Indigenous Patient Navigator Services Introduced At South Muskoka Hospital


Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is working to improve care closer to home in the communities we serve by introducing two new providers dedicated to better supporting specific patient populations.

Through a partnership with the Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle (BANAC), MAHC is bringing Indigenous Patient Navigator services to patients at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) Site. In an Indigenous Patient Navigator role, Mary Sue Robinet acts as a supportive liaison for Indigenous patients and their families with the care teams. She helps Indigenous patients connect with services while receiving care in the hospital, access culturally relevant care options, plan for short-term and long-term healthcare needs, and connect with community resources. She is available to also coordinate traditional ceremonies and connections with Elders.

Coming to MAHC from a Personal Support Worker background, Robinet brings eldercare experience working with special needs individuals and complex diagnoses and formal training as a Medical Laboratory Assistant, while also learning traditional ways from Indigenous Elders and Grandmother Circle. She says she has been humbled to be shown great respect and gratitude from those she has walked with through their health care journey and the value they place on having an advocate for their needs.

“This value is intrinsically tied to the value that is placed on them as individuals, with unique and distinct needs of which I strive to make myself aware, understanding and acknowledging that there is no cookie-cutter solution that will suit all individuals and situations,” explains Robinet. “I have had the honour of sitting with families and individuals at times of personal challenge. It is my hope that individuals who may have, at one time, avoided healthcare due to past negative experience, may engage again with healthcare and that we might assist them in seeing that positive things can and do occur within hospitals.”

The Indigenous Patient Navigator will be engaged to connect and offer support if a patient self-identifies as Indigenous during registration. With the patient’s permission, the Indigenous Patient Navigator will follow the patient through triage, admission, inpatient stays and outpatient visits. To date, Robinet has been involved in 10 unique patient engagements, which includes continued outreach care for a number of patients.

President & CEO Cheryl Harrison says culturally appropriate and relevant care is an important part of the recovery process.

“Each person, each interaction is a new opportunity for Mary Sue to engage in their care plan and truly involve them in their care journey,” says Harrison. “This is the real value of the role of Indigenous Patient Navigator – to illicit hope and confidence in their ability to manage and navigate their own wellness and healing. I am proud of this important step forward to improve the care experience for our patients.”

For more information about Indigenous Patient Navigator services, visit our website.


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