Indigenous-led Patient Navigation service re-launched

South Zone project helps to identify and remove obstacles to accessing healthcare

LETHBRIDGE – Indigenous Peoples can contact the Four Winds South Zone Project to support navigation and coordination of access to Alberta Health Services (AHS) through the Indigenous Patient Navigators (IPN). This service has returned after being put on hiatus to respond to pandemic health needs.

The role of the IPN is to work with Indigenous patients alongside clinical teams to promote health equity for Indigenous Peoples in southern Alberta. Navigators work alongside the Indigenous Hospital Liaison Services | Alberta Health Services and Traditional Wellness Coordinator Services | Alberta Health Services currently offered by the Indigenous Wellness Core in the South Zone.

Our IPNs support Indigenous patients with:

  • Pre-admission to access health-related programs and support continuity of care.
  • Emergency or hospital admission to assist the healthcare team to provide medical translation of the diagnosis and hospital process.
  • Inpatient stays to provide support, medical translation and education to patients and families with culturally safe supports.
  • Discharge to assist Indigenous patients navigates services and programs between hospital and community.

The IPN service offered through Four Winds is available at: Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, Cardston Health Centre, Pincher Creek Health Centre and Fort Macleod Health Centre.

The service is unique as Indigenous patients, or their family members, can contact the Four Winds team directly. To ensure the support of as many Indigenous patients as possible, clinicians and healthcare providers can also contact the Four Winds team and refer Indigenous patients to the service.

The Four Winds team are members of Kainai, Piikani and Sandy Lake (ON) First Nations.

The Indigenous Patient Navigators are Kara Eagle Bear (Tanataaki) and Jeremy Chief Calf. They join Senior Project Manager Leslie Wells (Maahstoohkoomii), all three are members of the Kainai Nation (Blood Tribe). While Eagle Bear is also a member of the Piikani Nation. Together they bring to their roles extensive combined career experience in healthcare, addiction and mental health services, the justice system, along with child and family social services.

Eagle Bear and Chief Calf Both are excited to help create and strengthen relationships with patients and staff and look forward to making a positive difference for Indigenous Peoples navigating the health system.

"I am grateful to be working alongside a great Indigenous team and helping patients in and out of the hospital,” says Chief Calf. “We have received great appreciation from patients and staff for the program.”

Eagle Bear says she too is grateful to help her people navigate through the healthcare system and feels good knowing she is making a difference in someone’s health and well-being.

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