WSANEC First Nations communities and Island Health have appointed an Indigenous patient navigator to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, in response to last year’s findings of Indigenous-specific racism throughout B.C.’s healthcare system.
The report, In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Healthcare, revealed a massive gulf between the experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients when receiving care. It also made 24 recommendations for change, including recruiting Indigenous people to senior positions to oversee and promote system change.
At the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, this person will be Lucia (Stqwal) Bartleman, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation with more than two decades of experience as health manager with the Pauquachin First Nation. In 2016, Bartleman was awarded the First Nations Health Directors Association Inspiration Award for her work.
“Lucia Bartleman is a fierce advocate within our communities …,” Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Tom said. “Having the IPN (Indigenous patient navigator) here to support our loves ones, to ensure culturally safe care is provided and advocate on behalf of our people, gives me hope that we can change our systems and support health care services for Indigenous peoples.”
Island Health’s medical director for the Saanich Peninsula and Gulf Island, Dr. Brendan Irvine, called the decision a step forward on an overdue journey.
“For too long our system has underappreciated the extent of intergenerational harms created by our past,” he said.
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