Six Nations Health centre working with only one doctor a week

By Turtle Island News Staff
SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND-While a medical staff shortage is taking hold of the country, Six Nations is down to only one doctor once a week at its Gane Yoh’s Community Health Centre.
The shortage has Six Nations working to make it more attractive for doctors to provide services in the community.
Six Nations Elected Councillor Greg Frazer and Jennifer Smith, executive director of the Six Nations Family Health Team gave a presentation about their progress and next steps to recruitment at the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC)’s Political Liaison meeting on January 23.
“We’re flagged, as other communities are [for a shortage of doctors and] in finding and retaining doctors. Sometimes they do come in and stay for one or two years,” Frazer said.
He and Smith met with Dr. David McNeil, president and CEO of the Brant Community Healthcare System (BCHS) and Dr. Anirudh Goel, Vice President of Medical Affairs &
Chief of Staff to talk about physician shortages and what Six Nations can do to help community members receive the medical care they need in a culturally sensitive way.
While Frazer said the meeting went well but, finding and retaining doctors is a nationwide issue and the BCHS isn’t immune.
Frazer said they are hopeful they could retain a full time doctor at Gane Yoh’s Community Health Centre, where currently there is only a doctor one day a week.
Smith said retaining doctors on Six Nations is problematic because the system is both federally and provincially funded, which causes difficulties when it comes to a doctors’ paycheque. She said doctors are paid on a fee for service model – meaning the more patients they see, the more they are paid, but as many Indigenous people are susceptible to multiple chronic illnesses it becomes a slower process, with more steps involved and garnering the doctors less money.
“Our comorbidities are such that it’s so much higher than non-native populations. It takes a larger time period to review all the files, review health situations and make proper diagnosis, where in some instances when they are off-reserve working, they can determine it quickly,’ she said. “Our situation takes longer, so he’s not actually getting paid the same amount as off-reserve.”
She said White Pines gets around that problem with a “blended salary model.”
“It doesn’t matter how many patients they see, they get paid the same amount each month,” she said.
They’ve retained four full time doctors and have signed on a part time doctor to full time who will begin those hours shortly. They’ve submitted an application to use the same model for Gane Yoh’s, but she said it’s “a waiting game.”
In the future councillors said they are hoping to create a walk-in clinic and in the long-term they hope to create their own medical system with a fully staffed hospital by utilizing medical schools nearby including McMaster University and others.
“My ultimate vision is a health authority and hospital centre for our community,” Smith said. To develop a hub rotation where physicians, nurses, medical students, CNA’s… come through.”
They are also working with Six Nations Polytechnic, Haudenosaunee Health Services as well as others who are working toward the same goal and who are working to educate the youth in the hopes to have more Six Nations medical staff in the future.
Councillor Audrey Powless-Bomberry expressed support for encouraging the youth to get involved.
“All of this could be one beautiful healthcare system with a huge wrap-around service so people are not going outside territory unless they want to,” she said.


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