Engaging Indigenous communities


Laura Kokocinski
CEO, North West LHIN

The North West LHIN is committed to promoting close working relationships with Indigenous agencies and communities. As an organization, the LHIN is finding ways to improve access, equity and culturally-appropriate health care programs and services for Indigenous people in Northwestern Ontario.
The North West LHIN has hosted and facilitated discussions with intergovernmental partners, health service providers (HSPs) and community stakeholders involved in crisis response to effectively co-ordinate responses amongst LHIN funded agencies to address community issues. For example, the LHIN has provided crisis response funding to Wapekeka First Nation in a jointly developed proposal to enhance local support for youth and develop local capacity.
In response to Recommendation #114 from the 2016 Coroner’s report related to the deaths of seven Indigenous youths in Thunder Bay, the North West LHIN is leading the facilitation of discussions with a group of stakeholders focused on developing an alternative safe space for intoxicated youth in Thunder Bay. The intent is that once this is in place it will reduce risk and increase safety for youth in the City of Thunder Bay.
The North West LHIN provides funding support to Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School – an Indigenous high school in Thunder Bay – to facilitate managed drug withdrawal for students. The LHIN is also working with government partners to create an action plan to improve services for the students attending school away from their home community.
Recognizing the importance of cultural awareness, the North West LHIN is implementing Indigenous Cultural Safety training for all health service providers and service provider organizations in the region. To date, 349 health-care workers have registered for this training. An Indigenous wellness strategy has been integrated into the ongoing planning at the North West LHIN to ensure culturally-appropriate care.
Other notable achievements in the last year include:
– Four Indigenous remote nursing stations now have access to the Regional Critical Care Response Program which provides real time access via telemedicine to critical care services in Thunder Bay
– Development of the North West LHIN Aboriginal Health Action Plan
– Implementation of i-STAT handheld blood analyzers in First Nations nursing stations in collaboration with Health Canada, ORNGE, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Hospital and the LHIN
– A relationship with Flinders University in Australia, a world leader in Diabetes Point of Care Testing, continues to support accessible testing for diabetes patients across the region, including remote northern communities

Engagement with Indigenous communities and partners is embedded in all of North West LHIN initiatives. Through ongoing engagement and Indigenous involvement on LHIN-led committees, the North West LHIN is strengthening Indigenous inclusion and engagement in health planning
Planning is also underway for an Indigenous Health Forum to be held in 2018 to bring together health service providers, service provider organizations, primary care, public health, health-care leaders and Indigenous health directors to look at improving access, co-ordination and sustainability of quality and equitable health services for Indigenous people in the Northwest region.
While there is much work to be done, the North West LHIN is committed to improving access and equity of services, building community capacity and listening to the voice of Indigenous communities. I would like to thank all of our partners, North West LHIN Board Members and staff, who work each day to improve health outcomes for the people of Northwestern Ontario.

Laura Kokocinski is the CEO, North West LHIN

Filed in: All Content, Commentary

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