MANITOULIN—The Noojmowin Teg-Mnaamodzawin Health Centre in Aundeck Omni Kaning has recently expanded to meet the growing needs of the organizations and the individuals they serve.
Noojmowin Teg-Mnaamodzawin Executive Director Pamela Williamson took The Expositor on a tour of the new $2.36 million 4,400 square foot expansion, explaining the roles of the two organizations and the services they provide.
“We have been working on this expansion since 2005 and in 2010 we were transferred to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and became eligible for funding,” said Ms. Williamson.
She explained that Mnaamodzawin and Noojmowin Teg are separate organizations, but are housed together and agreed to expand together if one of them were able to obtain funding.
As both organizations are housed together and share common spaces, there is often confusion over what each organization’s role is.
Ms. Williamson said one of the main differences between the two organizations is that Noojmowin Teg is funded provincially, while Mnaamodzawin is funded federally.
Noojmowin Teg serves all the First Nations, working with three main health authorities: the Nahndahweh Tchigehgaming Wikwemikong Health Centre, M’Chigeeng Health Services and Mnaamodzawin.
Mnaamodzawin provides health services for the five area First Nations that don’t have their own health authorities including Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK), Sheguiandah, Zhiibaahahasing, Sheshegwaning and Whitefish River.
Noojmowin Teg is made up of several departments, which include: primary care (physicians and nurses), allied health, the diabetes wellness team, aging at home, community dietitians, traditional medicine, mental health and addictions and health promotion.
“The new building (addition) includes a multi-purpose room which we can use for workshops or meetings,” said Ms. Williamson. “Previously we had to use the AOK Community Centre for meetings. We had staff offices and clinic rooms mixed, but now they are in separate areas.”
Noojmowin Teg has grown so rapidly, from 12 employees in 1999 to 35 this year, that some had offices in cubicles behind the building, but the new addition is able to house 15 providers.
Within the new addition there is a primary care wing, clinic area (including medical examination room), mental health and counselling area (which also includes equipment to access the Ontario Telemedical Network) and traditional medicine area (including a healing lodge).
“We had the bathroom built (in the clinic area) to meet requirements to serve sexual assault or physical violence patients in the future or methadone clients if the need arises in the future,” Ms. Williamson said. “Currently anyone (non-aboriginal individuals as well) who requires a rape kit must travel to Sudbury to Health Sciences North. We are looking for funding to help bridge that gap and hopefully to be able to provide that service in the future.”
The healing lodge is available for meditation and is also used to give teachings, while the cedar room is a traditional healing clinic including services such as energy work and cedar baths. A garden outside the cedar room will be the future home of a traditional medicine garden, Ms. Williamson noted.
Ms. Williamson stressed the importance of ensuring that staff are healthy at the Noojmowin Teg-Mnaamodzawin Health Centre and that smudges are done on the building when there is a need and that the healing lodge and teachings are available to them.
“It is important that the people providing health services to our community members are healthy,” the ED reiterated.
Moving forward Ms. Williamson sees further growth for Noojmowin Teg, finding gaps and continuing to create a circle of care for patients through working with Island partners.