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Being a patient partner at Northern Health: Jasmine Pocha’s story


Woman smiles at camera while holding a black cat
Northern Health patient partner Jasmine Pocha with her cat Momo Photo: Corry Pocha

We’ve all likely had experience interacting with the health care system, whether it was your regular check-up or something needing more immediate attention. Patient partners are patients who take those experiences and share their suggestions to help improve the care that people receive. They provide the patient perspective to health organizations, playing a crucial role in today’s health care system.

In the North and throughout the province, patient partners are recruited through the Patient Voices Network (PVN). The PVN promotes a variety of opportunities for volunteers to work with health agencies to offer the patient perspective.

Jasmine Pocha, or “Jazzy,” as her friends affectionately call her, was born and raised in Terrace, BC. She’s very creative and enjoys activities like painting, crafting, story-writing, and anything related to Asian culture and language. She adores her cat Momo, whose name means peach blossom in Japanese, and has plans to write a novel. 

Jazzy first became a patient partner three years ago when she was invited to work on a special project with Northern Health. She was among four patient partners who were asked to share their thoughts on the existing signage at the Terrace Health Unit.

Jazzy has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that’s considered to be on the high functioning end of the spectrum. As such, she experiences great anxiety when going to new places and meeting new people. The need for clear signage was important to her because it would help reduce her anxiety when accessing the health unit.

“It’s hard enough being told that you have a mental health issue and accepting it and then having to go to a new place to talk to new people about it. That’s scary,” said Jasmine. “If there aren’t clear directions, it will only increase someone’s anxiety and apprehension when they are reaching out for help.”

For this reason, her input was very valuable. She was able to identify several areas that others could not, where the signage could be clearer. 

“I liked being able to make a difference by sharing my perspective,” noted Jasmine.

After working with Jasmine, the PVN volunteers, inter-professional Community Services Manager, team leads, and Practice Support Coach determined the top priorities for signage improvements, and sent them to leadership for approval. As a result, Northern Health approved several changes to the signs at the health unit and aims to make additional changes in the future.

“Being involved in this project made me feel anxious but excited. I was anxious because it took me out of my comfort zone to interact with people on the project, but I was excited because I was able to help others going through the same experience I was,” said Jasmine.

Jasmine looks forward to future collaborative projects with PVN, if they’re a good fit for her. In addition, she also enjoys volunteering for various groups in her community. She’s currently involved with a group writing letters to provide encouragement and support for people in her community struggling with isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about how you can become a patient partner today!