The Impact of Indigenous Mental Health on Healthcare Equity

Healthcare disparities among Indigenous communities are no foreign concept in Canada—these outcomes are deeply rooted in the determinants of health that must be addressed in order to build an equitable health system. 

“Equity” should not be confused with “equality.”  

It is worth noting that equity and equality are two entirely different concepts. While equity tends to rely on the ideology of fairness, equality promotes impartiality. According to Health Quality Ontario, “Health equity allows people to reach their full health potential and receive high-quality care that is fair and appropriate to them and their needs, no matter where they live, what they have or who they are… a high-quality health system recognizes and respects social, cultural and linguistic differences”. By definition, health care equity is a “sub-set of health equity” in which a health system is able to effectively provide equitable health care (Health Quality Ontario, 2019).

Indigenous Mental Health in Canada

The alarming rates of poverty, unemployment, child apprehension, poor education, and public services are all contributing factors to the declining mental health of Indigenous peoples. These communities are challenged with a “disproportionate burden of disparity” that comes with low income and substandard living conditions (Richmond et al., 2016). In a recent report from Statistics Canada, mental health disparities between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Canada have demonstrated to be directly linked to the intergenerational effects of residential schools, the forced relocation of communities and removal of children from families and communities, and mental health services gaps. The report also claims that the adverse mental health outcomes of the Indigenous have resulted from childhood adversity, trauma, discrimination, as well as social determinants of health such as unemployment, housing, poverty, and food security (Government of Canada, 2020).

Indigenous Mental Health and the Pandemic

According to Statistics Canada, 6 in 10 Indigenous participants report that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing (Arriagada et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the mental health concerns of Indigenous communities as the inability to socialize in-person creates unfamiliar and stressful situations. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) also describes how factors such as geographical isolation, high levels of pre-existing health conditions and inadequate housing are associated with a higher risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Understanding the Impact

A 2010 American research study indicates that patient race/ethnicity can influence physician interpretation of patients’ complaints and, ultimately, clinical decision making (Sorkin et al., 2010). Over time, these biases towards certain populations become rooted in healthcare systems and become significantly more difficult to eliminate. As such, it is crucial for healthcare institutions to prioritize Indigenous and other marginalized communities. In an era of healthcare transformation, moving towards a system that is equitable will help improve the quality of health services being provided and ultimately increase sustainability.

References

Arriagada, P., Hahmann, T., & O’Donnell, V. (2020, June 23). Indigenous people and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00035-eng.htm.

Government of Canada, S. C. (2020, April 17). First Nations people, Métis and Inuit and COVID-19: Health and social characteristics. The Daily . https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200417/dq200417b-eng.htm

Health Quality Ontario. (2019). Health Quality Ontario’s Health Equity Plan. http://www.hqontario.ca/portals/0/documents/health-quality/health_equity_plan_report_en.pdf.

Richmond, C. A. M., & Cook, C. (2016, July 20). Creating conditions for Canadian aboriginal health equity: the promise of healthy public policy. Public Health Reviews. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40985-016-0016-5.

Sorkin, D. H., Ngo-Metzger, Q., & De Alba, I. (2010, May). Racial/ethnic discrimination in health care: impact on perceived quality of care. Journal of general internal medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855001/.

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently volunteers with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

Vaccination Hesitancy: Know Your Risks

Although vaccination hesitancy has been a great concern for decades, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has increased speculation surrounding the likelihood of adverse and potentially fatal effects that vaccines may cause. In a recent Canadian study, vaccination hesitancy has been demonstrated to stem from individual safety, concerns with political and economic factors driving the vaccine rollout, having limited knowledge about vaccines in general, misleading and false information, as well as a lack of legal liability from vaccine companies. Moreover, there is a demonstrated level of mistrust due to health care institutions’ history of neglecting and ultimately marginalizing communities with fewer resources (Griffith et. al, 2021). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the worst threats to global health is vaccination hesitancy. 

Seconds Anyone?

With Canada putting a pause on AstraZeneca distributions to new recipients, there has been recent controversy on whether those who have already received their first dose are at any significant risk. Public health officials have assured that those who have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine did the right thing at the time and should not feel remorse for acting quickly to receive their first shot (Arthur, 2021).

