Meet our team - Leslie Wells

Leslie Wells wants to help. It’s who she is.

The drive to be there for others is why she chose a career with the Blood Tribe’s Bringing the Spirit Home program offering clients support in their struggles with addiction, and later made the move to AHS as Senior Project Manager for the Four Winds Project within the Indigenous Wellness Core.

“Bringing the Spirit Home was such a rewarding place to work, but it can be really hard on you and it takes a toll,” explained Wells. She was also saddened to hear stories from Indigenous clients of their challenges accessing healthcare – whether at emergency departments or clinics.

“Around that time, I saw this job opportunity,” Wells continued. “I needed a change, and what better way of representing and helping my people than to join an organization like AHS.”

In her role, which she started in April of 2022, Wells has played an important part in growing relations between South Zone leadership and the Blood Tribe and Piikani Nations, between staff and patients, and in building the Indigenous Patient Navigator (IPN) model that launched last year.

The South Zone’s two IPNs, Kara Eagle Bear and Jeremy Chief Calf, are available to help Indigenous patients and their families navigate the complexities of the health system and guide them through their journey in and out of care. The goal is to break down barriers Indigenous patients experience in accessing healthcare – barriers that lead to health inequities and poor health outcomes compared with other segments of the population.

The early success of the navigators is evident as Wells shares feedback she’s received from patients that includes quotes like “I felt safe and supported” and “I felt like my voice was being heard.”

“I don’t want to take credit for this because it’s the navigators that do all the work,” Wells quickly adds, also acknowledging Elders who have provided guidance. “My job is to be their support system and make sure they have what they need to succeed.”

While the progress is heartening, breaking down the systemic issues Indigenous peoples face in healthcare is no easy task and there are still hard days.

“Along with my full-time work and being a full-time mother, I just finished my Master of Social Work,” says Wells. “It’s not a bad stress because I’m bettering my life, but I still need to take time for self-reflection and self-care. I meditate, go for long walks to rejuvenate my soul. We’re a rodeo family and I love to watch my daughter barrel race. It all helps.”

As for the work that lays ahead, Wells sees a clear path forward.

“We need to keep building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, because that’s how we’re going to function as a world. By building meaningful relationships, we’ll all be better and stronger.”

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