The Emergency Measures team at the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay works with the Cree Nation Government and the communities to ensure that any emergency is responded to promptly.
Emergency responses are collaborative: the Cree Health Board works with public services officers in each community – the police, the fire departments, and others – as well as the Cree School Board and other entities.
For instance, In Mistissini, the team has prepared to protect the community from possible COVID cases in a number of ways. All people driving entering or exiting the community are met at Mistissini’s gates and entered into an electronic database.
Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the Cree Health Board’s Emergency Measures team
"If somebody tests positive after entering the community, we will know exactly when that person came into the community and can quickly build a list of other individuals who have been in contact with the infected person. This enables the team to contain the virus faster."
In addition, should the virus be circulating in Mistissini, the team has established protocols to contain it at the Elders home and at the CMC. When patients arrive at the walk-in clinic, they are triaged and sent into one of the CMC’s three zones: the red, yellow, and green zone. Designated health care staff take charge of each zone. “This way patients are not wandering around in the clinic,” says Coonishish.
Finally, the Canadian Government highly recommends that everyone use a phone app called COVID alert, which will let the user know if they have been near someone who has been diagnosed with COVID, and the Cree Health Board is encouraging everyone in Eeyou Istchee to download and use this app.
Not all emergencies are related to COVID-19
Recently in Chisasibi, the Multi-Service Day Centre burned. Early in the pandemic, Elders who had been in the hospital were moved to the MSDC to protect them from potential COVID cases in the hospital, and the MSDC had been functioning as an Elders home ever since.
Because of the fire the Elders were moved back to the hospital, but this was far from ideal, so the Emergency Measures response team then prepared the upstairs area of Chisasibi’s banquet hall to house the Elders, and they have moved there.
“We don't want to send them down south – we want to keep them here. And we want to keep them out of the hospital so that they can have visits from their families.” - Jason Coonishish