The real discussion, however, is what the next steps are for those who have already received their first dose—whether to proceed with their second dose of AstraZeneca or to mix and match with a dose of an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. According to a recent Spanish trial of over 600 participants, those who had received the Pfizer vaccine after taking their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine demonstrated a significantly greater antibody response (Callaway, 2021). However, it is still unclear how these results will compare to the antibody response from combining two different mRNA vaccines. While researchers seem to agree that mixing vaccines could provide a better overall immune response, there is currently no concrete evidence on whether mixing vaccines in general is a better option than taking a second dose of the same vaccine.  

If you have already taken the AstraZeneca vaccine and/or have underlying conditions, it is in your best interest to consult with your primary physician to help determine what the best option is for you.

Weighing the Risks

A concept that many may find difficult to digest is that the risk of contracting severe COVID-19 is substantially greater than the risks associated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Long story short, it is highly recommended to get the vaccine if you are eligible and have the means to do so because, at this point in time, your chances of ending up in the ICU are much higher than experiencing severe side effects from a vaccine. With over 19 million Canadians already receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. That being said, vaccination hesitancy is still a growing concern and needs to be addressed through the implementation of public health interventions that work to educate, resolve concerns, and rebuild trust in our healthcare system. 

At the end of the day, all vaccines come with their own set of risks and side effects. While it is important to be well aware of these individual risks, it is crucial to understand that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine not only provides individual benefits but also alleviates stress on hospitals and benefits the population as a whole. If we want to #conquercovid we need to have as many people vaccinated as possible; the more people who are hesitant and choose to “wait”, the longer it will take to reduce the number of cases and return to normal. 

References

Arthur, B. (2021, May 12). Why pausing AstraZeneca was the right move – and why you probably were right to get it. thestar.com. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2021/05/11/why-ontario-made-the-right-move-by-pausing-astrazeneca-vaccines-and-why-if-you-got-it-you-probably-did-the-right-thing.html

Callaway, E. (2021, May 19). Mix-and-match COVID vaccines trigger potent immune response. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01359-3.

Griffith, J., Marani, H., & Monkman, H. (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada: Content Analysis of Tweets Using the Theoretical Domains Framework. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(4). https://doi.org/10.2196/26874

Bibliography

Ferguson, R. (2021, May 11). Ontario pauses first doses of AstraZeneca over clot concerns. thestar.com. https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2021/05/11/covid-19-vaccines-for-teens-coming-soon-but-adults-still-a-priority-ontario-says.html.

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently volunteers with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

The Barriers of Immunization

Although Canada’s vaccine distribution numbers seem promising, the inevitable barriers that come with wanting to immunize an entire country are yet to be completely addressed. Some of the most common challenges include lacking technological support and digital literacy, distribution inequities, language barriers, and an overall fear of vaccines that is instilled through misinformation and false news.

COVID-19 is complicated. Booking a vaccine appointment shouldn’t be.  

It is common knowledge that technology has its drawbacks; however, it can be difficult to process how tedious such a “simple” task can become. From long waiting times to constantly refreshing booking sites in hopes of an empty time slot becoming available—not to mention the frustration of having your appointment cancelled and having to go through the process all over again. With ‘tech savvy’ individuals struggling to book appointments on their own, those who are unfamiliar with virtual bookings are left in the dark. 

While pop-up and walk-in sites attempt to resolve this issue, the hesitancy and/or struggle to receive the COVID-19 vaccine continues to persist. 

Fighting the Inequities of Vaccine Distribution

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout as a “scandalous inequity”. According to WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the “small group of countries [including Canada] that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world” (Nebehay, 2021). In the same interview, Dr. Tedros emphasizes that nobody should assume they are safe as long as the virus continues to exist elsewhere. 

The inequities of vaccine distribution are also prevalent at the provincial level. In Ontario, many of the ‘hot spot’ locations that were initially prioritized demonstrated a “lower-than-average pandemic burden” (Crawley, 2021). In early April, the CBC identified seven other postal codes that experienced a greater impact yet were not categorized as ‘hotspot’ locations. Each of these locations were located in the ridings of oppositional parties (Crawley, 2021). 

Overcoming the Language Barrier

Language barriers have always been a challenge for marginalized communities; living in a COVID-19 hotspot however only amplifies these challenges (Lampa, 2021). With over half of Canada’s Rohingya population residing in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, community leaders have claimed that the past year has been extremely difficult due to the Rohingya-English language barrier (Lampa, 2021). It is nearly impossible for many of the Rohingya to access vaccine resources as they are dependent on translators to help them understand COVID-19 protocols. In spite of the regions’ efforts to help the community by developing a video in the Rohingya language, it is not enough to overcome the divide between the non-english speaking Rohingya and the residents of Waterloo.

