Update on the Indigenous Patient Navigator Project

Since the Indigenous Patient Navigator (IPN) project launched last year, many patients and families have benefitted from the service. To coincide with National Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month in June, we’re happy to raise awareness about this valuable service in the South Zone and offer a reminder about how to access it.

The 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 the different transitions during their journey in and out of care. These roles were created to break down barriers Indigenous patients experience in accessing health care – barriers that lead to health inequities and poor health outcomes compared with other segments of the population.

Feedback has been positive and heartening, reaffirming that the Indigenous Wellness Core is on the right track. We’d like to share an excerpt from one letter, received recently from a patient’s family member.

Kara Eagle Bear has been our family's saving grace… My siblings and I have three loved ones in our immediate family that struggle with addictions… Her kindness, her patience, and understanding are remarkable. She opens her heart to people that are addicted. When you are in this field of work you have to have true and honest compassion… You have to care for people just as you care for your own family. Kara was all of this and so much more… She made the process run smoothly and easy, she got right to work finding all different options to help us as a family… I am happy to say we have one sober/clean family member from addictions and we are working on the other two. I hope to see many more people like Kara in this field. It would help substantially with the fight against this opioid crisis.”

In this, a patient shares their appreciation for the support they’ve received from Chief Calf.

"I really appreciated the support the Indigenous Patient Navigator provided to me. He was very helpful in making me aware of options and made sure I was able to go to a safe place. I felt listened to and supported. I am happy that the Indigenous Patient Navigator Program exists."

Since the IPN project began, more than 300 patients and their family members have received smoother access to services. Navigators serve in-patients and out-patients across the South Zone at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, Cardston Health Centre, Pincher Creek Health Centre, Fort Macleod Health Centre, as well as on the Blood Tribe and Piikani Nation First Nations.

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 navigate services and programs between hospital and community

To connect directly with the Four Winds team, Indigenous patients or their family members are encouraged to visit together4health.ahs.ca/four-winds or ask a healthcare worker for assistance.


Richard Oster – Scientific Director/Principal Investigator
Kienan Williams – Innovation & Research Team Lead
Leslie Wells – Senior Project Manager
Kara Eagle Bear – Indigenous Patient Navigator
Jeremy Chief Calf – Indigenous Patient Navigator

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