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Cancer Care Ontario Appoints Aboriginal Patient Navigators and Regional Cancer Leads in Four Regions

Important step in improving cancer care for province’s Aboriginal populations
Posted on 2012/12/04

Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) today announced an important step in improving cancer care among Ontario’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) communities with the appointment of Aboriginal Patient Navigators and Regional Aboriginal Cancer Leads in four key regions of the province that are home to significant FNIM populations.

The Navigators and Leads are dedicated healthcare workers offering individualized assistance to help residents overcome healthcare system barriers and facilitate timely access to care for FNIM patients and families in the Champlain, North West, North East and Erie St. Clair regions.

“Aboriginal Patient Navigators and Regional Cancer Leads were identified in CCO’s three-year Aboriginal Cancer Strategy II as vital components in delivering on our priorities of improving support and access within the cancer system for FNIM people and enhancing their knowledge, awareness, and experience throughout their cancer journey,” said Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice President, Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario.

The appointments are part of a focused CCO effort to help FNIM peoples overcome their higher cancer incidence and mortality rates and better navigate the complexities of the cancer system by building more cultural competency into the system and bridging the divide between healthcare providers and their Aboriginal patients.

“The health outcomes of Aboriginal people are disproportionately lower than those of non-Aboriginal Ontarians,” said Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario. “The Aboriginal Patient Navigators and Regional Cancer Leads will help FNIM peoples better understand cancer and the need to follow their treatment plans, provide improved support to help them more effectively cope emotionally, psychologically and physically with their cancer and potentially improve treatment results.”

“Aboriginal Cancer Navigators and Leads will help strengthen our efforts to increase access, equity and quality within the cancer system,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “These new positions will provide Aboriginal cancer patients and their families with the knowledge and supports they need to make decisions about their course of care.”

Both the Aboriginal Patient Navigators and the Regional Aboriginal Cancer Leads will be based in the Regional Cancer Programs and will work with existing Aboriginal health networks in these areas to engage their FNIM patients and actively implement the Aboriginal Cancer Strategy II.

The Aboriginal Patient Navigators will facilitate and coordinate access to cancer services, ensuring care is culturally appropriate, work to address the cultural and spiritual needs of patients and their families and network with FNIM and non-Aboriginal partners.

The Regional Aboriginal Cancer Leads will focus on successful engagement and collaboration across varying primary care settings and advocate for and address the primary care needs of FNIM people in their regions.

The second Aboriginal Cancer Strategy is a renewal of CCO’s commitment to prevent cancer by promoting healthy living, to catch it early through screening and detection services and to make sure those who do get cancer live longer and healthier lives, receiving better care every step of the way.

Cancer Care Ontario – an Ontario government agency – drives quality and continuous improvement in disease prevention and screening, the delivery of care and the patient experience, for cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care for key health services. Known for its innovation and results-driven approaches, Cancer Care Ontario leads multi-year system planning, contracts for services with hospitals and providers, develops and deploys information systems, establishes guidelines and standards and tracks performance targets to ensure system-wide improvements in cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care.

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Media contact: Marko Perovic
Cancer Care Ontario
Email: [email protected] 
Phone: 1-855-460-2646