Steven Raphael: Building connections for a brighter, healthier Canada

Steven Raphael is a PIPSC member and has been a First Nation Health Authority (FNHA) worker since 2011. He has been part of the PIPSC union community for 4 years and works with nurses, health managers, and medical office assistants to connect them to the networks of care they need.

“Sometimes there is a lot of stress for nurses trying to get access to medical records, so when I’m helping to troubleshoot a problem in our records system, I try to use positive language to help nurses feel like they’ve had a “win” in their day,” he says.

Through his work, Steven helps improve access to electronic clinical documentation systems, like Panorama Health Records, that help get British Columbians the care they need. Panorama gives nurses in BC communities direct access to individuals’ public health records. Steven’s work is important because he ensures healthcare providers get timely access to correct healthcare data for the individuals they care for.

He is proud of the relationships he has developed with nurses and healthcare providers at different First Nations health services organizations. Grassroots-level relationships are what drive positive change most in the communities Steven works with. He is also proud of the connections he has developed with stakeholders at the FNHA, and with provincial-level partners. Without these strong relationships, Steven says that developing better healthcare systems for First Nations wouldn’t be possible.

“Working with nurses and health managers directly as well as medical office assistants, those are all relationships. Without those relationships you don’t get buy-in and they don’t get that support, so it’s important.”

As a community member, dad and public service worker, Steven knows that community is at the center of good healthcare.

“It’s about the circle of care. The client is in the middle of that circle, and the healthcare providers focus on that inner circle, the client. I get to be a part of that,” he says.

Strong union support is a big part of making the healthcare circle work. Unions make sure that workers like Steven are able to get the support they need to deliver important services that impact patient care. During the pandemic, a big part of that was making sure Steven and his coworkers had what they needed to work and assist healthcare providers from home.

“If I had the same job offered to me, if I would do this exact same work for the exact same pay but not have the union benefit plan, I wouldn’t do it. This union has supported me, but it has also supported my employer,” he says. “I’m proud to be a PIPSC member because I’ve experienced their support directly.”

In 2013, Steven’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. Because of this, Steven’s employer and union came together to make sure he had everything he needed to continue being able to work while also looking after his wife and four daughters.

“It was thanks to the family support leave with PIPSC that I was able to leverage that time and support my family during that cancer fight,” he says.

Steven’s wife, Rochelle, passed away in 2019 after fighting cancer bravely for six years. 

“Without union, hospice and other support from family, we probably wouldn’t have been so successful in keeping our lives together,” he added. “The union really helped me change my working hours, allowed me time to get my kids to school, walk with my youngest and support them in grieving the loss of their mom.”

Steven has experienced the healthcare system inside and out, and he knows how much hard work and dedication goes into creating a system that helps and supports families in times of need.

His primary goal is to ensure healthcare services continue to be developed by First Nations people for First Nations people, and as a union we stand by him. PIPSC will be there to support important public servants like Steven who make a difference in people’s lives every day.