Government of Alberta Visits Siksika Nation for Key Health Discussions

On Wednesday, April 24, 2024 representatives from the Government of Alberta visited Siksika Nation to speak with Siksika Health Services’ CEO, Team Leaders, and Board members. Important topics such as the province’s “Refocusing Health Care in Alberta” initiative; Continuing Care and the Siksika Elders Lodge; Community Wellness, Mental Health, and Addictions; Primary Care; and Disabilities were addressed, and allowed for meaningful dialogue among the participants.

Over the last 10+ years, the Government of Alberta has undertaken a number of activities, reviews, and issued reports with the aim of improving access to healthcare in the province. From these, similar themes and recommendations emerged, leading to their refocusing on a single health care system model with 4 focused organizations: Primary Care, Acute Care, Continuing Care, and Mental Health & Addictions. Concurrently, Siksika Health Services continuously endeavours to listen, learn, innovate and evolve as a leader in healthcare, even amidst the jurisdictional, resourcing, and discrimination challenges that Indigenous people and organizations are up against.

As Siksika Health Board Chair, Marsha Wolf Collar reminded the group, quoting Siksika Nation Chief, Ouray Crowfoot: “We’re not asking for special treatment; we’re asking for equitable treatment.”

Siksika Health Team Leaders provided information about their programs and services, including:

  • Siksika Health’s Recovery-Oriented System of Care: a person-centered trauma recovery model for those dealing with mental health and addictions challenges. This model has been in place in Siksika since 2018 and incorporates both Siksika cultural and Western practices;
  • Comprehensive medical services provided by Siksika Clinical Services: 10 Family Practice Physicians, 3 Nurse Practitioners, 5 visiting specialists (Rheumatologist, Dermatologist, Geriatrician, Pediatrician, and Internal Medicine Internist) who together see more than 8,000 patients per year at the Siksika Health & Wellness Centre;
  • The Four Domains of Advanced Nursing Practices provided by Siksika Health nursing teams: Clinical Practice, Leadership & Health Systems Optimization, Education & Capacity Building, and Research;
  • Innovations in healthcare such as Siksika’s Community Paramedics, life-saving supports such as onsite Opioid Agonist Therapies and point-of-care testing/treatment for sexually-transmitted & blood-borne infections (STBBIs), and healthcare technologies such as the sensory shoe insoles with remote patient monitoring that help manage and prevent diabetic foot ulcers;
  • Infrastructure upgrades and capacity building for forthcoming new builds, like the Siksika Continuing Care Centre.

Visiting provincial Ministers offered reflections on the innovative leadership shown by Siksika Health teams, and rounded out their visit with a tour of the Siksika Elders Lodge and Siksika Health & Wellness Centre.

Many thanks to Lisa Higgerty, ADM Indigenous Health, Corrine Schalm, ADM Continuing Care, Coreen Everington, ADM Addictions & Mental Health, Dana Mackie, ADM Seniors & Strategic Services, Tara White, Executive Director Mental Health & Addictions, Anna Wowchuck, Executive Director First Nations Relations, Enzo della Rocca, Director of Licensing & Compliance Emergency Medical Services, and Angella Gauthier, Director of Seniors Strategy & Program Support, for visiting Siksika. We look to the future with hope for meaningful change and equitable health outcomes for Siksika Nation members, and Indigenous people in Alberta.

Lisa Higgerty will be revisiting Siksika Nation on April 30, 2024 with the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Health for an Indigenous health information gathering session. Siksika Nation members are invited to attend, at the Siksika Piiksapi Memorial Arbor to meet with their team, and share their perspectives on how to improve the health care system for Siksika Nation members, and Indigenous people across Alberta.