Bluewater Health enhancing support for Indigenous patients

Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia. (Photo by BWH from Facebook)

Bluewater Health wants to ensure Indigenous people feel safe and supported at Sarnia-Lambton’s hospitals.

An Indigenous Transition Facilitator is to be hired to support the First Nations and Inuit Home and Community Care Program.

Bluewater Health has received approval for ongoing annual funding of $110,000.

Chief Nursing Executive Shannon Landry said the position will be an enhancement of the hospital’s current Indigenous Patient Navigator.

“So that person will really help to transition our Indigenous patient community from the hospital out to the community supports of where they’re needed and sort of help them transition through the health system,” she said. “We know that we still have the work to do and we still want to support and work with them, so it’s something that we want to continue to do and continue to improve on for our Indigenous communities.”

The hospital introduced Nikki George to the navigator role in June 2018. Landry said George does things to help Indigenous patients feel more comfortable, like smudging.

Landry thinks the biggest barrier remains a reluctance to come to the hospital.

“So we had learned that there was a lot of dissatisfaction with our Indigenous community here in the hospital. Since our Indigenous Patient Navigator has come, she has really enhanced that and improved the satisfaction with our Indigenous communities,” she said. “We want to work with them and learn from them so we can ensure that they get the supports and services that they need and they feel that they have a safe space to come to.”

Landry said the hospital continues to work with all vulnerable patient populations.

“For example, we already have anti-racism education in our hospital for everything. One of the courses that we do bring in is our roots of tolerance — they come and talk about our homeless population, our vulnerable populations that are out in our communities. With our Petrolia site, we’re always working on our rural populations.”

Landry said the hospital will be putting the posting up for the Indigenous Transition Facilitator.

A media release from Bluewater Health said Indigenous patients have the opportunity to voluntarily self-identify at registration, allowing the hospital to provide extra support through the Indigenous Patient Navigator as needed.