Alberta Health Services (AHS), the provincial health authority, has introduced a new support line to assist Indigenous peoples in the Central Zone navigate the health system.
Staffed by Indigenous Health Link staff, the toll-free Indigenous Support Line can be accessed by calling 1-844-944-4744 or by calling Health Link at 811.
The staff can answer any questions callers have as well as assist them in accessing culturally appropriate care and support within Alberta’s health system.
“The Indigenous Support Line is creating a brave space where our people can speak their truth, a place where they can feel supported asking for guidance and help navigating a complex healthcare system,” said Casey Eagle Speaker, co-chair of the AHS Wisdom Council.
Adding the service into the Central Zone is an expansion of an existing support line launched in the North Zone in June 2022 and in the South Zone earlier in 2023.
A media release on Aug. 9 announcing the service expansion notes that since the service was started in 2022, staff have taken more than 2,000 calls.
In surveys following up on those calls, callers informed AHS “they felt respected and supported” by staff helping them; more than 97 per cent of the callers said they would use the line again.
The one-line was created by AHS with assistance from the AHS Wisdom Council and Elder Circle, which “played a key role” providing guidance and advice to the health authority during setup and launch of the support line.
“The support line connects individuals with someone who listens with patience, spirituality, acceptance, caring and empathy,” said Wisdom Council co-chair Cheryl Sheldon.
“Those phone conversations build a deeper understanding of the difficulties Indigenous clients face and it makes a difference, it matters to them, and they feel like they matter to AHS.”
All Albertans are reminded to call 911 in an emergency medical situation so that quick help can be provided; for non-emergency situations, Health Link at 811 is answering phones 24 hours a day to answer health-related questions.
“AHS values Indigenous culture and the unique needs of individuals, patients and families and is incorporating traditional culture into the healthcare system,” notes the release.
For more information, check out the AHS Indigenous Support Line web page at www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/Page18213.aspx.