On February 28, FNHA hosted a tour of its Health Benefits department in downtown Vancouver for the First Nations Health Directors Association. A part of FNHA’s pre-Quality Forum event for community Health Directors, the tour provided opportunities to learn about Health Benefits services and to meet the FNHA employees who keep those services running.
“When we discuss programs and services at regional caucus, a full two-thirds of the questions
or comments are related to First Nations Health Benefits,” says FNHA COO Richard
Jock. “It is important, then, that our communities have access—that they have
opportunities to look at our processes and meet some of the people who deliver
their services. It’s crucial that they see and hear our staff’s commitment to
providing quality services for First Nations people.”
With this in mind, the tour’s aim was to create better connections between
staff and community members to break down some of the barriers that have
historically prevented First Nations people from accessing services, especially
due to previous bad experiences with the health-care system.
For John Mah, FNHA VP of Health Benefits, the tour is akin to welcoming
people into his home in order to foster stronger relationships. “By inviting
people into the home of First Nations Health Benefits, we can show Health
Directors how the program is run. It also helps us connect with
them and make our programs a little bit more welcoming.If Health Directors
do run into issues in their communities, our hope is that they’ll feel more
comfortable with approaching us and engaging our services.”
The tour was opened over coffee and refreshments with a prayer from FNHA
Board Member Helen Joe and opening words from COO Richard Jock and VP John Mah.
Each participant was then split into one of eight groups, who moved together
between separate information stations:
• Medical Transportation; • Dental and Eligibility; • Mental Health,
Vision, Medical Supplies and Equipment; • Oral Health; • Benefits
Management and Claims Payment System Transition Project; • VP Office and
Pharmacy; • Program Analysis & Claims Adjudication and Data Analytics
& Reporting; and• Coffee Station with VP, Health Benefits and COO.
• Medical Transportation;
• Dental and Eligibility;
• Mental Health,
Vision, Medical Supplies and Equipment;
• Oral Health;
Management and Claims Payment System Transition Project;
• VP Office and
• Program Analysis & Claims Adjudication and Data Analytics
& Reporting; and
• Coffee Station with VP, Health Benefits and COO.
At each station, Health Benefits employees presented on their scope of
practice, current priorities and, in some cases, future expansion of their
programming. Although there was no official Q+A period, the presentations were
peppered with conversation, often about the challenges and realities faced on
both ends—at FNHA and in community. The final station was a coffee break room,
where participants could discuss Health Benefits with Richard Jock and John Mah,
providing valuable space for direct communication with FNHA leadership.
Following the tour, many Health Directors noted that it had helped them
develop a more holistic view of the Health Benefits programs. As Genevieve
Martin, Nak’azdli’s Health Director and FNHDA Board Member noted, her major
takeaway from the tour was “seeing how the whole program runs and how [the
programs] all marry into each other. There’s a lot of amazing team work that
happens here and now I understand the process more.”
Though the tour was fast paced, it opened the door to better understanding
and stronger partnerships between FNHA Health Benefits and community Health
Directors. “It’s good for our people to learn whatever’s available here,” said
Peter John, Health Director for Chawathil and FNHDA Board member. “A lot of the
time they think they’re getting the service from the NIHB or Indian Affairs. So
they don’t know that it’s actually a new [provider] and it’s important that they
learn that it’s coming from here and not from somewhere else.”
Following the success of the tour, FNHA will be exploring options for other
events and mechanisms for sharing Health Benefits work in future. Within the
greater context of the Quality Forum, building better visibility into First
Nations Heath Benefits services is a crucial part of FNHA’s quality agenda. To
learn more about FNHA Health Benefits services, you can visit FNHA’s web page here.
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