Transcript: Nursing in Northern Ontario | Feb 19, 2021

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and burgundy tie.

A caption on screen reads "Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

A wall screen behind him reads "Ontario Hubs."

Jeyan says HEALTH CARE DELIVERY AT ANY TIME IS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE. AND DURING THE PANDEMIC THE CRACKS AND GAPS THAT EXIST ARE ONLY MORE VISIBLE AND POTENTIALLY DEVASTATING. NICK DUNNE IS OUR ONTARIO HUB COVERING THE NORTHEAST AND JOINS US FROM SUDBURY, WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

Nick is in his twenties, clean-shaven, with short, curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt and purple tie.

He says THANKS FOR HAVING ME, JEYAN.

Jeyan says BEFORE WE GET STARTED LET'S WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO TO SET THE TABLE.

In a clip, Jeyan narrates as key words and concepts pop up on screen next to simple drawings that illustrate what he says.

He says WHAT IS A REMOTE NURSING STATION? ON RESERVE NURSING STATIONS ARE SET UP AS PRIMARY HEALTH CARE FOR REMOTE FIRST NATIONS IN CANADIAN PROVINCES. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FUNDING AND ADMINISTERING HEALTH CARE TO THESE REMOTE COMMUNITIES. NURSING STATIONS HELP PROVIDE SUCH SERVICES WHERE HOSPITALS AND OTHER MEDICAL FACILITIES DON'T EXIST. TEAMS VARY IN TUM DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE COMMUNITY THEY'RE SERVING. NURSES REQUIRE ADDITIONAL TRAINING TO WORK IN REMOTE REGIONS WITH FEWER RESOURCES AND WHERE CONDITIONS MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THEY'VE ENCOUNTERED IN OTHER PARTS OF THE PROVINCE. IF A PATIENT NEEDS MORE CARE, THEY'RE FLOWN TO THE CLOSEST HOSPITAL. DURING CRISIS SITUATIONS SUCH AS THE PANDEMIC, NURSING STATION TEAMS ARE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. HOWEVER, CRITICS HAVE RAISED QUESTION ABOUT THE QUALITY OF TRAINING AND LEVEL OF STAFFING AT NURSING STATIONS. IN 2021, INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA RUNS 21 NURSING STATIONS ON FIRST NATIONS IN ONTARIO.

The clip ends.

Jeyan says NICK, NOW THAT WE KNOW WHAT NURSING STATIONS ARE CAN YOU TELL US WHY THEY'RE SO IMPORTANT AND WHY THEY'RE NEEDED?

The caption changes to "Nick Dunne. Northeastern Ontario Hub Journalist."
Then, it changes again to "Unique needs of nursing stations."

Nick says YEAH, WELL, AS THE EXPLAINER MENTIONS, JEYAN, THEY'RE THE PRIMARY POINT OF CONTACT FOR HEALTH CARE IN THESE COMMUNITIES WHERE MANY SMALL COMMUNITIES IN ONTARIO ARE... OR SOUTHERN ONTARIO AND EVEN PARTS OF NORTHERN ONTARIO, YOU KNOW, MIGHT BE WITHIN AN HOUR'S DRIVE, TWO-HOUR DRIVE TO A HOSPITAL. THESE ARE REMOTE COMMUNITY THAT IS ARE SEVERAL HUNDRED KILOMETRE FLIGHT AWAY. SO IT'S NOT LIKE YOU KNOW YOU HAVE ACCESS THAT IS EASY TO GET TO. SO THERE NEEDS TO BE SOME LEVEL OF HEALTH CARE TO DEAL WITH THE ACUTE AND CHRONIC NEEDS IN MANY GIVEN COMMUNITY.

Jeyan says LET'S TALK ABOUT THE TRAINING. THE TRAINING THAT THESE NURSES RECEIVE, IS IT SPECIAL TRAINING, IS IT ANY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT A NORMAL NURSE WOULD GO THROUGH?

The caption changes to "Nick Dunne, @NickFDunne."