An ideal strategy in such scenarios would be to match patients with healthcare providers who either speak the same language or share a similar ethnic background. According to Anderson (2014), providing patients with a sense of familiarity in this context may help alleviate the concerns and questions they may want answered prior to receiving their vaccine.

Addressing Vaccine Conspiracies: Educating Gen Z

In an attempt to target Gen Z, medical worker Steven Ho utilizes his biting humor to address the common myths of the COVID-19 vaccine through TikTok (Pikett, 2021). Through this medium, Ho educates the younger generation in hopes of allowing them to teach their elderly caregivers who may not understand the notion of vaccines in general. In a particular video, Ho compares the COVID-19 vaccine to a birth control pill or a seatbelt—while all three of these entities provide a high degree of protection, Ho explains that there is a fine line between having a high degree of protection and 100% protection. Ho also sheds light on the theory that the COVID-19 vaccines contain tracking microchips and satirically claims that there is no need for a microchip vaccine as our cellular devices have already fulfilled the job.

When all is said and done

Immunization barriers will not go away on their own, and will continue to persist beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, it is crucial that as Canadians we are aware of these barriers to help better understand the needs of marginalized communities as well as the privilege we have of being able to receive a vaccine at all.

References

Anderson, E. L. (2014). Recommended solutions to the barriers to immunization in children and adults. Missouri medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179470/.

Crawley, M. (2021, April 13). Some areas not hard-hit by COVID-19 getting vaccination priority in Ontario, data reveals | CBC News. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-covid-19-vaccination-postal-code-hot-spots-1.5983155.

Lampa, N. (2021, April 15). ‘We feel like we are on an island’: Cultural, language barriers difficult for Rohingyan population living in COVID-19 hot spots. Kitchener. https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/we-feel-like-we-are-on-an-island-cultural-language-barriers-difficult-for-rohingyan-population-living-in-covid-19-hot-spots-1.5389196.

Nebehay, S. (2021, May 24). ‘Scandalous inequity’: WHO says 75% of vaccines given out in just 10 countries. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7888608/who-covid-vaccine-sharing-inequity/.

Pickett, J. (2021, February 1). Tiktok docs you should be following. stethoscopemagazine.org. http://stethoscopemagazine.org/2021/02/01/tiktok-docs-you-should-be-following/.

Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.

10 Health Hacks For Canada’s 149th Birthday & Canada Day Holiday Hours

Over here at iamsick.ca, we’re all about boosting and improving the health of our fellow Canadians.

For the Canada Day long weekend, we’ve collected holiday hours for healthcare services, so you can easily use the iamsick.ca website or iPhone, Android or BB10 app to see whether a pharmacy or clinic is open.

And, to celebrate Canada Day, we’ve created a list of 10 cool health hacks that celebrate and advance our daily marriage with our own health.  Here they are!

1 – Nappuccinos
What is this sorcery? Nap…puccinos? The last time I had coffee before taking a nap, I lay awake on my bed jittering uncontrollably for 40 minutes. But as with all techniques, effective execution is necessary for its success.

Time for a super quick (simplified) science lesson:Your body consumes molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to release energy, and produces adenosine molecules as a result. In the brain, adenosine can act as a central nervous system depressant, which makes us sleepy. The longer we stay awake, the more adenosine accumulates; when we sleep, the body replenishes ATP from the produced adenosine (a.k.a. rest). Caffeine keeps us awake because it essentially acts by blocking the effects of adenosine.In concept, napping and caffeine both do the same thing – they make us more awake by reducing the effects of adenosine. So it’s really no surprise that the two paired together are an effective strategy to potentiate naps. You see, caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in – so if you consume a cup of coffee and immediately take a quick power nap, you wake up with a wonderfully compounded wakefulness!

2 – Train your brain! (with music)
Music is such an intrinsic and natural component of life. Everywhere from the rustle of the leaves to the whispers of the wind, melodies arise and caress our ears. But we usually don’t pay much attention to what this could actually be doing for us. Music is actually shown to exert many benefits on our health that are worth learning about:
– Music, as a distraction element, can effectively reduce the perception of pain, and improve performance during physical activity.
– Music has a huge impact on mental health, being shown to help combat depression, relieve stress, and just to elevate moods in general.
– Music (especially when playing music) is shown to boost neuroplasticity and cognitive performance.
So why not try exploring some new genres or types of music this Canada Day? Taking care of mental health is equally if not more important than physical health, and music is a very easy way to do it.

