Thunder Bay – Aboriginal Health Engagement – Net Newsledger

THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – To advance Aboriginal Health in 2012-2013, the number one priority was connecting with Aboriginal partners and representatives. Carmen Blais, who filled the new position of Aboriginal Engagement Lead and Patient Advocate in September 2012, expanded the Aboriginal Advisory Committee from fewer than 10 members to 23. “Improving Aboriginal Health is a complex task that has to start with engagement,” Blais said. “It’s important to get as many people to the table as possible so we understand where we need to improve, and how best to bring about that change.”

Early in the process, members were asked to volunteer to advance the goals outlined in the Strategic Plan 2015. Committee member and elder Abe Kakepetum chose to be involved with helping establish an environment that is more welcoming to Aboriginal patients and families. He said that language is one obvious barrier for patients who do not speak English. It’s important to find interpreters who understand medical conditions so that they can explain it to the patient properly.

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