Norway House getting new $100 million health care centre

The federal government is spending $100 million over five years to build a new health care facility in Norway House Cree Nation, Indigenous Services Canada Minister Jane Philpott announced Sept. 7.

“Our government is fully committed to supporting First Nations-led health transformation in our shared priority of improving health outcomes for First Nations people,” said Philpott in a news release. “Today’s announcement for a new health facility in Norway House Cree Nation is an example of our government’s partnership in this endeavour, and I congratulate Chief [Larson] Anderson and the entire community for their leadership in making this project a reality. In the future this facility will be the largest health centre in Manitoba history under First Nations leadership.”

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The Norway House Cree Nation Centre of Health Care Excellence was designed in consultation with the community to meet its current and future needs. It will include a family birthing centre with two birthing rooms, one designed specifically to accommodate midwifery support. There will also be an emergency care department with one two-bay trauma room, one major procedure room, two observation stretchers, four exam/treatment rooms and one bariatric isolation exam room.

“Today is a historic day for our community, Norway House Cree Nation is honoured that Indigenous Services Canada recognizes the strength and capacity of our nation to design and build this facility,” said Larson. “This new state-of-the-art facility will not only address the health care needs of our community, but will also create education, training and employment opportunities for our people, while empowering our health programs to further strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders and enhance community based services.”

Non-medical facilities will include a centralized cultural hall with adjacent conference and learning facilities, including a teaching kitchen, as well as a sweat lodge, an accommodations building and a maintenance garage. There will also be community owned and operated retail pharmacy operations.

“The federal government’s investment in health infrastructure in Norway House is a significant step to address the current healthcare inequity in this community,” said Norway House hospital chief of staff Dr. Adrienne Morrow, who is also the seniot medical advisor for the new health care centre. “In addition to addressing the healthcare needs of the community, it will continue to serve as a training hub for physicians who will go on to work in other underserviced areas in Manitoba and Canada.”

Ongomiizwin, the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing, will continue to provide physician services and the primary care clinic space is specifically designed to support an integrated care model and all current and future education and training activities.

“The development of this health centre is the culmination of 30 years of vision and planning; starting with the birth of adult education and post-secondary education in our community which has resulted in Norway House graduating our own nurses, physicians, x-ray technicians, lab technicians and support staff,” said Dr. Courtney Campbell, a Norway House Cree Nation member as well as a lecturer in the University of Manitoba’s family medicine department and the site education lead in Norway House. “This is a health centre that will be built by Indigenous people, run by Indigenous people, in our territory and using our traditional language to serve our community and teach future health care providers. When we speak of improving health outcomes of Indigenous peoples of Canada, Norway House will be at the forefront of that change.”

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