3 – Download our app!
Sometimes health might escape us. But that’s okay. The most important thing to do when we fall is to get up. And we can help you with that. Remember to download iamsick.ca app on Android, iOS, or Blackberry (or just use the web app). Our app is tiny in size and big in impact, so you won’t need to worry about it taking up your precious smartphone storage space while also having it ready to help you when you least expect it.  You can do all sorts of things with our app.. like check where the nearest walk-in clinic is, book your doctor’s appointment online, find doctors accepting new patients (including clinics with doctors that let you book appointments online), look for diagnostic labs, and even see real-time wait times for walk-ins that use our virtual waiting room service! What’s even better is that for the upcoming Canada Day long weekend, we’ll display updated holiday hours.. so you can access healthcare when & where you need it. Even if you just need to pick up some sunscreen at a local pharmacy, we’ll help you protect your skin! Our service is especially useful to keep those on great Canadian road trips healthy.. if you’re visiting a new place, you can rely on use to ensure that your nearest healthcare options are just a couple of taps away if anything (hopefully not) happens.

4 – Ditch the whiskers
Allergy season got you down under the weather? Rocking a sick moustache? Well… it’s time to make a decision. It turns out that moustache hair is very good at trapping pollen and other airborne allergens (like pollen grains) that trigger seasonal allergies. A very easy and quick fix to this without having to take those drowsiness-inducing antihistamines would be to…ditch the whiskers and shave that ‘stache. Alternatively, as hygiene is ALWAYS important, making sure to clean your facial hair regularly throughout the day could achieve a similar effect.

5 – Offer to dog sit
Ever heard of dog therapy? It turns out that having dogs as company has great therapeutic effects. Playing with a dog can increase levels of the stress-suppressing hormone oxytocin, while simultaneously lowering your body’s production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Other benefits include lowering blood pressure, increasing
post-heart-attack lifespans, and a general increased happiness. So… if your neighbours are planning a road trip for the Canada Day weekend but can’t take their dog with them… why not be a  benevolent member of the community and pick up on some dog-sitting with a side of mental therapy?

6 – Hypothermia
Okay, this one’s even weirder than the nappuccino tip. Hypothermia? And the summer? Compromised heat regulation…in the heat of the summer? It just doesn’t make sense… Well, as it turns out, the CDC has found that there’s been an alarming number of deaths occurring due to hypothermia… in June.Why? Well, the answer is simple, really. People are unprepared. In the winter, everybody likes to bundle up with layers upon layers upon layers. But in the summer, it’s very common for people to go for a dip in the lake at the cottage (even at night), and just walk around in swim-clothes, unaware that their body heat may be declining rapidly. The tip here, is to stay prepared. Towels and light extra layers are key, especially if you’re planning on getting wet!

7 – Apply cold (tea) to area of burnThis tip is super useful for the summer. If you find yourself sunburned in the hot summer sun (you should be putting on sunscreen to prevent this in the first place), or brushed against some poison ivy, or bitten by mosquitoes, you can use TEA as a remedy! The many natural organic compounds in tea have many powerful therapeutic effects. Black tea applied to sunburns can speed recovery. Anti-inflammatory agents in chamomile tea can reduce irritation from poison ivy and bug bites. Biting into tea bags can also be used to relieve cold sores! Check out this article on Greatist.com for more information about the amazing benefits of tea: http://greatist.com/health/treat-sunburns-tea-and-other-tips

8 – Sniff some fruits and flowers
Having a bad day? Headache’s got you down? Can’t sleep? Mother nature’s full of solutions – and they’re easier to access than you think. Studies have found that odorous molecules released by oranges can relieve anxiety and boost mood, the scent of green apples can reduce the magnitude of pain perception in some individuals, and the scent of lavender oil has soothing effects that can facilitate the sleeping process. I guess whoever said that you need to take time to “step back and smell the roses” was on to something… 

