McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster University signs agreement to provide physician services for Sioux Lookout communities

Published: November 25, 1998

Sioux Lookout - After months of negotiations, Health Canada and McMaster University have signed an agreement on physician services for the 28 First Nations communities in the Sioux Lookout Zone. Under the agreement McMaster will recruit 16 family physicians and manage the health care services that these physicians will provide over the two-year term of the contract.

McMaster dean and vice-president, health sciences, Russell Joffe understands, "the challenges of rebuilding health services for the Sioux Lookout Zone are significant. We are however, committed to help the First Nations realize their rightful expectations for high quality health care which is patient-centred and community-based. McMaster's involvement in the Sioux Lookout Zone will be directed on-site and depend upon participation by First Nations and other health providers who know first-hand the challenges posed in this difficult-to-service part of the province. I am also pleased that the Northwestern Ontario Medical Program (NOMP) has agreed to include the Sioux Lookout Zone among the clinical education opportunities that it offers to learners from all five Ontario medical schools."

While efforts are underway to recruit new family physicians, McMaster acknowledges that it will take some time before full physician staffing is reached. Meanwhile, physician efforts will continue to concentrate on support for community nurses and visits to the northern communities. With the signing of the contract, a competitive compensation package and a reasonable workload can now be guaranteed. Expectations are that the hospital may reopen in stages as the medical practice reestablished itself.

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Deputy Chief James Morris, who is responsible for health issues, is positive about the contract with McMaster. "It is the first concrete step that has been taken to deal with the emergency situation. We look forward to working with McMaster to rebuild and stabilize physician services in the communities and to open the Zone Hospital."

The chair of NOMP, Dr. William McCready, a Thunder Bay nephrologist who also practices in Sioux Lookout, welcomed McMaster's invitation to extend NOMP's mandate. "This will give us a new education focus that offers future physicians first-hand experience in providing medical services for the remote Ojibway and Cree communities of the Sioux Lookout Zone."

Paul Cochrane, Health Canada's Assistant Deputy Minister, Medical Services Branch, is "pleased that a deal has been reached with McMaster. This agreement is based upon a statement of work that was developed with First Nations communities and according to their needs. Throughout this process, the health and safety of First Nations in the area has been our utmost concern."

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