THUNDER BAY —Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre now offers its patients the opportunity to voluntarily self-identify as Indigenous.
As of March 16, the hospital asks patients at registration if they wish to identify themselves as First Nations, Metis or Inuit
If they answer "yes" or "no" the response is saved in the person's electronic medical record, thereby negating the need to ask the question during future visits.
Individuals who choose not to respond initially will get the chance to do so upon their next visit.
TBRHSC said it implemented the initiative in order to better understand its patients and to improve how they are served.
"We know Indigenous people face inequities in health care access and experience a higher rate of chronic disease and injury when compared to non-Indigenous people," said hospital president and CEO Rhonda Crocker-Ellacott.
She added "This is a great step forward for our hospital as we continue to respond to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action related to health care."
In a statement Wednesday, the hospital said it aims to enrich the patient experience, identify areas of need, and provide data to measure the effectiveness of care for Indigenous patients.
Existing measures include access to interpretation services (Ojibway, Oji-cree and Cree), access to an Indigenous patient navigator and Indigenous care coordinator, and discharge planning for transition to the patient's home community.
Crystal Pirie, director of Indigenous collaboration at TBRHSC, said information collected through self-identification will be used "for the sole purpose" of providing the best possible care.
Besides self-identifying when registering in person at the hospital, patients can provide the information online at anytime at https://isi.tbrhsc.net/
Proof of status is not required.