Improving the overall holistic health of community members is the goal for the Onion Lake Health Board. To do this the board has plenty of resources at its disposal, as it manages a clinic – where patients can see physicians five days a week – along with lab and X-ray services. Onion Lake also has its own pharmacy and on-reserve ambulance service – many things most other First Nations communities do not have.
The board is also a major employer in Onion Lake as it has over 100 staff members and manages the following programs and services:
- Onion Lake Ambulance Services
- Onion Lake pharmacy services
- Physician services
- Dental therapist/In-school dental program
- Ekweskeet Treatment Centre
- Maternal Child Health/FASD Program
- Medical Transportation Program
- Nurse in charge/Nurse manager
- Home and Community Care
- Community Wellness Program
- Group Home
- Assisted Living Home
There are many challenges facing the Onion Lake Health Board as it attempts to provide adequate services for all members of the community. Under-funding is a major concern, but there are also communication difficulties – both internally to Band members, and externally to other health regions – and human resource shortages. Despite these obstacles the department has made headway with numerous achievements:
- Established service agreements for physician, lab and X-ray services; currently three doctors attend to the Onion Lake Health Centre.
- An adult dental clinic was launched with modern equipment that provides a full-range of services comparable to any dental clinic outside the reserve.
- The Onion Lake First Nations Health Act and Privacy Act were passed – with the assistance of Onion Lake Treaty Governance – by referendum in December 2015.
- Established MTC (Mobile Treatment Centre) vehicle for industrial emergency services, and look to get contract work in the oil industry – Black Pearl.
- Received Primer Accreditation status after a survey was done last year, and the department will look for full accreditation when the main survey is taken in January 2018.
- Department developed its own IT network that is secure.
The Onion Lake Health Board provides services in a manner consistent with traditional and modern values and practices, and sensitive to individual needs – and also under the provision of the Treaty 6 Medicine Chest. The Board has the vision of providing an accessible, holistic First Nation’s health system with a fully-integrated, sustainable and modern infrastructure – one that is managed by First Nations professionals for the Band and community members of the Onion Lake Cree Nation. To accomplish this the Board requires strong leadership. Current members on the Board include:
- Ms. Jean Whitford
- Mr. Wallace Fox
- Mr. Dunlop Muskego
- Ms. Carole Harper
- Mr. Owen Morris
Portfolio for OL Health is Mr. Leon Whitstone,
Alternate Mr. Walter Pahtayken
Moving forward the department has outlined the following goals it hopes to complete within the following year:
- Negotiate a treaty-base agreement
- Develop a treaty-base health budget
- Negotiate funding to build a new integrated health facility
- Acquire full accreditation
- New home for 0-12 age group
- Secure a contract with Black Pearl for industrial emergency services
- Link time clock with payroll system