Niagara Health: An update on our path to reconciliation

Press Release

Mar 29th, 2023

Niagara Health (NH) continues on its journey towards improving the quality and safety of care for Indigenous patients.

An important step has been the creation, development and implementation of the Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation Team, which includes three staff members and is currently hiring for three additional positions.

The team’s work has already begun, including addressing systemic barriers and bias that can lead to negative Indigenous patient experiences and engaging with the community about how best to support and care for Indigenous Peoples.

They are also working with Indigenous patients to improve their care by offering personalized support and navigation through the system; patient relations and complaints work; data collection and discharge planning.

Education, both of patients and staff and physicians with the goal of making NH more inclusive, equitable and compassionate, is another key part of the work the team is doing.

The team takes a holistic approach to health, looking at all components of wellness including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual as reflected in medicine wheel teachings. Spiritual care offered includes smudging, traditional medicines and Elder services.

The implementation of this team is an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to make NH a more culturally sensitive and inclusive organization.

The independent Emergency Department (ED) Assessment Panel is continuing its work and will be turning its attention to coming up with meaningful recommendations to help guide Niagara Health towards reconciliation.

Since December 2022, the Panel has been engaging the Indigenous community to listen and learn about their healthcare experiences. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Indigenous community for bravely stepping forward to share their experiences at our Emergency Departments. We acknowledge that sharing these stories isn’t easy and took immense trust and courage. We are grateful to Jill Shimizu-Wilson, who has helped guide this work in her role as an Indigenous Advisor at Niagara Health. Jill’s work will be complete March 31, as her focus was supporting the Panel by leading the engagement with the Indigenous community.

Our Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation Team is permanent and has already started community engagement. We will continue to listen and learn from Indigenous patient experiences. The team can be reached by email at IndigenousHealthServices@niagarahealth.on.ca

We also want to thank the ED staff and physicians who took the time to participate in the Panel’s work with the goal of helping make sure we have high-performing EDs that provide quality care for Indigenous Peoples, extending sensitivity to their cultural needs.

In terms of what’s next, we are expecting to receive the ED Assessment Panel’s recommendations this summer. Niagara Health has committed to making those recommendations public and applying the findings across all three EDs and all NH sites.

Thank you for your continued support as we work to improve care for Indigenous patients and please let me know if you have any questions.

IHT5

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