COVID-19 Vaccines Arriving at SLMHC

This week, the first COVID-19 vaccines will be administered at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre’s (SLMHC) William A. George Extended Care Facility (ECU).  The residents and front-line staff are the first to receive the Health Canada approved Moderna vaccine in Sioux Lookout, marking the start of Ontario’s vaccination implementation plan for our region.

SLMHC is a 60-bed acute care hospital with a 20-bed off campus extended care facility, serving residents of Sioux Lookout and the surrounding area, including Hudson, Pickle Lake, Savant Lake, and the 28 First Nation communities in our region.

On the evening of January 5, the first vials of the Moderna vaccine arrived at the Ornge hangar in Sioux Lookout, ON. Representatives from Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre were on hand to receive the vaccines and ensure immediate, proper storage. These staff included Heather Lee, President and CEO, Karen Parent, Director of Clinical Support Services and Cody Buswa, SLMHC Security. “We are grateful for the exceptional relationship between the hospital and Ornge.  Our province is extremely fortunate to have this outstanding group of staff provide high-quality care and transport service, especially in our fight against COVID-19” states Heather Lee.   Pictured above: Cody Buswa, Karen Parent, Heather Lee, Ron Laverty (Sioux Lookout Base Manager, Ornge), Kaj Nummelin (Pilot, Thunder Air), Tim Eckensviller (Pilot, Thunder Air) and Adrian Perrier (Primary Care Medic, Thunder Air).

“We are grateful to be the first rural and northern community hospital to receive the Moderna vaccine,” said Heather Lee, President and CEO of SLMHC.  “Like so many health care organizations, our health care team has worked tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to maintain and exceed practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19 in anticipation of this moment.  We appreciate the exceptional efforts that the provincial task-force, under the direction of Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, has demonstrated in protecting the vast number of Ontario’s most vulnerable population.”

The province is rolling out the vaccine in three phases, with a focus on the most vulnerable populations first. In addition to administering vaccines to residents and staff of the ECU, SLMHC chronic care patients and all hospital staff will receive the vaccine in the days ahead, in alignment with the first phase.   

“The arrival of vaccines in Sioux Lookout is a vital milestone in our fight against COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Our government is committed to vaccinating our most vulnerable, including those living in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities, as quickly as possible. As we continue to receive more doses, we will ensure that every person who wants a vaccine, no matter where they live, will receive one.”

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on residents and staff at long-term care homes and hospitals across the country. The health care team at SLMHC applaud the leadership and residents in each of the communities served in our region, who have done an outstanding job of implementing and adhering to restrictions.  These efforts are reflected in the low incidence of the virus seen in the area.

“We are working with the Ministry of Health to plan the rollout of the vaccine at SLMHC and support our health care partners as they work to provide the vaccine to those identified in this first phase,” explained Lee. “We are continuing to work closely with the Ministry of Health and other partners in health, including Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and the Northwestern Health Unit, in our advocacy for continued implementation of the vaccination plan.”

 “This is an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19 as the administration of vaccines begins in Sioux Lookout. Our government continues to ensure that the vaccine rollout reaches every corner of our province to protect frontline workers, long-term care residents and remote Indigenous communities as quickly as possible,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “We continue to work closely with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and other Indigenous partners to ensure an efficient and culturally appropriate vaccine rollout to First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.”

 “We are very pleased to have our staff and residents prioritized to receive the vaccine during this phase,” said Cynthia Dwyer, Administrator at William A. George Extended Care Facility. “This vaccination adds a level of protection in our continued efforts to protect our residents, patients, staff and physicians. We also appreciate that with this Moderna vaccine we will be able to administer the vaccine to our residents in the comfort of their home. This has allowed this process to be done in a way that keeps them safe and comfortable.”

To find out more about the province of Ontario’s immunization program and three phase roll-out, as well as the vaccinations approved for use in Ontario (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech), visit