  • Lastly, we just announced that we are now taking referrals for “Tele-Wound Consultation Services”.

The Client Services Department is operating as usual; however, no visitors will be allowed access to the hostels. SLFNHA will be following social distancing guidelines in the hostels, transportation (with a dedicated van for self isolation cases) and food services.

  • A COVID-19 Screening Process upon arrival to the hostels has been implemented.
  • Hand-washing stations are implemented with increased signage for handwashing, sneezing/coughing, and precautions to follow.
  • Gloves and masks are available in all guestrooms.
  • The domestic kitchen is closed with restricted access for infection control. A breakfast menu is being implemented and other food services are delivered to guest rooms.
  • Clients are to report any sudden illnesses related to COVID-19.
  • Security – Zero Tolerance posting has been removed.
  • Client Laundry – Offer transportation to local laundromats and provide clients in isolation laundry services during their stay.

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  • Implemented two floors on the west wing for self-isolation (COVID-19 clients).
  • Food delivery for isolated clients.
  • Corridors, connecting link to hospital are closed
  • On the lower level, we have placed prenatal, dialysis and other clients who need to stay close to the hospital.

Physicians services are continuing within the region. Within the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC), physicians continue with essential services in the ER, inpatient care, obstetrics, and Day Medicine. All non-essential outpatient appointments located at SLMHC have been discontinued. COVID- 19 pathways have been developed and implemented in the flow of work.

Physicians continue to support all northern communities, through phone and telehealth support. In community services from physicians, continue in consultation with community leadership, nursing, the physician and the SLFNHA Medical Director. Support staff continue to be the link between physicians, nursing stations, allied services, and patients. This is being done both on and off location. Screening processes for physicians, nurses, staff, and essential patient encounters are in place at all locations.

The Northern Clinic is operating as usual, with the following restrictions:

  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Escorts are asked to wait outside of the clinic (Social Distancing guidelines)
  • Clients will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 (not to be alarmed all clinics have implemented the screening process to stop the spread of COVID-19)

Clients requiring an appointment/contact with their family physician are asked to call the Northern Clinic, where they will be assessed. They would then be provided with a phone consult appointment, telehealth appointment or potentially on-site appointment with their physician or nurse practitioner.