Saskatoon Health Region expands Aboriginal health service to RUH
- Fraser Needham | August 04, 2015
The Saskatoon Health Region continues to move ahead with making frontline services more accessible for Aboriginal people.
For the past two years, culturally-relevant care has been offered by the First Nations and Métis Health Service at St. Paul’s Hospital, and in more recent months, a similar level of care has been available at Royal University Hospital.
Since March of this year, the service at RUH has seen 993 in-hospital and walk-in patients and the service at St. Paul’s has seen 2,615 patients over the past few years.
Services provided include translation and interpretation in the traditional Indigenous languages of Cree, Dene and Saulteaux.
Patients are also offered various supports such as access to social workers and pharmacists as well as ensuring Aboriginal elders are on hand to provide spiritual and cultural services.
Saskatoon Health Region CEO Dan Florizone says the city’s three hospitals serve a large area of Aboriginal people including 40 per cent of the province’s northern residents.
“This isn’t just the right thing to do in terms of feeling welcoming and creating that space and place,” he says. “We know that recovery is clearly linked to a more holistic approach. To be able to incorporate tradition, custom, spirituality – all of these linked to the recovery of patients in acute care and their reintegration of what is healthy back into their home community.”
He adds one of the primary roles of the region is to make patients feel as comfortable as possible when they need to access healthcare services.
“In a hospital-type setting, or healthcare setting, it’s scary enough to begin with. But to be surrounded, supported by family or friends or those you really identify with, to be able to clearly understand the language and to understand the complexity of care.”
First Nations and Métis Health Service and Representative Workforce Director Gabe Lafond says this particular healthcare service employs three people at RUH and two at St. Paul’s Hospital.
He says the feedback the region has received from the Aboriginal community is that they want to have more say in how healthcare services are administered and delivered and this model is putting this request directly into practice.
“Our communities are saying that they want to be heard, they want to be able to have a voice in this process and the services have to be patient-friendly centered care. So, our navigators take that holistic approach when providing services to our community.”
Lafond also says he would eventually like to see the service expanded beyond Saskatoon.
“What I’m hearing from our system is that certainly we have a great program within Saskatoon but what about our rural sites? We have quite a bit of a Métis and First Nations population in the rural areas. Rosthern, for example, they’re asking, ‘What about a navigator in Rosthern? What about a navigator in Wadena?’ So, they want us to have some sort of rural focus.”
In a recent study conducted by the Saskatoon Health Region of 100 Aboriginal people who accessed Royal University Hospital’s healthcare services, 96 per cent of First Nations patients were admitted through the emergency department, 55 per cent had three or more health complications and seven per cent experienced a delay in discharge.