New Nurse Positions Help Island Families Navigate Healthcare Complexities



The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), in partnership with Island Health, has established three Nurse Navigator positions based in First Nations communities on Vancouver Island. The Nurse Navigators will work to remove barriers and improve health outcomes by facilitating coordinated, culturally safe access to support, services and resources for First Nations.  

With triple the capacity for navigation services in the Region, FNHA will be able to expand the service to additional First Nations populations including Elders. These new positions will provide health and social systems navigation services based within the three cultural families of Vancouver Island – the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth Nations.

These positions were established based on the positive outcomes resulting from the Returning Home project to enhance communication regarding discharge planning and the continuum of care for these children and families. Based on the success of the demonstration project and a clear need for health systems navigation, the FNHA is pleased to announce a long term and sustainable solution.

The Returning Home Project Steering Committee and FNHA teams are working collaboratively to transition to the new model in order to ensure continuity of care for patients. Work over the next few weeks will focus on assisting the families in making the transition, as well as providing orientation and training for the new Navigators regarding child health.

FNHA's three new Nurse Navigators (Elise Rodd- Coast Salish, Larisa MacGregor- Kwakwaka'wakw, Joy Phillips- Nuu-chah-nulth) met at BC Children's Hospital last week to learn more about the past program, its history and successes. They share that, "we are looking forward to supporting families as they care for their children with complex care needs in their home communities. We recognize the multiple challenges related to navigating the health care system, and hope to help decrease the frustrations of communications across jurisdictions. The Nurse Navigator positions will allow for service continuity through to adulthood and beyond, which is a positive change to the program."

These positions are not replacing Aboriginal Liaison Nurses in hospitals, but are in addition to these resources and there will be efforts made expand availability into the evening hours.