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Improving Access to Cancer Care for First Nations Communities

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Improving Access to Cancer Care for First Nations Communities

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Published: 11/19/2013 6:07 PM by  PRHC

Peterborough, ON – A social worker with a passion for supporting the Aboriginal path to health and healing has joined the Central East Regional Cancer Program at Peterborough Regional Health Centre. Kathy MacLeod-Beaver is the cancer program’s new Aboriginal Navigator, and she has extensive experience in health promotion and counselling for First Nations Inuit Metis (FNIM) peoples from her work with the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre in Peterborough and Alderville First Nation Health and Social Services.

Over the next several months, she’ll be working with FNIM communities to improve system access to cancer care for FNIM peoples across the region.

“With more than 4,100 First Nation people living in Peterborough and Peterborough County we welcome the addition of a system aboriginal navigator to the regional cancer program,” said Ken Tremblay, President and CEO of Peterborough Regional Health Centre. “Kathy’s in-depth knowledge, insights and trust with the local culture will help foster relationships with our area residents so they feel more comfortable accessing the right care, close to home.”

“Kathy is an outstanding addition to our team at a time when cancer rates for Aboriginal people are on the rise,” says Tom McHugh, Regional Vice-President of the Central East Regional Cancer Program. “Her arrival and our focus on meeting the distinct emotional, physical and spiritual needs of this community will help to lower the risk of cancer, break down barriers to care and ensure better longer lives for people who do get cancer.”

The introduction of Aboriginal Navigators is part of Cancer Care Ontario’s three-year Aboriginal Cancer Strategy which seeks to address higher incidence of cancer among FNIM peoples. Survival rates for major cancers in FNIM communities are also considerably lower when compared to other Ontarians.

Kathy will work directly with FNIM communities to assess and evaluate the services that are currently available to FNIM peoples to identify any gaps. Her role will also include facilitating and coordinating access to palliative and supportive care that addresses cultural and spiritual needs of FNIM peoples.

“I’m excited to work with the cancer teams across the region to help FNIM families feel at ease knowing that we are here to walk with them on their healing journey,” says Kathy.

“Kathy excels when it comes to being respectful, courteous, and caring. There could not have been a better choice to do this kind of work in a hospital setting,” says Curve Lake First Nation Chief Phyllis Williams, who has known her for many years. “She is passionate and understands the needs of those who are faced with serious illness, and times when it is difficult to know who and where to turn for help. Curve Lake First Nation is ecstatic to have Kathy in this role. She will not only educate families and hospital personnel for cultural aspects, she will also build trust and respect because of her values, teachings, and devotion of work for our people.”

“I would like to congratulate Kathy on her new role in supporting our Aboriginal residents through their journey in the cancer care system. At the LHIN we are very proud of the relationships that have developed through our First Nations Health Advisory Circle and the Métis, Inuit, Non-Status People’s Advisory Committee and we look forward to continuing to support First Nation residents to spend more time in their homes and their communities,” added Wayne Gladstone, Chair of the Central East LHIN Board of Directors.

Quick facts:

• Since 1991, incident rates for colorectal, lung, breast and prostate cancers have been increasing in Status First Nations.

• First Nations in Ontario have poorer survival for cancers of the breast, colorectal, prostate and lung than other Ontarians.

• There are 133 distinct First Nations in Ontario. Approximately 51% live on reserve.


For more information:
Amanda Roffey, Communications Advisor
Tel: 705-743-2121 ext. 3659

Lesley Bovie, Communications Officer 
Lakeridge Health
Tel: 905-576-8711 ext. 4476


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