New Indigenous support line in the AHS North Zone

Indigenous people in Alberta Health Services North Zone now have access to a dedicated support line to help them navigate the health system.

The new toll-free Indigenous support line became available on June 20 and can be reached at 1-844-944-4744.

Nadine McRee, a Director with the AHS Indigenous Wellness Core says that for now, the line will be available on weekdays from noon to 8:00 p.m.

“It’s the first of its kind. The North Zone is the pilot project,” McRee said.

Requests for the support line came from the AHS Wisdom Council after hearing from citizens about a gap in the system.

McRee stated that fully Indigenous health professionals will be staffing the line. “They are from the north. They understand the needs of the north. They are the stars of the line.”

She went on to explain their goal is to make people feel safe and to help provide an Indigenous lens for those that need it.

“If callers need it, we provide language translation services,” McRee explained. “We’re also in the process of incorporating indigenous music when there is a caller on hold.”

The new Indigenous support line will allow staff to stay on the phone with the caller if they are needed to be transferred to other services.

“We can actually walk along with them if they’d like. We are trying to reduce the re-traumatization or any further potential harm because we’ve heard that Indigenous people don’t like having to tell their stories over and over again,” McRee noted.

Callers do not have to provide a healthcare number, medical history or even a name through the support line.

“If a person wants to call and remain anonymous, they can. This is a very different approach to most call lines for support,” said McRee.

All Albertans are asked to call 911 if they have a medical emergency.

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