The First Nations Health Authority launches new services to improve access to culturally safe and trauma-informed primary care

The dual public health emergencies of the pandemic and BC’s overdose crisis have deeply affected First Nations communities. In response, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has launched two new services: the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day and First Nations Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Service. These services are available to all First Nations people and their family members living in BC, even if those family members do not have status cards.
 

Launched at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, the Virtual Doctor of the Day is a primary care service for First Nations people who do not have a physician or who have lost access due to COVID-19. Individuals can call directly to book an appointment by video or phone. One-third of doctors in the program are of Indigenous ancestry.

Early feedback following the launch of the Doctor of the Day service highlighted the barriers that First Nations people face in accessing culturally safe and trauma-informed psychiatry and addictions assessment, care planning, and treatment. Last month, the FNHA launched the Substance Use and Psychiatry Service as an additional tool to support community-based care providers and to further enhance wraparound mental health and substance use care closer to home.

The Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Service is staffed by medical specialists and requires a referral from a community health and wellness provider, who attends the appointment by video or phone alongside the person in need of support. The Virtual Doctor of the Day can be a referral pathway into the Substance Use and Psychiatry Service for individuals who do not have a referring provider.

“Our services are founded on the basis that every client encounter must be aligned with the principles and practices of cultural safety and humility,” says Megan Hunt, the FNHA’s Executive Director, Primary Health Care and e-Health. “We have staff and physicians with Indigenous ancestry in both programs. We also continue to engage community-based providers to ensure that collaborative care planning and wraparound care are integral to all client encounters with our addictions medicine and psychiatry service.”

Help get the word out

First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day and First Nations Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Service are Real Time Virtual Support (RTVS) pathways developed and delivered by First Nations Health Authority in partnership with the Virtual Health and Wellness Collaborative