North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN Aboriginal Patient Navigator Wins Medal for Coordinating Access to Cancer Services

Leah Bergstrome Awarded Minister’s Medal Honouring Excellence in Health Quality and Safety 

October 20, 2016

This year’s Individual Champion Minister’s Medal Award Winner is Leah Bergstrome, an Aboriginal Patient Navigator with the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program. She received the honour for her exceptional work in facilitating and coordinating access not only to cancer services, but to all the basic needs that patients require such as food, shelter, education and other health care services.

The medals are part of an annual recognition program that celebrates the efforts of Ontario’s health care providers in going above and beyond to improve care for patients and families in Ontario. 

Ms. Bergstrome’s exceptional work focuses on the cultural and spiritual needs of patients and their families. She works together with North Simcoe Muskoka First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities, and with non-Aboriginal partners for the betterment of her patients. She leverages her skills to mentor other providers on how to provide culturally competent care. 

Through recognizing and addressing each unique patient’s health literacy abilities, Ms. Bergstrome has helped patients have a better understanding of their health and treatment programs, has increased patient awareness and compliance and has improved patient outcomes. 

Ms. Bergstrome is recognized in the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN as a system leader who has the capacity to inspire her peers. Her ability to effectively educate providers and staff throughout the region — on topics such as cultural safety and the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission — has gone a long way in ensuring the needs of Aboriginal patients are being met. 

Aboriginal Patient Navigation services have been offered to patients and family members of the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program since fall 2013 as part of the Cancer Program’s commitment to the Aboriginal Cancer Strategy. 

Recognizing excellence in health care to improve care for patients is part of the government's Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.


“Ms. Bergstrome’s leadership is an excellent example of the incredible impact that Ontario’s health care professionals can have on improving the quality of patients’ lives. She demonstrates how Ontario’s health care professionals continue to use innovation, collaboration and compassion to continually improve the care they provide to their patients.”  

  • Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“On behalf of the board and staff of the NSM LHIN, I’d like to congratulate Leah on this significant achievement. Leah’s commitment to the health care needs of our North Simcoe Muskoka indigenous communities is greatly appreciated and valued.  Identifying the significance of cultural diversity helps ensure an integrated health care system remains truly focused on patient-centred care.”

  • Jill Tettmann, CEO, North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network

“As a cancer survivor, I appreciate how important Leah’s work has been. This is a very scary time in a patient’s life, and Leah has reduced the stress and confusion these people often experience. Congratulations, Leah! Thank you for your great work.”

  • Ann Hoggarth, MPP Barrie


  • The Minister’s Medals to Honour Excellence in Health Quality and Safety is a competitive, annual recognition program that celebrates the collaborative efforts of Ontario’s health care providers in improving care for Ontarians.
  • This year marked the fourth year of the Minister’s Medal program.
  • The medal is awarded to one individual who has demonstrated leadership in focusing on quality; and one team-based initiative that demonstrates commitment to collaboration, improvements in the health system and value for quality care.  

  • Jill Tettmann, CEO, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN
  • Jill Tettmann, CEO, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN