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COVID-19 COO Health Sector Weekly Update – March 25, 2020 Communique

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to evolve, Chiefs of Ontario Health Sector will be providing weekly updates concerning technical highlights.


Additional Nursing Supports:

A partnership agreement was signed in September 2019 between COO Health Sector and Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) with a commitment to address inequities in First Nation Determinants of Health. COO Health Sector reached out to RNAO to clarify capacity to assist First Nation communities across Ontario should nursing shortages arise due to COVID-19. RNAO, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Health, recently surveyed their members to recruit RNs and NPs to provide support during this pandemic. To date over 4000 nurses have come forward to provide their support and assistance. A number of organizations, including FNIHB-OR, have turned to RNAO for assistance in recruiting nursing support in cases of shortages.

RNAO welcomes requests from any hiring organizations in need of extra nursing support; if any First Nation community requires further information about nursing support please contact FNIHB-OR: or RNAO Director of Nursing and Health Policy, Matt Kellway at


COO Health is working with the AFN Food Security Group and the FNIHB-OR Regional Nutritionist to gather current info on food security issues impacting First Nations. We will share information as it becomes available to address issues such as food shortages including baby formula, alternative food distribution networks etc. An emerging potential risk is the trend toward cashless purchasing and online grocery shopping options, leaving those without credit or debit cards at risk.


COO Health has a longstanding relationship with OTN, and have reached out to ensure health care access during COVID-19 through the OTN Network. OTN is available to provide Telemedicine/Virtual Care at your organization for your patients to receive services within the community, minimizing their need for travel, risking exposure to COVID-19.

For communities that have an active Telemedicine Network (OTN) membership with either a room based and /or a virtual based access, OTN has provided a COVID 19 tool for organizations about utilizing virtual access for patient care.

For communities WITHOUT OTN Access: Telemedicine/Virtual Care is available through a partnership between OTN and Keewaytinook Okimakanak eHealth Telemedicine Services (KOeTS), which provides a simpler and more convenient alternative to purchasing a room-based videoconferencing system. For more information on how your service providers can connect, please contact Allyson Gula, KOeTS Telemedicine Navigator at 1-807-735-1381 X1380 or email Allyson Gula

If you have any questions about your organization’s access, please contact your internal Telemedicine Coordinator or Rebecca Swick, Indigenous Communities Lead at OTN


COO Health has been researching the available maps which can provide a visual picture of the locations of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, Canada and globally. COO Health is engaging with these groups and with Public Health Ontario as well as FNIHB-OR to look at ways to maximize the utility of these maps. These are updated daily:

Dalla Lana School of Public Health: This map shows approximate location of confirmed cases as reported by MOH. Click on the Case Map and then dropdown list to access Ontario. The larger dots are at the geographic centre of the region and include cases which do not have health regions identified.

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES): Map is limited in that it only shows locations where there are more than 20 confirmed cases in that health region. However there are several useful charts on this website including a listing of the number of confirmed cases.


On March 17, NIHB Ontario Region made interim changes to the Medical Transportation program for Medical Transportation Guidelines, Medical Accommodations and Medical Travel: or ISC website

For communities that have their own medical transportation programs, clients are able to request additional funds with supporting documentation. For NIHB eligible trips the region is ensuring that providers are aware of the infection control measures and pandemic guidance from public health officials. NIHB has declared that “NIHB will only cancel or rebook medical appointments at the instruction of a medical professional or of the patient themselves. At this point NIHB is not restricting travel.”


The lack of PPE equipment in many First Nation communities continues to be addressed with FNIHB-OR. Any FN community which requires a delivery of PPE is to order through the generic Indigenous Services Canada email: Chiefs of Ontario Health has been advised a dedicated FNIHB-OR staff person will be processing these orders and responding to requests.


The Ministry of Health has now launched a self assessment tool for anyone who thinks they might have contracted COVID-19. A series of questions are asked and guidance is provided.


Additional Information on COVID-19:

  1. Public Health Agency of Canada-2019 novel coronavirus: Outbreak update

  2. Ministry of Health Ontario- Guidance documents available including LTC and Home and Community Care

  3. Indigenous Services Canada COVID-19 Updates available in several languages –

  4. Previous information bulletins and additional information and resources for health staff can be found at

  5. AFN: We are committed to working together with all of you in keeping our nations protected, supported and embraced, while not possible physically, then with our spirit, as we do everything possible to combat COVID-19 and its impacts.

Additional Resources:

RNAO and Chiefs of Ontario Partnership Letter

Annex A to Air Carrier Guideline – PHAC Letter – English

Interim MT Guideline – RE Boarding Pandemic

Interim MT Guideline – RE Air Carrier Pandemic

Interim MT – Guideline – Pandemic


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