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Primary Care Responds to Northwestern ON First Nations Evacuation

6 Aug 2021 9:27 AM | Contact Us (Administrator)

Ontario Health Central Coordinates Evacuation Response in Peel Region

On July 21, Peel Region joined a growing list of regions across Ontario hosting groups of evacuees from the Northwestern Ontario First Nations communities threatened by forest fires. As part of its mission to coordinate health care, Ontario Health Central quickly organized a response among regional stakeholders to provide immediate and ongoing health-care coverage for 351 residents (number as of July 28) of the community of Cat Lake.

As in the first wave of most evacuations, which generally include vulnerable groups, initial arrivals from Cat Lake required various health-care supports, which are being provided – wherever possible – under the leadership of Indigenous groups and Indigenous health-care providers.

“This has been a wonderful example of an integrated response from across Peel Region,” said Neil Walker, Vice President, Capacity, Access and Flow and Interim Regional Lead for Ontario Health Central. “Indigenous health experts, primary and emergency health-care providers, nursing and support staff, all came together within hours to ensure the evacuees are given the care they require and deserve during this stressful time.”

The Cat Lake evacuees are being housed in hotel accommodations near Pearson International Airport, with third-party contractors providing food, transportation and security. While Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) remains the lead organization, EMO’s initial ask of Ontario Health Central was for a Registered Nurse presence, as well as the setup of an on-site primary health clinic. The response from Peel Region health-care providers has met or exceeded that request.

Ontario Health Central would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts put forward by health-care providers in Peel Region. It is also important to note that evacuation efforts are continuing and – in some cases – expanding. Continued cooperation and close coordination will be required to ensure the provision of quality health care to these evacuees.

“As they have throughout this past year, we remain confident that Ontario health-care providers, and their partners at the regional and provincial levels, will continue to rise to the challenge,” Neil continued.

Authored by: Jeff Hull, Communications Coordinator for Ontario Health Central

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