9 – Exercise with your immune system!
People are always nagging you to do exercise because “it’s good for you”, but often don’t really offer much more information beyond that. So how do you actually know it’s good? Well… it goes deeper than “it boosts your metabolism” or “it makes you feel good”. It turns out that when you regularly do exercise, you are concurrently training your immune system (that part of your body that defends against illnesses and infections) to be stronger. Ever heard of a white blood cell? Well, there are several types of these, and two of them are directly impacted by your levels of exercise.Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells) are the virus and cancer-killing white blood cells. Your body is constantly producing “busted” cells that have the chance of developing into cancers… but the reason why everyone doesn’t have cancer is that their NK cells are there to destroy the bad cells before they can do damage. Macrophages (a.k.a. “big-eaters”), are another member of your body’s general immune defense, and literally eat up illness-inducing pathogens that may enter your system. Doing exercise has been found to boost the number of NK cells AND making them more powerful, while also making macrophages more responsive to your body’s chemical signals, and more capable of destroying unwanted invaders. Exercise, then, not only makes you stronger, but makes you more resistant to disease and keeps you healthier for longer!So…yeah. Next time someone tells you that “exercise is good for you”, make sure THEY know why too.

10 – Tune your mind to your body
Have you ever just looked at your hands and marvelled at how, with barely a thought, you can make your fingers move exactly how you want? Have you ever sat down and just wondered how all the multiple molecular intricacies in your body dance together to create the fully functioning organism that is you? So many of us simply take our bodies for granted, without realizing how amazing this complex vessel we are born with and grow with for our entire lives really is. Cited in multiple realms with different names, such as “mind-muscle connection” in weightlifting, “zen” in Buddhism, or “mindfulness” in colloquial terms, establishing a connection between your mind and your body is a topic of increasing importance. This mindfulness allows for the defusing of stress, a momentary reset, and just feeling more in tune with yourself as a person. Check out these 5 bonus health tips to get started on your journey to become more mindful in your everyday environment: http://www.mindful.org/5-tips-for-practicing-mindfulness-at-the-office/

Happy Canada Day everybody!!!  We hope these health hacks are useful to help you live happier every day.

Love,

The iamsick.ca Team

Sources

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16453980

http://greatist.com/happiness/unexpected-health-benefits-music

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/news-story/0937a947dbc07abd0ca0e643adf44e85

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health-advice/nine-weird-health-tips-that-work/news-story/0937a947dbc07abd0ca0e643adf44e85

http://animalsmart.org/species/dogs/dogs-help-reduce-stress

http://www.theactivetimes.com/summer-hypothermia-4-tips-preventing-unexpected

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16095639

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/green-apple-scent.aspx

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9129266

http://www.nature.com/icb/journal/v78/n5/full/icb200075a.html

http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

Happy Birthday Canada!

Happy 147th birthday Canada!  Canada Day We have a lot to be proud of as a country.  From the Canadian Pacific Railway to Universal Healthcare, Canadians from the past and present have truly made Canada one of the best places to live! iamsick.ca is launching a blog series highlighting some of the top travel destinations in Ontario.  When you’re these locations, keep the iamsick app handy just in case! To commemorate Canada Day, let’s start with Ottawa, the capital of Canada. Ottawa 1) Parliament Hill

CanadaDay

House the offices of the members of Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate. The perfect place to celebrate Canada Day with free concerts, fireworks and 25,000+ fellow Canadians.  Enter the Parliament Buildings for a free guided tours that delves into Canadian history and explains the workings of our political system. 2) Rideau Canal

rideau_canal_summer_winter_thumb

One of the oldest landmarks in Ottawa, this canal is filled with boats in the summer and becomes the “World’s Longest Skating Rink” in the winter.  You can paddle the full 202 km length of the Rideau Canal from Lake Ontario [Kingston] to Ottawa River [Ottawa] through 45 locks, and in the winter you can skate the 7.8 km length of the Rideau Canal skateway from Carleton University (Hartwell Locks) to downtown Ottawa (Chateau Laurier), including Dow’s Lake in between.  Dow’s Lake is also home to an annual Ice Sculpture competition, and other Winterlude festivities.  You can also find warming stations, beavertails & hot chocolate along the length of the canal. 3) Peace Tower

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The Peace Tower commemorates the end of World War I, and harbours the best view of Ottawa. Nearly 100 m tall, it is located in the front middle of the Center Block building of the Canadian Parliament.  Inside the Peace Tower is the Memorial Chamber and a Carillon. 4) National Museums & Galleries OttawaMuseums Ottawa is home to many National Museums & Galleries.  These include the Canadian Agriculture & Food Museum (aka Experimental Farm), the Canadian Aviation & Space Museum, the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Science & Technology Museum, the Canadian War Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint, and many local historical museums and galleries. Explore the collection of artifacts, unforgettable photos, art & knowledge that have shaped Canada into what it is today. 5) ByWard Market

bywardmarket

Ottawa’s ByWard Market is a few blocks from Parliament Hill, and is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets.  You’ll find cafés, galleries, museums, specialty food shops, boutiques, restaurants, pubs, busking, and even the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.  It’s farmer’s market is open year-round, and offers fresh produce, flowers, baked goods and crafts.  With many outdoor patios & street performers busking, it is a great place to take a stroll while visiting Ottawa.   Ottawa Weather

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The average July maximum temperature is 26.5 °C (80 °F), and the average January minimum temperature is −14.8 °C (5.4 °F). Winters can be very cold with temperatures dropping as low as −36 °C (−32.8 °F), while summers are warm and humid. Daytime temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher are commonplace. So, it’s important to bundle up to avoid frostbite and windburn in the winter, and to keep hydrated and slather on the sunscreen in the summer.  Don’t forget that you can use the iamsick.ca app to find the nearest open pharmacy to pick up sunscreen, drinks, mitts, and pocket handwarmers. Healthcare Providers Near the Attractions

1) James Street Medical Clinic

613-233-6240 58 James Street (near Bank St & Somerset St W) Ottawa , K2P 0T6 

2) Watson’s Pharmacy and Wellness Centre – Ottawa East

613-238-1881 192 Main Street (near Main St & Lees Ave – a few blocks from Rideau Canal) Ottawa , K1S 1C2  http://www.watsonspharma.com

3) Rexall – Sparks & Bank

613-238-1198 240 Sparks Street – Unit C-102 (on Sparks Street – 2 blocks from Parliament Hill) Ottawa , K1P 6Z9  http://www.rexall.ca

4) Bruyère Pharmacy

613-562-6308 75 Bruyere Street (near Sussex Drive & King Edward Avenue – next to Royal Canadian Mint) Ottawa , K1N 5C8 http://www.bruyere.org/bruyere-pharmacy

5) Ottawa Hospital – Civic Campus

613-761-5355 1053 Carling Avenue (near Carling Avenue & Parkdale Avenue – near Dow’s Lake & Experimental Farm ) Ottawa , K1Y 4E9  http://www.ottawahospital.on.ca/   To search for more healthcare providers near you, visit: iamsick.ca.

 

Outdoor Safety

Outdoor Safety

Happy-family-father

 

Now that Summer has finally come to Canada (woohoo!), it means Canadians can enjoy the weather outside and do activities that are closer to nature such as camping, gardening and visiting parks. However, humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy the warm weather; warm weather also attracts ticks, mosquitoes and fleas. When enjoying outdoor activities, one must be careful of bugs such as ticks, which can transmit lyme disease and other infections. A study conducted in Nova Scotia found that more children are contracting lyme related arthritis and that the majority of documented case came from the past two years. Lyme disease is on the rise in Canada, especially since ticks are found in six provinces in Canada and is continuously spreading into various neighbourhoods.

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are closely related to spiders, feed on blood, and come in contact with animals and people through tall grasses and small bushes. Ticks are very small in size when unfed, therefore often goes unnoticed by people. Tick bites are painless, but some are infectious and may result in lyme disease. It’s possible for Canadians to encounter ticks and lyme disease almost anywhere in Canada since ticks feed on migratory birds that transports it to other areas.

tick

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early symptoms occur on average one to two weeks after a tick bite, but can occur as early as 3 days or as late as 1 month after the incident.

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches
  • Skin rash that looks like a bullseye called erythema migrans
  • Facial or Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face)
  • Neurological and sleep disturbances

bulls_eye

A typical bullseye rash. 

Around 60% of patients who were untreated would develop lyme related arthritis with severe joint pain and and swelling in the large joints such as knees.

Consult a doctor right away if bitten by a tick or if you exhibit any of the above symptoms.

Treatment

The most common treatments for lyme disease is oral antibiotics such as: doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.

If the tick is attached to a person, it should be removed straight away using fine tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, and pull it out, gently but firmly. Thoroughly cleanse affected area with rubbing alcohol. You can bring the tick to your doctor or local healthcare providers to identify whether the tick is infected with lyme disease. Medical attention should be sought if any symptoms of early Lyme disease develop within 30 days of removal of the tick.

tick_removal

How to Avoid Ticks

  • Wear light-coloured clothes, long pants and a long sleeved shirt.
  • Wear closed footwear and socks.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Use a tick repellent that has “DEET” (following the manufacturer’s directions for use).  Apply it to your skin and outer clothing.  Avoid your eyes and mouth, as well as cuts and scrapes.
  • Put a tick and flea collar on your pet and check them for ticks periodically.

