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4 min read
Friday, June 21, 2024
at 10:21 AM ADT
Posted by
Jaimee Dobson

Bridging cultural gaps in healthcare with new Mi’kmaw Indigenous Patient Navigator Jennifer Crossman

Jennifer Crossman joins Nova Scotia Health as the new Mi’kmaw Indigenous Patient Navigator (MIPN) for the Northern Zone.

Jennifer Crossman joins Nova Scotia Health as the new Mi’kmaw Indigenous Patient Navigator (MIPN) for the Northern Zone. Jennifer, a Mi’kmaw member of Paqtnkek First Nation, brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her role.

In her role, Jennifer acts as a bridge between Indigenous patients and Nova Scotia Health services, ensuring that cultural and spiritual needs are met alongside clinical care. "We are excited to learn and collaborate with Jennifer. She provides essential support and guidance, as we work to enhance the care experience for our Indigenous patients and families," said Tanya LeBlanc-Earle, Health Service Manager at Colchester East Hants Health Centre (CEHHC). "She will be a huge support for not only families but for our staff as we strive to respect traditions while delivering culturally safe healthcare."

Starting at CEHHC, Jennifer will initially focus on the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Palliative Care and Women’s and Children’s Health Unit. Her background as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and her ties to the Indigenous community help her address the barriers Indigenous patients often face. "I had the honor of working as an LPN in a First Nation community, where I gained a deeper understanding of my culture, learned traditions, and formed lasting bonds with staff and community members," said Jennifer, emphasizing the importance of respecting and integrating traditional healing practices into patient care plans.

Jennifer’s impact is evident as she serves as a vital resource for Nova Scotia Health staff, helping them deliver timely and culturally safe care. Recently, a family in an inpatient area requested to speak with someone about their relative's care. Amber MacDonald, Health Service Manager at CEHHC, reached out to Jennifer. She met with the family, addressed their concerns, and helped bridge the gap between clinical care and cultural understanding. “Jennifer’s involvement made a noticeable difference in their experience,” MacDonald added, “This situation showed how her nursing experience and cultural knowledge came together to address patient concerns and improve clinical understanding.”

Jennifer’s passion for her culture and profession shines through in her work. Currently pursuing her Registered Nurse (RN) designation at St. FX University, she embodies a commitment to lifelong learning. Her journey is a testament to the power of two-eyed seeing, blending Western and Indigenous perspectives for holistic healthcare. 

Northern Zone leadership and staff had the opportunity to meet Jennifer at the recent Northern Zone Cultural Inclusiveness Gathering, led by Elder Debbie Eisan and Trena Empringham from the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre. This workshop focused on enhancing cultural awareness and sensitivity to better serve Indigenous patients, complementing Jennifer’s efforts to foster culturally safe healthcare spaces. An Indigenous Blanket Exercise was offered as part of the gathering, engaging people’s minds and hearts in understanding why the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is often broken and how we can take action together.

Jennifer’s role is pivotal in bridging cultural gaps within healthcare, ensuring Indigenous patients receive care that honors their cultural and spiritual needs. She is eager to collaborate with First Nations communities and healthcare settings to uphold the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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