Leadership Position Dedicated to Enhancing Indigenous Health
by Maryanne Matthews
Indigenous people, particularly those from remote Northern communities, face unique challenges to accessing health care. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has a leadership position dedicated to improving experiences and outcomes for Indigenous patients and families by providing care that is culturally relevant and sensitive, in a welcoming environment, and also enhances partnerships to address challenges.
Crystal Pirie was hired as Senior Director of Indigenous Collaboration in August 2018. In this new role, she is responsible for meaningful engagement with Indigenous partners and communities, and advising the Hospital’s Senior Leadership Council and Board of Directors on strategies to enhance Indigenous health.
“My focus is to ensure our Hospital’s Indigenous Health priorities are authentic to the needs of the region’s Indigenous communities and that the Health Research Institute advances the health research priorities of Indigenous researchers and communities,” said Pirie. “Through collaboration with our internal teams as well as external partners and communities, I’m working to ensure that all of our Hospital’s policies, procedures and processes are more culturally relevant, sensitive, and holistic.”
Pirie oversees all of the goals and objectives that fall under Indigenous Health in the Strategic Plan 2020. One of her priorities this past year has been to gain a better understanding of who the Hospital’s Indigenous patients are in order to better determine their needs. Collaborating with regional partners, communities, and Federal and Provincial authorities is helping to map out the existing gaps in service – from a patient’s initial appointment through to their discharge.
In addition to the existing goals under Indigenous Health, a new strategic objective related to discharge planning was developed due to the success of the Dilico Anishinabek Family Care Discharge Planners. Under Pirie’s leadership, the Hospital will continue to pursue formal partnerships with Indigenous organizations in order to expand and improve discharge planning for Indigenous patients.
“There is certainly no easy solution to the unique challenges faced by Indigenous patients and families with regards to health care, but I’m encouraged by the commitment displayed by our Hospital to make positive changes,” said Pirie. “I’m proud to be the first point of contact for any questions or concerns from our Indigenous leaders and communities of Northwestern Ontario and look forward to building on those relationships. My goal is to see our Hospital become a leader in Indigenous Health.”
To learn more about Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s commitment to Indigenous Health, please visit www.tbrhsc.net/home/indigenous-health-services/.