Outdoor activities are enjoyable no matter if you’re with your family or friends. However, outdoor safety should not be ignore. Taking necessary precautions (e.g., downloading the iamsick.ca app when you travel) and knowing what healthcare options are available in the time of need will let you enjoy the Canada’s beautiful wilderness with peace of mind.

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#HCSMCA Crowdfunding in Healthcare

Crowdfunding healthcare innovation

On June 11, iamsick.ca co-founder Ryan Doherty (@ryansdoherty / @iamsick_ca) will host a #hcsmca chat to discuss how crowdfunding can play a role in healthcare innovation.

What is #hcsmca?

  • #hcsmca is a community passionate about healthcare social innovations
  • hcsmca holds weekly tweet chats on Wednesdays at 1PM ET
  • anyone and everyone can join in the chat

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A tweet chat about crowdfunding healthcare innovation? 

  • iamsick.ca aims to create awareness of the value that crowdfunding brings to healthcare innovation, hackathon teams, and healthcare startups

 

iamsick.ca’s crowdfunding campaign ( from our May 7th blog post on crowdfunding )

We normally think of crowdfunding to support a large scope of activities such as disaster relief, startup fundraising, film/music production, prototype development, or app development.  For iamsick.ca, our crowdfunding campaign is an opportunity to raise funds to cover the cost of expanding our free Ontario-wide healthcare wayfinding app to every corner of Canada.  However, it isn’t just about raising funds, we are also giving Canadians a voice.  Everyone who supports our campaign will receive a vote to decide “where next?” We are hoping to bring together Canadians passionate about improving healthcare to create a movement that will lead to more accessible and efficient healthcare for everyone.

iamsick.ca crowdfunding


Crowdfunding = Community Engagement 

  • crowdfunding is more than just a fundraising tool
  • crowdfunding allows healthcare innovators to engage the public (patients, physicians, organizations)
  • through our vote initiative, we give Canadians an opportunity to be involved in iamsick.ca’s growth (a vote to decide which province next)
  • crowdfunding can create an opportunity to give supporters a behind-the-scenes peek at healthcare app development
  • crowdfunding can create conversations and shine a spotlight on opportunities that organizations & policy makers may otherwise not notice

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For the #hcsmca chat on June 11, 2014 at 1pm EST, we will discuss the following topics that explore crowdfunding to innovate healthcare:

T1: What is crowdfunding, and how is it different from traditional fundraising?

T2: Does crowdfunding help advance healthcare IT and innovation?  If so, how?

T3: What role does the social web and / or network engagement play in crowdfunding?

 

 

iamsick.ca, Ontario & Open Data

What is Ontario’s Open Data?

We hear a lot about open data and its potential, but what is it?  Also, does Ontario have an open data strategy?  Why is that important, and how can Canadians benefit from such an initiative?

Recently, the Open Government Engagement Team consulted Ontarians, legislators, journalists, government staff and public servants about how to improve government engagement with the public.  As reported, there was an overwhelming positive response to open up government data so that it is more accessible to the public.  The concept of Open Data has been around for a while, and it is the process of making government collected data freely accessible by the general public.  Some members of the public analyze the data, creating charts, infographics to identify stories & trends.  Others leverage the data to create tools.  Sometimes those tools (ie. iamsick.ca) help improve the delivery of public services.OpenData-1 Ontario’s Open Data Goals

  • Complete: All data is published automatically, unless there are valid privacy, security or legal reasons not to do so.
  • Primary: Data is published with the most detail possible (i.e. not aggregated).
  • Timely: Data is published as quickly as possible after it is collected.
  • Accessible: Data is made available to the widest range of users for as many purposes as possible.
  • Non-discriminatory: Data is available to anyone and does not require registration for access.
  • Non-proprietary: Data is free and is available in formats that no one has exclusive control over.
  • Licence-free: Data is released under a licence that does not restrict its use (i.e. no copyrights or patents).

OpenData-2 Why is Open Data Important?

