N’Mninoeyaa | Aboriginal Health Access Centre
Our History – It’s Important
In the early 1990’s an agreement was signed by the North Shore Tribal Council Chiefs agreeing to renew and strengthen cooperation amongst the communities to achieve community controlled quality health care. Research was conducted to determine the health status of member First Nation citizens, which confirmed a higher incidence of smoking, alcohol and drug use, chronic disease health problems and mental health issues within our communities than the rest of Ontario. In addition, research indicated that barriers of access existed in terms of access to culturally appropriate services and the lack of early detection and screening in a timely manner.
In 1995, Health Canada began transferring health promotion and injury and illness prevention programs and funding to each North Shore Tribal Council First Nation.
At the same time, provincial research was examining First Nation/Aboriginal health issues. One important recommendation developed from the research and subsequent Health Policy was that First Nation/Aboriginal control over planning and service delivery was necessary to improve Aboriginal health.
Serving the Communities for 21 years
In 1995, N’Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre was developed and received provincial funding under the Aboriginal Healing & Wellness Strategy. The services delivered under this agreement were based on an outreach, collaborative and partnership model with each of the seven (7) First Nations and the Indian Friendship Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
In 2011 N’Mninoeyaa Health Access Centre along with the other ten (10) Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHAC’s) transitioned from the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. This was a move intended to ensure the AHAC’s received formal provincial recognition as Aboriginal primary health care agencies equated to mainstream models of primary health care agencies in Ontario.
In 2011 Mamaweswen, North Shore Tribal Council also established the Baawaating Family Health Team located on the Batchewana First Nation. This move was to expand primary health care services to local and off reserve Aboriginal people residing in Sault Ste. Marie who did not have a Family Practitioner. The creation of a Family Health Team was in response to the wait time experienced by many Aboriginal people living in Sault Ste. Marie when accessing N’Mninoeyaa Health Access Centre services located out of the Indian Friendship Centre. An expansion of the AHAC program was being lobbied at that time, however the only avenue to enhance primary health care agencies was through the creation of Family Health Teams or Nurse Practitioner Led clinics.
In April 2015, the two primary health care agencies – N’Mninoeyaa Health Access Centre and Baawaating Family Health Team incorporated under one entity called Maamwesying North Shore Community Health Services. This move was under the direction and approval of Mamaweswen, North Shore Tribal Council Board of Directors. The two primary health care agencies had a strategic goal to obtain formal accreditation and engage in recruitment and retention efforts aimed at stabilizing our human resources.
Mandate – What Excites Us
The Mandate of N’Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Program that is now appropriately funded under the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care, is to:
- Improve accessibility, comprehensiveness, coordination, continuity and accountability of primary health care services.
- Respond to community and individual identified health priorities with effective, wholistic and culturally sensitive primary health care.
- Reflect the importance of disease prevention, health promotion and the social determinants of health in the collective planning and partnership delivery of primary health care.
- Increase client participation, responsibility and control in their health care.
- In the past few years we have expanded services in all areas of health whereby we proclaim and demonstrate that our “Anishinabek culture is treatment and therapy”
- We have expanded our programs to address opioid treatment and pain management therapies.
- We have customized a residential school healing program for community members coping with adverse childhood trauma and experiences.
- We have established and expanded interprofessional primary health care team to several northern Aboriginal communities.
- We participate in quality improvement plans and quality assurance activities to ensure that our data truly reflects our community stories.
- We have expanded our Community Support Services Program to include hospital charge planners, Assisted Living for High Risk Seniors, additional Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy services along with Rehab Assistants and look to advance more services to the senior population.