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Ontario's Small-Town Vaccine Hunter

Foleyet Nursing Station building

When a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens in her region, Brenda Vandal goes into action, pulling out her call list and picking up the phone. "I just wanted to make [patients] aware every time there was a new clinic," says Vandal, the secretary for the Foleyet Nursing Station, in northeastern Ontario.

Born and raised in Foleyet, she's been at the nursing station for 25 years and operated as the community's unofficial vaccine hunter since the first clinic nearby opened on March 11 - posting on the nursing station's Facebook page and hanging signs around town advertising the station's social-media channels. Normally at this time of year, the nursing station (housed in a small building and staffed by Vandal and a single nurse practitioner) deals with campers and outfitters, treating such issues as poison-ivy rashes and fish-hook removals. This year, her focus is on her growing call list and helping residents book their appointments. "I made a lot of appointments for the older seniors who are not tech savvy."

Older residents, Vandal says, can't always keep up with online news, and television coverage focuses on southern Ontario, meaning that people in Foleyet are often left confused as to where and when to get a shot. Vandal says it can take upwards of an hour to book over the phone and estimates she's set up appointments for at least 50 people.

Click here for the complete story.


Seventy-Two More Receive First COVID-19 Dose in Chapleau

Seventy-two Chapleau healthcare workers and designated caregivers received their first dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine this Friday, February 26 in a joint effort Mini mass vaccination clinic that took place at Services de santé de Chapleau Health Services (SSCHS).

"We're very excited. We've been waiting for this. Chapleau is isolated, so this is just another level of protection," said SSCHS Infection Control and Occupational Health Nurse Jennifer Joyal.

Those who received the vaccine are consenting dedicated long-term care staff, designated caregivers of long-term care residents, as well as SSCHS staff and community healthcare workers that fall under highest priority group sequencing.

Planning efforts to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to communities across the Public Health Sudbury and Districts' catchment area are extensive.

As Joyal explains, it takes coordination and cooperation from various community players. All plans are developed then submitted to by Public Health Sudbury and Districts for final approval.

"We've been meeting daily and sometimes twice a day over the past two weeks, attending meetings with the Chapleau Vaccine Implementation Committee, which is made up of various community healthcare partners. The committee has been meeting since early January to begin dialogue in order to coordinate vaccine rollout initiatives. Plans are also underway for additional mini mass and larger scale mass vaccination clinics."

Ontario is currently in Phase 1 of the Ministry of Health's three-phased vaccine distribution implementation plan. Phase 2 of the plan is expected to begin in April 2021, depending on availability of vaccines.

Healthcare workers getting vaccine Healthcare workers getting vaccine
Healthcare workers getting vaccine Healthcare workers getting vaccine
Healthcare workers getting vaccine v
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Residents Receive COVID Vaccine at Bignucolo Residence

It was an exciting day at Chapleau Health Services on Tuesday, February 9, when all consenting residents at Bignucolo Residence, along with two staff members, received the first dose of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine.

"There was a really great energy and mood over all," said Brenda Bernier, Long-Term Care Charge Nurse. "One of the residents told a staff member, 'I'm so excited to get this.'"

Phase One of the vaccination roll out was an 'all hands on deck' process with staff helping from various departments with tasks like filling out paperwork, re-arranging furniture to respect physical distancing, preparing refreshments, portering residents, administering the vaccine, and monitoring for side effects. Two staff members from Chapleau Public Health Sudbury and Districts office also assisted.

Bignucolo resident with vaccine Bignucolo resident with vaccine

"This is an unprecedented effort, requiring extensive planning, coordination with many partners, and the ability to quickly change course to adapt to new circumstances. I know that all involved are motivated by the singular purpose of getting vaccine in arms as soon as possible," said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

A total of 1,729 individuals from long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes in the Sudbury district were immunized with their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the provincial target date of February 10.

Second doses are scheduled to take place over the coming weeks in accordance with second dose requirements.


Thank You, Dr. Mitchell!

Dr. Mitchell

On behalf of all of us at Services de santé de Chapleau Health Services, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to Dr. Doris Mitchell for all the care, service, and dedication she has offered to our communities over the past eight years!

Dr. Mitchell has covered and cared for our communities 24/7 since 2012, providing care for emerg patients, long-term care residents, hospital inpatients, hospice patients, and home visits. She opened and provided primary care at the Sacred Tree Wellness Centre on Chapleau Cree Fist Nation. She also provided primary care at the Chapleau and District Family Health Team and in Foleyet.

Dr. Mitchell continuously lead education for local health care staff and mentored many medical students over the years, particularly new doctors through the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

We will miss Dr. Mitchell dearly and wish her all the best in her future endeavours. Thank you!


Door panels at Bignucolo Residence

Unique Door Panels at the Bignucolo Residence

Residents at the Bignucolo Residence are getting their doors personalized with large decal made to look so real it's hard to tell the doors are not completely new. The door panels will help residents distinguish one door from another, and not lose their way. It really changes the whole feel of the environment when you walk through the halls and see that every door looks different, it looks like a real neighbourhood.

Click here for more details.


SSCHS Revamps Senior Transportation Van Program

Services de santé de Chapleau Health Services (SSCHS) was recently approved as a designated Third Party Agency by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care under the Northern Health Travel Grant Program (NHTG). This designation will allow clients of the Senior Transportation Van to sign Section 4 of their Northern Travel Grant for the costs of the travel to be covered directly by the program.

Click here for details.