Aboriginal Care Pharmacist Jesse Inkster is dedicated to helping First Nations members better understand their medications. (screenshot)

Aboriginal Care Pharmacist helps Penelakut members achieve control over their own health

Jesse Inkster is passionate about helping people to understand their medications

Island Health

Jesse Inkster is passionate about helping people to understand their medications — what they are and why they were prescribed. As Island Health’s new Aboriginal Care Pharmacist, Jesse is particularly enthusiastic about the relationships he is building with people in several First Nations communities, including residents of Penelakut Island near Chemainus.

“We initially visited Penelakut in 2018, putting our clinical pharmacy experience on the table and asking community members there to tell us how we could help,” says Inkster. “Respect is the most important component of these relationships — in order to earn the respect of someone sitting in front of me, they must trust that I am listening and want to help.”

Aboriginal Care Pharmacist from Island Health on Vimeo.

Jesse’s role was created through a collaboration between participating communities, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Island Health, and builds on work initially undertaken several years prior between First Nations communities, FNHA and the UBC Pharmacists Clinic. It represents an exciting opportunity for Island Health to better meet the needs of people for whom access to care and trusted support can be a challenge.

“We know there are health disparities for Aboriginal people no matter where they live, but those disparities are far more pronounced in rural and remote communities,” says George Nickoloff, Island Health Pharmacy clinical coordinator, Community Hospitals and Long-term Care. “We realized Penelakut Island and the other First Nations communities are places where the need for a clinical pharmacist is great and the willingness to receive the service is also there.”

Funding for this pilot project has been provided by the FNHA and the project will be evaluated after one year. Along with the Penelakut First Nation, other participants include: Ditidaht First Nation, Cowichan Tribes/Ts’ewulhtun Health, Halalt First Nation/H’ulh-etun Health Society, Lake Cowichan First Nation, Stz’uminus First Nation, Malahat First Nation and Hiiye’yu Lelum House of Friendship.

“Pharmacists are often recognized as the most accessible health care provider, but this accessibility is not consistently experienced by all First Nations communities,” says Cindy Preston, FNHA lead pharmacist and Health Benefits Services lead. “There is a need for culturally-safe and holistic medication management that optimizes drug therapy to ensure it is necessary, safe, and effective. It is exciting to see models of care developing that mobilize and utilize the skills of pharmacists as drug therapy experts in the health and care of First Nations communities and patients.”

As the first partnership of its kind in British Columbia, the Aboriginal Care Pharmacist project is aimed at building relationships between Inkster and various First Nations and Indigenous community members, including life-long Penelakut Island resident, Karen Charlie. Charlie and her husband, Richard, have been seeing Inkster since he started visiting Penelakut and credit his expertise and willingness to listen to their concerns with helping them to achieve greater control over their health.

“Jesse has helped us both so much and played a big role in helping my husband understand why his medication had been prescribed and why it is so important to take it regularly,” says Charlie. “I also asked Jesse to come with me to speak with my doctor about my diabetes medication. My meds were changed after that conversation and my diabetes is now under control.”

In April, a talking circle was held on Penelakut Island to understand community members’ experiences with the new service. Participants expressed an appreciation for Inkster’s open, respectful, caring nature and his ability to listen and communicate clearly.

ALSO READ: Culturally safe space opens at West Coast General Hospital

ALSO READ: Nurse comes home to ‘dream job’ at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

“I can’t even say enough about it because it is so beneficial from the youngest person to the oldest person in our tribe for knowing what their meds are, what they do, and the importance of taking them,” says Karen Charlie. “And personally, with Jesse talking with my doctor about the different alternatives and with them talking with me about what I am going through, my life is more manageable.”

While Inkster is humble about the role he plays, he is also pleased to hear that the regular conversations he has with community members are making a positive impact.

“They speak for me about me and it feels really good to realize that I can help,” he says. “My hope is that people start looking at their medications and realize that they can be the decision makers for their overall health.”

Just Posted

Court awards Nanaimo woman $300,000 after crash exacerbates her fibromyalgia

Judgment follows 2015 motor vehicle accident on Turner Road

UPDATE: Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Secondary no longer under lockdown

Nanaimo RCMP say McGirr Elementary no longer under hold-and-secure procedures.

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor over legislature protest comments

Ben Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

BC Ferries named one of B.C.’s top employers

Health benefits, vacation time and retirement planning cited as top perks

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

UPDATED: 24-hour closure coming to Tofino-Ucluelet highway this weekend

Hwy. 4 at Kennedy Hill will be shut down from 11 a.m. Feb. 22 to at 11 a.m. Feb. 23.

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Grave site at Victoria’s Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

Cherry Bomb Toys, which houses the National Toy Museum of Canada, has had a rough year

The property that’s home to Cherry Bomb Toys is listed at $2.6 million

‘Stretched’ art show returns to Gabriola Island

Artists challenged to create works on six-by-36-inch long canvases

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read