Virtual town hall meetings provide COVID-19 info to First Nations healthcare teams
- Michelle Lerat | May 14, 2020
Click here to listen to the audio version of this story.
Every Thursday since mid-March, First Nations health managers and front line workers across the country have been able to log into a virtual town hall meeting for information about COVID-19 and how it relates to First Nations.
Panels of experts provide the newest information and answer emailed questions from listeners.
The weekly on-line sessions are hosted by the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA) in conjunction with Indigenous Health Today, an online Canada-wide newsletter, and Indigenous Services Canada.
FNHMA CEO Marion Crowe says the town hall has reached over 20,000 live viewers. The events are scheduled until May 21 but Crowe says she expects the decision will be to continue the virtual town hall past this date.
First Nations communities face unique circumstances and challenges when dealing with COVID-19, including health disparities and higher instances of chronic illness, Crowe says.
“[We’re] encouraging nations to exercise sovereignty in closing their borders,” said Crowe. “More importantly we want to make sure that people are still practicing and have access to cultural support…for mental health and well-being.
“We want to encourage people to do that protect our wisdom keepers, our elders, and our Nations by staying home and exercising the diligence of staying a fishing pole length or moose length away from other people in the community.”
Crowe notes common themes discussed during the town halls include PPE access and sustainable funding to combat COVID-19. Also highlighted is the importance for front-line workers to practice self-care while combating COVID-19.
The association’s website has added a feature, called Infopoint, that provides phone numbers and email addresses, said Crowe.
“This is an opportunity for health managers and health directors to actually have somebody to call into. So, if you don’t have time to dig through the barrage of information coming into your inbox give FNHMA a call at Infopoint or send us an email. We are committed to get information back within 30 minutes.”
"Working with Thunderbird Partnership foundations and First Peoples Wellness Circle has been a crucial partnership for FNHMA in giving some of those social well-being messages.”
Crowe, who is from Piapot First Nation said health care leadership across Canada participate in the association.
“The members in Saskatchewan of the First Nations Health Managers Association are leaders across Canada,” said Marion. “We have 81 members who are working on their certification with us and 54 people in Saskatchewan who have achieved their certified First Nation Health Managers designations.”
You can join the virtual town hall live at 1PM every Thursday at www.ihtoday.ca.