Note from Michael April 29 2023 | QEH Electrical Upgrade success; Introducing Mi’kmaq Health Service Navigators

From the desk of Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO


Notes from MichaelHi everybody,

When things go well, we often don’t hear about it. I think we need to change that, starting with a shout-out to the QEH team and everyone across the system who planned and delivered on an important electrical upgrade to the hospital Thursday. 
This maintenance work had the potential to really impact the health system if things went wrong. It required a shutdown of the circuits powering lights and most electrical outlets in the emergency department, SPD, and laundry. A lot of careful work and planning had to be done to ensure capacity on medical units and to provide options for the public to avoid a backup in the ED and compromised care.
Through the course of months of planning, the QEH team engaged other Health PEI service areas to ensure a system-wide approach to the plan, including hospitals across PEI, Mental Health and Addictions, Primary Care, Home Care, Long Term Care, Patient Flow, Emergency Management, and multiple administration team members. One of the key priorities leading into the event was to have no admitted patients waiting in the ED when the electrical teams started their work – a goal that was achieved through hard work and planning. The day went smoothly (with a couple hiccups, which always happen) and the upgrade was completed earlier than expected. This is a good example of the success we can have when our teams work together. We’re trying to do the same sort of provincial-level planning in other areas, including preparations at the PCH for Internal Medicine coverage next month, even as we continue to recruit into the system. Historically, a physician shortage at one of our hospitals might have been seen as a local problem. It isn’t. It is a problem for the whole Island that requires a response from the whole health care system.
Ironically, the pressure cooker of COVID – as detrimental as it has been to staff fatigue and burnout – has left us with frameworks we can use to better work as one system. That’s a big advantage we will have as we go through the current challenge of being understaffed and tired as we get to the sustainable, functioning system we all want to be. 
Thanks again to everyone who was involved in Thursday’s event.
Introducing Mi’kmaq Health Service Navigators this Patient Experience Week

It’s Patient Experience Week nationally, an important week to recognize the people who work to ensure patients receive the healthcare experience they need every day. That, of course, includes all our, staff, our patient and family partners, and our patient experience team, filled with excellent navigators who have been guiding patients through our health system. 
We’re so excited to welcome two new Mi’kmaq Health Service Navigators to the Health PEI system: Crissy Riley (Mi’kmaq Navigator East) and Shelby Arsenault (Mi’kmaq Navigator West).
These individuals were hired by Abegweit First Nation and Lennox Island First Nation through funding from Health PEI. They will work closely with our healthcare teams as they help Indigenous people access services. Please welcome them as they work with teams across the Island to break down any barriers to good care. Please take a moment to read about their experience in the below profiles, which they submitted.
Shelby Arsenault – Mi’kmaq Navigator West:
My name is Shelby Arsenault, I am a 28-year-old Mi’kmaq woman from Lennox Island First Nation. I have spent my whole life on the reserve only leaving to obtain my BScN from UPEI in 2017. I decided to leave the profession in 2018 to do some career exploration and spent 3 years working at the Bideford Shellfish Hatchery, specializing in oyster seed production which is also owned by Lennox Island. I currently reside on Lennox Island with my husband Mark and our little funny farm of pets! This year I was given the opportunity to return to nursing in my community at the Lennox Island Health Centre as the Mi’kmaq Health Systems Navigator. Within this role, I assist community members navigate the health care system and also other services directly related to their health and well-being. As a descendant of a Shubenacadie Residential School Survivor and also a community member myself, I bring an extra set of skills to this profession with additional understanding and knowledge of factors affecting our indigenous population.   
Crissy Riley, Mi’kmaq Navigator East:

My name is Crissy Riley.  I live in Cardigan, PEI with my husband Brent.  I have two sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and two precious grandsons, Ira and Mercer.  I have been a Volunteer Medical First Responder with Cardigan Fire Department for over 17 years and I love my community, my family, camping, and boating on the beautiful Cardigan River!

I have been an LPN for over 20 years. During my career, I have worked in a few departments in the health care system on PEI: Provincial Home Care, Kings County Memorial Hospital, and the Prince Edward Home.  My experiences with these placements allowed me to gather insight into some levels of care that a client would attain through our Provincial Health System.

I decided to take a course in specialized diabetic foot care over 15 years ago and provided advanced diabetic foot care for Murphy’s Pharmacies for 5 years. This tenure proved invaluable in creating relationships with other disciplines within Health PEI such as Wound Care, Occupational Therapy, Physicians and Orthopedic Specialists.  During my time with Murphy’s, I had been doing Diabetic Foot Care for Abegweit First Nation on a contractual basis and quickly formed a relationship with the Health Centre staff and Community members.
I began my employment with Abegweit Health Center full-time in 2008.  
As a Community Health Nurse in Abegweit, myself and two other nurses run the following programs:  Home Care, Primary Care, Venipuncture, Palliative Care, Mental Health and Addictions, Immunizations, COVID Clinics, Prenatal Care, Diabetic Foot Care and Diabetes and Hypertension Management.  We could not run these programs without the partnership of Health PEI, and I currently have many valuable contacts within the Provincial Health System.

I have recently accepted the position of Mi’kmaq Health Systems Navigator for Abegweit First Nation.  In this new role I hope to be able to further assist my Community with navigation our health care system for my clients, their families, and our community as a whole.  I am proud to take on this new role and am excited to create collaboration, new relationships and partnerships with you all! 
Welcome to you both.



Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to, subject line “Notes for Michael”.