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FNHA hosts first-ever Health Benefits tour for Health Directors

Partners learned about Health Benefits operations and the employees behind them!​

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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.” 

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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.

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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