Island Health says they will be implementing a new voluntary Indigenous self-identity program (ISI) at all health facilities to tailor patient health needs according to their culture.
According to Island Health board chair Leah Hollins the ISI program is expected to be rolled out over the next few months, and patients will be asked if they identify as First Nations, Metis, or Inuit.
She says this will enable Island Health and Indigenous partners and communities the opportunity to close gaps in health and social disparities for Indigenous people.
“The information provided will help our staff connect Indigenous patients with Indigenous-specific services available in their community,” Hollins says. “Patients can identify if they have Indigenous ancestry and is completely voluntary to do so.
“The information provided will be used for the sole purpose of providing the best care.”
According to a media release, once someone uses the ISI program the information is stored and shared throughout healthcare facilities, ensuring the patient’s rights, and culture, is respected.
Vice president of Indigenous Health and Diversity Dawn Thomas says putting the self-identity program in place is one way Island Health is working towards equality and reconciliation.
“We know Indigenous people face inequities in health care access and experience a higher rate of chronic disease and injury,” Thomas says. “The ISI will help us in closing the gap and addressing accessibility through improved patient care.”
The ISI program launched yesterday at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, with a regional rollout expected to happen in the spring of 2024.