Nick says WELL, THESE NURSES HAVE TO BE A JACK OF ALL TRADES, YOU KNOW. YOU'RE A HANDFUL OF NURSES IN A COMMUNITY OF SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE TO UPWARDS OF 1,000. SO YOU ARE DEALING WITH EVERYTHING FROM DIABETES TO MENTAL HEALTH CALLS TO, YOU KNOW, DOING BLOOD WORK, PUBLIC HEALTH NURSING. IT'S KIND OF EVERYTHING. YOU HAVE TO BE EQUIPPED AND READY TO DO EVERYTHING. ON TOP OF THAT THERE'S A LOT OF CULTURAL TRAINING. BEING ABLE TO FORM RELATIONSHIPS WITH THESE COMMUNITIES, GET THAT FAMILIARITY, WORK WITH YOUR PATIENTS. IT'S A VERY UNIQUE CONTEXT. AND THERE'S A WHOLE LOT OF ADDED RESPONSIBILITIES TO IT WHEN YOU'RE WORKING IN SUCH A SMALL... OR WITH SUCH A SMALL HEALTH TEAM IN A REMOTE COMMUNITY.

Jeyan says LET'S TALK ABOUT ONE COMMUNITY IN YOUR tvo.org ARTICLE,YOU WROTE ABOUT SAGECO LAKE FIRST NATION. TELL US WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT COMMUNITY WHEN IT COMES TO ADMINISTERING HEALTH CARE.

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/OntarioHubs. Sioux Lookout. Crisis in northern Ontario nursing stations: Health workers sound the alarm. By Nick Dunne."

Nick says YEAH, SO I SPOKE TO Dr. BEN LANGER, A PHYSICIAN WHO WORKS OUT OF THE SIOUX LOOK OUT AREA. AND FOR A WEEK EACH MONTH, APPROXIMATELY, GIVE OR TAKE. AND HE WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW OFTEN THERE'S ONLY TWO NURSES IN HIS COMMUNITY AT A GIVEN TIME. THERE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THREE NURSES. BUT HE FEELS THAT EVEN WHEN THEY'RE FULLY STAFFED, THEY'RE HAVING A LOT OF TROUBLE.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Jeyan says IN IS JUST A NORMAL DAY. LET'S JUST ADD THE PANDEMIC TO THIS. HOW DOES THAT IMPACT DELIVERING HEALTH CARE TO A COMMUNITY LIKE THAT?

The caption changes to "The complications of a pandemic."

