A new role has been created at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital to ensure culturally safe care is provided to Indigenous people in the health system.
The position, developed from a partnership between WSÁNEĆ First Nations communities and Island Health, was created in response to the provincial government’s review of Indigenous-specific racism in the provincial healthcare system.
The IPN role is intended to help support Indigenous patients and make them feel safe and comfortable when accessing emergency services.
“The process of developing this position, in collaboration between Island Health, Saanich Peninsula Hospital and the W̱SÁNEĆ communities is a demonstration of the relational partnerships that are required to build trust, create safety, and address racism within the healthcare system,” says Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Tom.
According to Chief Tom, the IPN role offers a glimmer of hope that the systems on Vancouver Island will change and healthcare services for Indigenous people will be supported.
The new role is being funded by Island Health and was created following the release of a report called In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care. The report made 24 recommendations aimed at eliminating Indigenous specific racism and creating substantive equity in health care experiences, services and outcomes.
“We celebrate the roles held by Indigenous Patient Navigators in creating a safe, culturally respectful and supportive space for Indigenous patients,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This partnership with Island Health and WSÁNEĆ First Nations communities is an important step in a journey of healing, reconciliation and trust in the health system. I am proud to see this position in place at Saanich Peninsula Emergency Department, who join other health authorities in adding Indigenous Patient Navigators to improve the health-care experience.”
Kathy MacNeil, Island Health President and CEO added that the Indigenous Patient Navigator “will ensure Indigenous patients feel safe accessing Island Health’s programs and services.”
The role will be filled by Lucia Bartleman, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation. She worked for more than two decades as a health manager with the Pauquachin First Nation and was awarded the First Nations Health Directors Association Inspiration Award back in 2016.
“I am a proud mom of seven children and 22 grandchildren. I am pleased to have been selected as the Indigenous Patient Navigator and truly look forward to this wonderful opportunity to work for my community and with Saanich Peninsula Hospital. I look forward to working with everyone. HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM,” said Bartleman in a statement on Tuesday.