PVN 10th Anniversary Feature Story

Since, 2010, Cherie Mercer has been a dedicated patient partner focused on building her leadership skills, while giving back to her community and province through her health care improvement work. Cherie believes that building relationships opens more opportunities to improve health care in BC. In celebration of PVN’s 10th anniversary, read more about Cherie’s journey with PVN.

My name is Cherie Mercer, Noxs Sak’al Gyoo and I am from the Nisga’a Nation. I live in New Aiyansh, a small rural community (1,800 residents) in northern BC. The closest city and hospital is in Terrace (100 km drive).

When I first started with PVN in 2010, I thought only about the health care system close to where I live and how it needed to drastically improve. After the orientation session in Vancouver and participating in several events, I realized the network is a good thing. I understood more about the complexities and opportunities that are required to improve health care. Although I joined PVN in 2010, it wasn’t until 2014, when I met my engagement leader that I became more active as a volunteer. Cathy asked me to work with Millie Percival on the Mills Memorial Indigenous emergency communication pamphlet.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to:

  • Influence communication to Indigenous patients at Mills Memorial Hospital
  • Be part of the PVN Oversight and Advisory Committee
  • Speak at the International Patient- and Family-Centered Care conference in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Provide benefits to my local community with child dental surgeries, and
  • Work on ensuring that the process of becoming a PVN patient partner is culturally safe

I have learned so much about innovation and capacity building by being part of the network. I signed up to build my leadership skills, however, I experienced benefits for myself, my community and Indigenous peoples throughout the province. Being a “patient” with PVN is meaningful. At every engagement I participate in, I learn many things about life, quality improvement and health care. It meets my values and goals of being part of a network of improvement.

Indigenous people can be a hard-to-reach population in public engagement and are not always present in health care discussions. We need to co-design moving health in small communities forward, together. For example, in First Nations communities everyone comes together to celebrate the health of the community. One demonstration of this is the large number of people who attend feasts and celebrations. Most First Nations communities have high hopes for a better health care system, one that will thrive no matter the patient’s experience. I envision a system that is committed to wellness and therefore I remain a part of PVN for my community and to encourage others to help co-create solutions that last.

As an Indigenous female patient partner, I have been honoured to contribute. I have been accepted, welcomed and respectfully engaged. I have provided an Indigenous lens to quality-care changes in the health care system.

PVN is a group where I have met many like-minded people striving for a common goal to improve the quality of care. PVN is one way to change the system and anyone can do it!

Guest-author
Cherie Mercer

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