EPIC Task Group’s work highlighted at peer-to-peer learning session

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The innovative work being done by members of the Engaging Physicians in Indigenous Cultural (EPIC) Safety Task Group was highlighted at a recent Doctors of BC Facility Engagement Initiative peer-to-peer knowledge sharing roundtable. Physicians from across the province gathered virtually to hear about the task group’s work as well as from other medical professionals working towards cultural safety.

EPIC Task Group members Dr. Kendall Ho, Lori Quinn and Anne-Marie Jamin talked about the work the committee has accomplished and their goals for the coming year.

Lori set the stage by talking about gaps in engaging health-care professionals in cultural safety.

“The In Plain Sight report was unsettling for health-care providers,” she said. “We want to help and serve all people. The report catalyzed our work. Our goal is to transform the health-care system.”

“Our group’s purpose is to prioritize and advance Indigenous cultural safety in health-care settings,” added Dr. Ho, “and we have three key strategies this year: continuing to offer iCON-VCH Indigenous Health Rounds (IHRs); provide educational resources; and take part in VCH Indigenous Health patient experience think tanks.”

Anne-Marie gave an overview of the impacts the IHRs have had to date with tremendous attendance growth including the number of physicians taking part. The learning outcomes have also been excellent.

“Ninety-six per cent of participants have learned something that will help them provide or facilitate culturally safe care, while 93 per cent felt more confident in engaging Indigenous patients and families in health-care conversations,” she said. “Furthermore, 98 per cent felt more capable of applying trauma-reduction principles to reduce the risk of re-traumatization among Indigenous patients.”

The next IHR will be October 28, 2022 and features Lori and Elder Xwechtaal Dennis Joseph sharing their knowledge on Indigenous patient experience in health care. VPSA members interested in attending can register here.

The peer-to-peer roundtable also included a presentation by Dr. Tracy Morton who works at Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre. At the beginning of its path towards cultural safety, the hospital raised a totem pole at its entrance. The artistic values embodied in the pole reflect unity, welcoming, healing, and respect for traditional and modern ways of knowing. This was followed by a partnership agreement between the hospital and the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program including an acknowledgement that the hospital’s activities occur on the unceded traditional territory of the Haida peoples. The hospital also agreed to co-naming key areas in the hospital with Haida names and hospital physicians and staff are learning the Haida language.

Dr. Morton credits the funding received from the Facility Engagement Initiative for making these innovations possible.

The session’s final presentation was from Dr. Rachel Caron Williams who works at Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge. The hospital’s cultural safety work began when the MSA welcomed Len Pierre, Fraser Health’s Aboriginal Health Program consultant, as a guest speaker at its 2021 AGM. The meeting was an opportunity to start a conversation around cultural safety and humility and was a safe space for physicians to ask sometimes difficult and uncomfortable questions. Physicians attending the meeting learned appropriate terms and resources to better educate themselves on Indigenous history and territories. They also got an understanding on how to move from cultural avoidance to a healthier understanding of Indigenous culture. This initial meeting led to a smaller event where physicians were able to have an open conversation with Len. He also suggested further reading and a sharing library was begun.

Dr. Williams plans to undertake relationship building with the hospital’s Indigenous community, create patient opportunities to engage in traditional medicines in the psychiatry unit, and create a healing garden outside the physical rehabilitation unit. She has also challenged her MSA colleagues to complete San’yas Indigenous cultural safety online training.

“I felt privileged to take part in these presentations and learned a lot,” said Dr. Ho. “I was inspired by Dr. Morton’s and Dr. Williams’ work and stories. This type of forum is excellent for mutual learning and understanding of different models. It would be great to identify ways we can work together.”

This roundtable was recorded and can be viewed here.

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