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Emergency Department External Assessment

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Niagara Health is listening and learning more about the healthcare experiences of Indigenous Peoples to take meaningful action.

Niagara Health (NH) is beginning an external assessment of the Emergency Department (ED) in an effort to improve patient care and experiences for Indigenous Peoples. Led by an independent panel of five external experts, the group will review Niagara Health’s ED and Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) at the St. Catharines Site with the understanding that findings will be applied across our three EDs and all NH sites.

What are we doing?

Niagara Health’s goal is to learn, offer healing, and mobilize change to improve the quality and safety of care for Indigenous patients. This is part of our commitment to make the hospital a safe, and culturally welcoming space for Indigenous Peoples that meets their healthcare needs and respects their traditions.

The independent ED Assessment follows the tragic death of Heather Winterstein, an Indigenous patient in our care in December 2021. This ED Assessment is done in Heather’s memory.

As part of the assessment, the Panel will be seeking input from Indigenous patients and families, organizations, community services, and healthcare partners to understand experiences and assess opportunities for improvement. Our ED and PERT teams will also have the opportunity to share their perspectives. The Panel will listen and examine all information collected and provide recommendations to Niagara Health to improve the care and experiences of patients, families and communities.

Who will be engaged?

  • Indigenous patients and families
  • Indigenous organizations
  • Clinical Staff
  • Physicians
  • Academic institutions
  • Children services
  • District school boards
  • Healthcare partners

ED Assessment Panel

The independent ED Assessment Panel is composed of five external leaders with a unique blend of expertise in emergency department and clinical operations, governance and management, employee engagement and patient care, and knowledge and practise of Indigenous culture and traditional healing.

The ED Assessment Panel members include:

We are grateful to Jill Shimizu-Wilson, who has guided this work in her role as an Indigenous Advisor at Niagara Health. Jill will continue to support the work of the Panel by leading the engagement with the Indigenous community to understand experiences and identify opportunities for improvement.

Click here to read the ED Assessment Panel biographies.

What happens when the ED Assessment is complete?

The ED Assessment Panel will listen and examine all information collected and provide recommendations to Niagara Health to improve the care and experiences of patients, families and communities. The Assessment will conclude in mid-2023 with a public report of findings and recommendations to help support a high-performing Emergency Department that provides quality care for Indigenous Peoples, extending sensitivity to their cultural needs.

You can also find more information on Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation at Niagara Health here.

Actions we have taken to enhance care and assist with our reconciliation work include:

  • Recruited for two new dedicated Social Workers in the Emergency Department to support the non-medical needs of patients in the Indigenous community and other equity-deserving groups;
  • Creating two new roles for a Manager, Indigenous Health Services and dedicated Indigenous Relations Specialists at Niagara Health;
  • Undertaken San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training, with many staff and leaders including those from the Emergency Department.
  • Hired an Indigenous Advisor to provide advice on engagement strategies that will inform the external assessment of the Emergency Department.
  • Established a committee made of up staff and physicians to support a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for our workforce;
  • Provided cultural humility and unconscious bias training to our Human Resources team, DEI Committee, Executive team and Medical Advisory Committee.
  • Created a dedicated webpage for Indigenous Health Services & Reconciliation.

Tell us your story

The ED Assessment Panel invites you to provide feedback to help us improve your care and experience in our Emergency Department:

Or contact Niagara Health’s Indigenous Advisor (Jill.Shimizu-Wilson@niagarahealth.on.ca)

Your feedback will be collected, stored and seen by:

  • Emergency Department Assessment Panel
  • Niagara Health’s Executive Team Members
  • Indigenous Advisor
  • Project Manager
  • Director, Partnerships and Engagement

We acknowledge that sharing your stories may be triggering and resurface trauma. We encourage you to reach out for support. You can find a list of Indigenous Wellness Resources here.

Concerns or comments regarding Niagara Health services

If you are a patient or family member and have a concern about your current care, please direct your comments to Patient Relations. They can assist you in resolving any dissatisfaction you or your loved one may have with the manner in which you were treated.

Niagara Health