By Jensen, Randy on October 15, 2020.
In an effort to improve Indigenous patient outcomes and help bridge some of the trust gaps which exist between local Indigenous peoples and the health-care system, the Alberta Health Services South Zone launched its Indigenous Patient Navigator program on Wednesday.
“It has been a long time coming, having worked with Indigenous communities for a few years,” says Katherine Chubbs, Chief Zone Officer for the AHS South Zone. “We did really in-depth work with them over the last three years to understand what their biggest barriers are to accessing health care, and what they see as some of the solutions. This really is a co-designed initiative.”
The Navigator program is funded by a $1.4-million research grant from Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Health System (PRIHS), and is launched in partnership between Alberta Health Services and Alberta Innovates. The Navigator program will serve as a test case for health-care providers across the country to see how such a co-designed program may work in other sites to better serve the needs and address the concerns of Indigenous patients.
“Putting this navigator in place today is a big moment for us,” says Chubbs. “We are really excited to get this service off the ground. This is actually a research-funded initiative. The intention of the funder is we take this information and apply it across Alberta and beyond.”
The Navigator program comes as a result of three years of collaboration, planning and discussion between Alberta Health Services and local Indigenous communities under the “Four Winds” initiative.
The first Indigenous Patient Navigator employed under this initiative is Blood Tribe member Chloe Crosschild, who is also a practising nurse. She will work with patients who self-identify as Indigenous to ensure they understand all the information provided, address any concerns they might have, and just be there for them while they go through the health-care system to receive the treatment they need.
“I think this is a very exciting project,” says Crosschild. “I heard about the role, and I saw an opportunity for Indigenous peoples in southern Alberta to have that opportunity to receive comfortable care in a culture that would be safe for them, and I wanted to be part of it.
“My hope,” she adds, “is this project will show the benefit of expansion of Indigenous peoples’ health, and my hope is in the future it will create more opportunities, maybe some we are not familiar with or known right now. But the navigator is that first step to engage with Indigenous peoples and patients, and communicate with health-care providers, to look at where those gaps are to see how we can help to strengthen care, and enhance care.”
– With files from Ian Martens
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter