Dr. AnneMarie Pegg says she wants to create a North where Indigenous peoples feel safe accessing care.
After completing her first week as the new Territorial Director of Medicine for the NWT she says, she understands why Indigenous communities struggle with accessing health care.
Dr. Pegg will now be responsible for leading physicians across the territory in finding “appropriate health care” methods for residents, she says her mission is to align a physician’s workforce “with a more territorial vision, rather than a regional centric vision.”
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” she says, with over 20 years of northern experience, she is looking into finding alternative ways to deliver care, safely.
Returning to the North after years abroad, Dr. Pegg says the NWT is her adopted Canadian home.
The director of medicine is the most senior physician administrative leader in the territory’s health system.
‘Care can be delivered’
Whether it’s through telephone or online, she says, the pandemic has taught us that care can be delivered and allow people to stay in their homes.
She’s looking at reviving the traditional health care model to provide more convenient options to residents, especially in communities where travel isn’t always do-able.
Remoteness, transportation and extreme weather conditions are only some of the challenges residents face when seeking care.
Accessing “healthcare has not always been considered the safest” method for a lot of people who live in the territory, she says, but “we’re working on eliminating those challenges.”
Overall, health care in Indigenous communities has been poorly handled, Dr. Pegg adds.
She says finding different ways to deliver care is the “only way that we can start to heal a lot of those long-standing rifts between the health care system and Indigenous peoples.”
Dr. Pegg will also be working closely with the COVID secretariat and help contribute to the pandemic response.
She acknowledges her experience working as a community nurse in Fort Simpson and as a physician in Yellowknife has given her some added perspective in assisting communities.
Dr. Pegg has signed a one-year contract, as opposed to the regular three-year term expected as the Territorial Director of Medicine.
She supersedes Dr. Sarah Cook for this position.