Dr. Sean Wachtel is taking on for out-going Dr. Michael Patterson as chief public well being officer of Nunavut. Wachtel mentioned he desires to proceed tackling systemic racism in well being care and is impressed by the exhausting work and efforts of the territory’s well being workers. (Photograph courtesy of First Nations Well being Authority)
Dr. Sean Wachtel says regardless of operational challenges, he’s impressed by exhausting work of well being workers in Nunavut
Now that he’s the chief public well being officer of Nunavut, Dr. Sean Wachtel mentioned he’ll proceed working to handle systemic racism in well being care.
“As a affected person, we’d like to have the ability to strategy our supplier and be heard,” he mentioned in an interview.
To try this, Wachtel desires remedy plans for well being care within the territory to be culturally acceptable.
Whereas initiatives which have began in areas like Nunavut — corresponding to packages for retraining medical workers — are new, they’re the kind he desires to see carried out “to assist suppliers give higher care to Indigenous populations everywhere in the nation and significantly in Nunavut.”
Wachtel changed Dr. Michael Patterson because the territory’s chief public well being officer final month.
After holding clinics in Iqaluit and the Kivalliq in 2019 and developing periodically once more since April this yr, Wachtel mentioned he was drawn to the spirit of the folks in Nunavut, in addition to the bodily great thing about the place.
“So I used to be delighted to be afforded the chance to hitch the staff,” he mentioned.
Earlier than changing Patterson, Wachtel was senior medical director for Aboriginal Well being and medical well being officer for the First Nations Well being Authority in B.C.
He did his education on the College of Liverpool in the UK and was a doctor with the British Royal Air Power from 2004 till 2009, when he immigrated to Canada.
As soon as right here, Wachtel mentioned, he felt drawn to working with Indigenous folks after studying in regards to the nation’s historical past of colonization and its affect on well being care.
“Usually, I believe folks have an innate sense of what’s simply and wish to right [what is unjust],” he mentioned, mentioning the anti-racism motion and the Fact and Reconciliation Fee of Canada.
“I felt a lot drawn to that space of labor.”
As a part of that, Wachtel has specialised in public well being since transferring to Canada.
He mentioned systemic racism in Canada’s supply of well being care is by design. By having a system that was created for and by the individuals who colonized the nation, it doesn’t acknowledge the wants of Indigenous folks.
For Nunavut particularly, which means addressing a number of challenges, together with the supply of well being care to a vastly spread-out inhabitants.
“That’s the meat and potatoes of the issue,” Wachtel mentioned.
One other factor that drew him to Nunavut was the way in which the territory’s health-care staff function regardless of the challenges.
“The dedication and dedication of the workers in Nunavut is second to none, and I discover it very inspiring to work with such hardworking folks,” he mentioned.
Wachtel mentioned within the short-term, his targets are to make use of his public well being experience to offer recommendation to the territorial authorities on health-care selections.
Within the medium or long-term, he’ll go onto federal and territorial tables and advocate to get the sources wanted for Nunavut’s inhabitants.
That sort of work is often finished by reviewing scientific proof, then taking that info and making an argument utilizing the context of suggestions from the reality and reconciliation report, he mentioned.
Whereas there are challenges forward in bettering Nunavut’s well being care, Wachtel mentioned he’s honoured and privileged to take up his new place.
“I hope that individuals discover me approachable and respectful of their factors of view, and that’s my [way of operating] that I’ll carry ahead,” he mentioned.