The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is honoured to jointly accept a British Columbia (BC) Quality Award with the Rural Coordination Centre of British Columbia (RCCbc) in the category of “Strengthening Health & Wellness” in BC.
Nominated under “Real-Time Virtual Support Network & First Nations Virtual Care Initiatives,” the award from the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council recognizes the progress made toward overcoming some of the geographical barriers faced by First Nations people living in rural and remote communities.
“The FNHA is honoured to be recognized as an innovator in virtual care for First Nations clients in BC,” said Sonia Isaac-Mann, FNHA Vice President of Community Health and Wellness, Programs and Services. “We have long recognized a gap in services for rural and remote First Nations communities and the challenges that go with that. Bringing virtual care directly to patients and providers serving communities is one step toward closing that gap.”
The geography and travel costs, along with a lack of cultural safety, has historically created a barrier to health care for many First Nations people living in rural and remote areas in BC. The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing toxic drug supply has added further challenges in more recent times.
The Real-Time Virtual Support Network was launched in April 2020, with the collaborative work of the FNHA, the RCCbc, Provincial Health Services Authority, Northern Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Doctors of BC, the BC Emergency Medicine Network, UBC Digital Emergency Medicine and the Ministry of Health.
Since that time, several patient and provider-facing support networks have been developed to support health care in rural and remote communities. Provider support networks include the Rural Urgent Doctor in-aid, Child Health Advice in Real-Time Electronically, Maternity and Babies Advice Line, and Quick Reply.
For patient services, the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day and First Nations Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Service (both led by the FNHA) have proven to be in high demand. Both services provide First Nations people and their family members—even if they are not First Nations—access to culturally safe virtual care from specialists in addictions medicine, psychiatry, physicians, mental health and wellness care coordinators, Knowledge Keepers and Elders. An estimated 20,000+ appointments have been made through these two services since launch in 2020.
For more information about the 2023 BC Quality Awards, including winners and runners-up in other categories, visit the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council website.