Northern Health’s Board of Directors meet in Smithers for a public session on April 15. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Northern Health’s Board of Directors meet in Smithers for a public session on April 15. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Indigenous health care a major topic for Northern Health

Health care access and new medical resource written entirely in Gitxsan on Northern Health agenda

From improving health care for Indigenous communities to unveiling a new volume of a medical resource written entirely in Gitxsan, Northern Health had indigineous healthcare on the agenda April 15.

One of the common denominators of a April 15 public board meeting for the healthcare provider was improving not just access, but the overall health care experience of northern B.C.’s Indigenous people.

Central to that theme was the development of a planned ‘Cultural Safety and Humility Training Framework’ which was co-developed by Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).

The proposed 24-hour course will be split into four six-hour sections (cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, reciprocity, and practicing cultural safety and respect) and aims to provide health care professionals with the knowledge, self-awareness, and self-reflection they require to effectively provide care to Indigenous communities in the north. According to the healthcare provider’s VP of Aboriginal Health Margo Greenwood, the training replaces previous programs that didn’t address the specific needs of northern B.C.’s Indigenous population.

“What we heard a lot of times from people who had taken [previous] training … was it really doesn’t get down to the specifics of where the people are working,” she said.

It was out of this query – how Northern Health could make its training more specific to the region – that Greenwood says the new framework was born.

“If I was a new practitioner coming to your community, what do you want me to know about you so I can serve you better?”

In with the new

Another highlight of Greenwood’s presentation was the announcement that a second volume of a Gitxsan phrase book, originally released in 2017, had been completed. She says that on top of improving health care access for Indigenous communities, it is also important to improve the overall health care experience itself, especially for people who don’t speak much English.

“It would be really helpful for [Gitxsan speakers] to feel comfortable and welcomed if our staff, our employees could say some Gitxsan words,” she said, adding initiatives like these are essential in helping Indigenous people feel comfortable seeking out health care.

“You can’t go to a college or university to learn this,” Greenwood said.

The implementation of Mental Wellness Mobile Support Teams (MSTs) throughout various Indigenous communities in the North was also discussed.

Though not fully functional yet, the MSTs will offer a wide range of medical services to communities such as Witset and the Lake Babine Nation in Burns Lake. It’s something Greenwood says is part of Northern Health’s ‘primary care home’ model, which focuses on making sure people receive continued health services in their own community, regardless of where they first seek out medical help.

“The intent is that the clinicians can go out to communities to actually bring services closer to a community, rather than having to go to a more central area,” she said.

Looking forward

A number of planned initiatives were also discussed at the meeting, such as a summer camp program for Indigenous teenagers with a focus on the sciences and a recruitment strategy for hiring more Indigenous people as employees of Northern Health and the FNHA.

Moving forward, a number of Indigenous/Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees (I/AHICs) will have the opportunity to speak at an annual gathering. The meeting will serve as a chance for I/AHICs to “engage in discussions around the cultural safety training and also to engage in discussions that highlight innovative ideas for future resources and delivery methods,” Greenwood explained.



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Smithers Weekly Police Blotter: Feb 12 – 19

Smithers RCMP open 83 new files including 15 property crime cases

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Chris Paulson of Burns Lake took a quick selfie with a lynx over the weekend of Feb. 20-22, 2021, after the wild cat was found eating some of his chickens. (Chris Paulson/Facebook)
VIDEO: Burns Lake man grabs lynx by scruff after chickens attacked

‘Let’s see the damage you did, buddy,’ Chris Paulson says to the wild cat

Junction of Highways 16 and 37 Sunday morning. (Drive BC traffic cam image)
Drive BC reports hazardous road conditions throughout northwest

Advisories include road closure of Hwy 37 for high avalanche risk near Bob Quinn

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read