Nick says YEAH, SO THERE ARE A NUMBER OF THINGS. FIRST OF ALL, THE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS ARE ALREADY QUITE ACUTE IN A LOT OF NORTHERN COMMUNITIES. AND THE PANDEMIC, YOU KNOW, LIKE IT'S EFFECTING, I THINK, EVERYONE WHO'S DEALING WITH ISOLATION, DEALING WITH ADDED MENTAL HEALTH PRESSURES, ANXIETY ABOUT THE STATE OF THIS PANDEMIC, IT IS INCREASING, YOU KNOW, THOSE MENTAL HEALTH CALLS. THAT'S WHAT Dr. BEN LANGER, Dr. CLAUDETTE CHASE, Dr. MARILYN COLVILLE AND OTHER DOCTORS FROM THE SIOUX LOOK OUT AREA ARE SAYING. ON TOP OF THAT, THE NEEDS... PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO GO SEEK HEALTH CARE, YOU KNOW, THEY REALLY DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO GO FLY SOUTH WHERE THERE'S COVID, POTENTIALLY TO GET THE HELP THEY NEED. OR THEY JUST, YOU KNOW, WANT TO AVOID GATHERING, RIGHT? SO WHAT HAPPENS IS PEOPLE ARE MORE RELUCTANT TO SEEK HEALTH CARE WHICH MEANS THAT BY THE TIME THE DOCTORS SEE THEM THEY COULD BE IN A MORE DETERIORATED STATE AND THEY COULD BE MORE SICK. SO YOU ARE SEEING PEOPLE GET MORE AND MORE SICK AND THEN THIRDLY, THIS WHOLE ROLL OUT OF VACCINATIONS, IT'S BEEN A TERRIFIC EFFORT BY ORANGE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, FIRST NATIONS AND THE PROVINCE TO VACCINATE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS COMPRESSED PERIOD OF TIME. BUT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE FOCUSING SO HARD ON COVID THAT, YOU KNOW, CHRONIC ILLNESSES AND KIND OF LINGERING ISSUES KIND OF PERSIST, YOU KNOW. CLAUDETTE CHASE WAS TELLING ME, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE NOT KEEPING UP WITH YOUR PAP SMEARS, YOU'RE NOT CATCHING UP WITH YOUR CHILD VACCINATIONS, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. YOU KNOW, YOU'RE JUST DEALING WITH COVID AND THAT ACUTE, ACUTE KIND OF LEVEL OF HEALTH CARE. STAFFING IS HARD. THERE ARE HIGH LEVELS OF BURNOUT. IT'S HARD TO MAINTAIN PEOPLE. THEY'RE ALSO SAYING THAT INFRASTRUCTURE IS KEY. EVEN IF THEY HAD PEOPLE COMING IN THERE'S NO ROOM TO HOUSE THEM. SO SO THEY SENT A LETTER TO MARK MILLER EARLIER THIS MONTH JUST KIND OF REACHING OUT FOR RESOURCES BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THIS IS THE KIND OF, LIKE, FIRST LEVEL OF, YOU KNOW, DEFENCE FOR THESE COMMUNITIES WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING THEIR HEALTH CARE ISSUES DEALT WITH. YOU KNOW, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS SINCE RESPONDED. YOU KNOW, THEY'VE BEEN CONDUCTING MEETINGS WITH THIS GROUP OF DOCTORS. BUT ISC HAS TOLD ME OR INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA HAS TOLD ME THAT THEY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT STAFFING IS AN ISSUE. THAT HE TALKED ABOUT NUMEROUS PROGRAMS FOR RETENTION, ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR STAFFING. THEY MENTIONED A FIGURE OF 785 MILLION dollars SPENT IN ONTARIO TO DATE FOR ALL HEALTH CARE NEEDS REGARDING THE PANDEMIC. EVERYTHING FROM PPE TO THE VACCINES TO, YOU KNOW, INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS AROUND THE PROVINCE. IT'S A VERY... IT KIND OF INCLUDES ALL THE FUNDING THAT HAS BEEN PROVIDED THAT KIND OF ALL LEVELS NOT JUST FOR FIRST NATIONS BUT FOR INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND, YOU KNOW, FAMILIES AS WELL. INDIGENOUS FAMILIES.

Jeyan says VERY QUICKLY, NIK, THIS IS SOMETHING I WANT TO ASK YOU, IN TERMS OF IS IT NEW IN TERMS OF THE STAFF SHORTAGES IN THESE COMMUNITIES? HOW ELSE CAN HEALTH CARE BE IMPROVED IN THESE REGIONS AFTER TALKING TO THE DOCTORS?

Nick says NURSING STATIONS, THAT'S REALLY AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL AND THAT'S WHERE THE ACUTE NEEDS ARE BEING MET. BUT, YOU KNOW, EVERYONE I'VE SPOKEN TO ABOUT THIS FROM CLAUDETTE CHASE, FROM BEN LANGER, FROM OTHER DOCTORS AND EVEN JANIK WARDEN, THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AT THE SIOUX FIRST NATIONS HEALTH AUTHORITY SHE WAS REALLY TALKING ABOUT THE NEED TO ADDRESS THOSE FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH. THE REASON WHY THESE NEEDS ARE SO ACUTE IS BECAUSE THERE ARE ISSUES OF INFRASTRUCTURE. OF HOUSING, OF ACCESS TO THINGS LIKE WATER AND ELECTRICITY. IF YOU CAN WORK TO PREVENT, YOU KNOW, THINGS FROM GETTING TO THE POINT OF NEEDING ACUTE CARE, YOU ARE GOING TO BE REDUCING IN THE LONG TERM STRESS IN PLACES LIKE NURSING STATIONS AND OTHER FACILITIES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Jeyan says I WANT TO THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US TONIGHT ON THE SHOW THAT'S NICK DUNNE, OUR NORTH EASTERN ONTARIO JOURNALIST.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: Nursing in Northern Ontario