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AHS re-launches Indigenous-led patient navigation service 

Indigenous people can contact the Four Winds South Zone Project to support navigation and co-ordination of access to Alberta Health Services.

The Indigenous patient navigators service has returned after being put on hiatus to respond to pandemic health needs.

The role of the IPN is to work with Indigenous patients alongside clinical teams to promote health equity for Indigenous people in southern Alberta.

Navigators work alongside the Indigenous hospital liaison services and traditional wellness co-ordinator services offered by the Indigenous Wellness Core in the south zone.   

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. 

The IPN service offered through Four Winds is available at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge, Cardston Health Centre, Pincher Creek Health Centre and Fort Macleod Health Centre.   

The Four Winds team are members of Kainai, Piikani and Sandy Lake First Nations. 

kara eaglebear
Kara Eagle Bear

The Indigenous patient navigators are Kara Eagle Bear (Tanataaki) and Jeremy Chief Calf.

Eagle Bear is from both the Kainai (Blood Tribe) and Piikani Nations, and Chief Calf is a member of the Kainai Nation.

Together they bring to their roles extensive combined career experience in healthcare, addiction and mental health services, the justice system, along with child and family social services.  

Both are excited to help create and strengthen relationships with patients and staff and look forward to making a positive difference for Indigenous people navigating the health system.  

“I am grateful to be working alongside a great Indigenous team and helping patients in and out of the hospital,” Chief Calf said. “We have received great appreciation from patients and staff for the program.” 

Eagle Bear said she too is grateful to help her people navigate through the health care system and feels good knowing she is making a difference in someone’s health and well-being.  

“Kara and Jeremy will be able to assist Indigenous Peoples to navigate the array of programs and services we offer,” said Kienan Williams, member of Sandy Lake First Nation and program lead, Innovation and Research, Indigenous Wellness Core. “Our goal is for this work to help Indigenous People experience positive and meaningful encounters with the health care system.”  

The Four Winds Project is supported by $1.4-million in grant funding from the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Health System, a partnership between AHS and Alberta Innovates. Grant funding for Four Winds has been secured until June 2024. 

The Indigenous Patient Navigation Service was designed in direct response to previous South Zone community engagement sessions held in 2019 where AHS heard about difficulties Indigenous patients and families can experience within the health care system when they are unaware of and overwhelmed by the range of services and supports offered.

“We are excited to support this important navigation project to help Indigenous patients and families,” said Colin Zieber, AHS senior operating officer. “The project is helping inform the wider health system on the challenges and barriers Indigenous patients face when seeking or receiving care. Identifying these barriers is the first step toward removing obstacles to care.”

To reach out for IPN services, please contact Kara Eagle Bear at 403-634-0939  or Jeremy Chief Calf at 403-634-0930.