Open Data has the potential to change the way government works internally by promoting more transparent decision making and efficient use of public resources. The Open Engagement Team has recently consulted with the iamsick.ca team about making healthcare providers information more accessible to Ontarians. By disclosing healthcare provider information to the public, it would help social enterprises such as iamsick.ca create tools that will allow the government to improve and efficiently deliver healthcare services that cater to the needs of a diverse spectrum of Ontario residents. Tools that leverage open data can improve all sectors and levels of government, and Open Data has a huge potential for improving the lives of Ontarians. The best thing about Open Data is the creativity of the concepts, tools and analysis created with the data. Whether it’s a high school, student, journalist, scientist or entrepreneur, people will look at the data from different perspectives that may lead to great ideas or insight.  The way we see it is clear to us: making healthcare provider information public through open data initiatives will help bridge some of the gaps in the current healthcare system: awareness, access and appropriateness of care.

Ryan-presenting-to-OntarioMinistries2 iamsick.ca President & co-Founder, Ryan Doherty, explaining how Open Data could be leveraged to improve healthcare across Canada during an Open Data Day event for Ontario public servants.

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iamsick.ca team meeting Ontario’s Open Engagement Team. 

Crowdfunding & Open Data

One of the main purposes of the open data initiative is to give the public a voice and increase knowledge of the decision making process within the government. The Ontario government aims to open data so the public can leverage the information and accomplish good. And, this is exactly what iamsick.ca does: we leverage government information to improve public service delivery.  Crowdfunding is a useful tool that can augment open data initiatives. It is a way to raise money, allowing free services like iamsick.ca to improve and expand. Our crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo takes it one step further, by giving the public a voice; anyone who pledges $1 or more will get a vote to decide which province we will expand our service to next.  Our campaign also includes perks, like Get Well cards and Canadiana cards from local artists and photographers, which help bring the community together to support our social enterprise.

Open Data & Social Good

Social enterprises like iamsick.ca can use open data to improve public services, build an engaged community of users, and bring public concerns to government awareness.

Be the change you want to see in Canadian healthcare, visit our indiegogo crowdfunding page and see how you can make a difference!

 

Crowdfunding – Engaging the Community for Growth

What is crowdfunding?

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We normally think of crowdfunding to support a large scope of activities such as disaster relief, startup fundraising, film/music production, prototype development, or app development. For iamsick.ca, our crowdfunding campaign is an opportunity to raise funds to cover the cost of expanding our free Ontario-wide healthcare locator app to every corner of Canada. However, it isn’t just about raising funds, we are also giving Canadians a voice. Everyone who supports our campaign will receive a vote to decide “where next?” We are hoping to bring together Canadians passionate about improving healthcare to create a movement that will lead to more accessible and efficient healthcare for everyone.

What is reward crowdfunding?

crowdfunding-1

Iamsick.ca is an organization with a cause. We are passionate about bringing first-class healthcare to all Canadians. But to get your donation, we know we should provide something, let’s say a little more immediate, in return. That’s why we have chosen the reward crowdfunding campaign, because we want to acknowledge the support we receive with creative perks.

Everyone who pledges as little as $1 will get a vote to decide which province we expand to next. With $25, contributors can choose between receiving a set of Get Well cards or Canadiana cards designed by local artists especially for this campaign. Donate $35 and receive a custom iamsick.ca t-shirt. With $60, we will send you a cure-the-cold care package, which include an all-natural soup made especially for our campaign.

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Canadiana

Custom Get Well & Canadiana card samples.

What are stretch goals?

These are goals set by campaign organizers that goal beyond the initial, official goal to raise more money to improve goods or services. In our campaign, the official goal is to raise $9,000 to expand the iamsick.ca app to a second province in July. Our first stretch goal is to raise $20,000 to expand the iamsick.ca service to two other provinces. Our ultimate goal is to raise $90,000 so we can grow Canada-wide by September.

stretch goal

Timeline of our crowdfunding campaign.

How you can help.

You want to help? Great! The easiest way you can help us create a better future for Canadian healthcare is by pledging. Every dollar can and will make a difference!

You can find out more about our campaign and how to support us by clicking this link: http://indiegogo.iamsick.ca

Word of mouth is the best way to get people involved. Aside from pledging, you can also share our campaign with friends, family, coworkers and help spread the word about our campaign. Lastly, it would also help if you download our free app onto your smartphone, visit the website and give feedback. We would love to hear about how we can improve the service to better serve you.

You can make an huge impact with just a click of a button. Let today be the day we revolutionize Canadian healthcare!