Doctor says pre-existing nursing shortage leaves northern Ontario First Nations ‘vulnerable’ to COVID-19 – CBC

‘Fragility’ of northern Indigenous communities puts them at higher risk, says federal health minister

Mar 18, 2020

A COVID-19 outbreak in remote Ontario First Nations will put immense strain on an already fragile health system, according to a doctor in Sioux Lookout, Ont.

Dr. Marilyn Koval, who has provided care to Mishkeegogamang First Nation and other northern communities over the last 20 years, said the federal government needs to immediately increase funding for nursing services.

Koval said more nurses are needed not only to deal with the potential of a pandemic entering northern Ontario First Nations, but also to provide care for pre-existing chronic ailments that current health care staffing levels can barely handle.

“That is the context in which we are layering this pandemic. Arguably the communities have been left vulnerable by not having the kind of nursing services that should have been in place,” said Koval.

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