Ininew Patient Services honoured for culturally sensitive support of Mushkegowuk Cree persons

News / General

Unique service earns Program of Distinction Award from Catholic Health Alliance of Canada

Long respected for its compassionate and culturally-sensitive approach to caring for Cree patients and families who travel to Kingston for medical treatment, Ininew Patient Services (IPS) at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has been honoured by the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC) with its 2022 Program of Distinction Award.

Presented at the national CHAC conference on May 13, the award recognizes original and innovative programs that provide exemplary service to persons who are vulnerable and marginalized, supporting their healthcare needs with caring, respect and justice. 

Located at KHSC’s Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site, the IPS program works in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada and the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority

Since 1985 IPS has fully lived the mission envisioned by the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, founders of the HDH site, when they first committed to supporting IPS services:  to provide culturally safe and sensitive support for Mushkegowuk Cree persons—from Moosonee, Moose Factory, Kashechewan, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat and Peawanuck—who must travel 2000 kilometres to Kingston for specialized acute care at KHSC.

“This award is a great honour for our program and a recognition of the Sisters’ legacy of service to vulnerable communities,” says IPS Director Midge Rouse, who in any given week oversees the arrival of up to 175 patients and families on chartered flights from Moosonee.

“It can be a cultural shock to arrive here from isolated communities up north, but from the moment patients and families step off the plane, IPS works hard to support them so they can have the best possible health care experience at KHSC.”

Only hospital-based program of its kind in Canada

IPS is the only hospital-based program of its kind on Canada. It helps Cree-speaking patients and families navigate appointments, transportation and accommodation, and plays a critical role in helping them to understand the care they receive.  Each patient is assigned an IPS medical interpreter to ensure the person is able to participate fully in their medical care. 

“The IPS program plays a very important role in the provincial coordination of referrals and out-of-community health care appointments for Indigenous persons from the Weeneebayko area on behalf of Indigenous Services Canada,” says Dr. David Pichora, KHSC President and CEO.

“This award rightly acknowledges the passion, vision and inspiring leadership that has sustained and grown the program for so many years.  IPS is a testament to the difference you can make in the lives of people who are vulnerable and marginalized when you build trust and partnerships within and beyond our community to achieve better health outcomes.”