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Archive for April, 2020

Notice – Helping Rural, Remote and Indigenous Communities Respond to COVID-19

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On April 20th, 2020, the provincial government announced a new collaborative framework to help ensure people living in rural, remote and all Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC) have appropriate health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This framework includes immediate actions to improve health-care services and respond to the pandemic, including:

  • Enhanced medical transportation options to larger centres, including flights and ambulances;
  • Short-term accommodations options for people needing to self-isolate near their families while remaining in their home communities or options to develop accommodation near larger centres with more medical services;
  • New and faster COVID-19 testing technology, which uses a team-based approach;
  • First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day, a program that connects First Nations members and their families in remote communities to a doctor using videoconferencing; and
  • Increased mental health supports in communities.

We collectively recognize the needs of each community and region will be unique, and plans must be responsive to individual community needs, guided by culturally safe and appropriate care. These new resources and services will build on and complement ongoing work to support First Nations with their pandemic responses, led by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) with support from Indigenous Services Canada and Emergency Management BC.

The FNHA, First Nations Health Council (FNHC), First Nation Health Directors Association (FNHDA), regional health authorities and BC Emergency Health Services will work with First Nations in the coming days to identify needs and develop plans together at both the regional and community level.

The next steps include:

  • Each region working with the Partnership Accord Table, and regional health authorities to develop a detailed response plan incorporating the elements of the Framework.
  • A direct circle of care of regulated health professionals who will provide direct support and service to individuals through the COVID-19 testing, isolation, transportation and acute care process.
  • A supportive circle for a First Nation community, e.g. regional executive directors, health directors, community nursing staff and transportation supports.
  • Expansion of the First Nation Virtual Doctor of the Day program launched by FNHA to include access to mental health supports.

The framework is flexible so that all BC First Nations communities can adapt it to meet their unique needs and preparations. Throughout the pandemic the framework will be implemented through engagement with community leaders. When the pandemic is over, it is understood that the need for improvements in providing health services and access to services broadly in communities will continue. A legacy of this framework will be ongoing, improved medical transportation.

For more information, please see the news release issued by the Province yesterday at:

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0020-000725

Please do not hesitate to contact info@fnha.ca if you have any questions.

Download this notice in PDF format here​.

Maintaining Essential Services during COVID-19

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As we face the challenges of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, our strength is grounded in our collective sense of wellbeing and our First Nations perspective on health and wellness. Given the legacy of colonialism, it’s natural that we react protectively in the best interest of our people. We’ve heard how communities are using ‘two-eyed seeing’ to follow critical public health advice while drawing upon our culture and traditions to sustain them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

​​Working alongside the health professionals in your communities, you’re playing a key role to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of our people. To ensure we maintain essential services during this time – keeping health centres, band offices and essential businesses open – and support your pandemic response plans, we offer these recommendations to Chiefs and leaders. We understand you’re making decisions that fit community needs; and we recommend that communities consider health services as essential programs, re-assigning staff or rotating work duties to allow for physical distancing in offices. As needed, deploy people to: 

• ​Monitor and/or liaise with the FNHA and local Emergency Operation Centres;

• Answer phones, direct inquiries, provide community bulletins and information via social media;

• Maintain accessibility to services and supports for vulnerable community members with high health needs;

• Provide support and act as liaisons for youth and Elders; and

• Provide childcare support for parents working in essential service jobs.

The FNHA, FNHC and FNHDA recognize how leaders are working in the best interest of their communities to make sure everyone is healthy and safe during this time. We raise our hands to you for providing leadership, reassurance and trusted information. A few reminders:

​• It is more important than ever to observe the public health guidelines that support our collective health. For the safety of everyone, rules and orders by the Provincial Health Officer regarding gatherings still apply, including in the case of funerals and memorials. We support these orders and advise against any gathering to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities.

• Review 1) the FNHA’s Community Guide for information on supports for community leaders (e.g, PPE ordering details, expense eligibility) and 2) Employers Guide to COVID-19.

The FNHA has provided correspondence confirming that Funding Arrangements have been extended and that funding releases will continue based on existing schedules to ensure services continue without interruption. Any questions can be directed to Tanya Duncan, Director, Funding Arrangements, at Tanya.Duncan@fnha.ca.

Your FNHC regional representatives and FNHDA Health Directors are also a source of information and support during this crisis – please call on them.