Indigenous patients still waiting for equity in health care system: CMA health summit - APTN NewsAPTN News

Indigenous patients still waiting for equity in health care system: CMA health summit

(Brian Sinclair died of a treatable bladder infection in 2008 after sitting in a wheelchair in a Winnipeg hospital for 34 hours.)

The Canadian Press
First Nations doctors shared personal stories at a national health summit to demonstrate how Indigenous patients still face racism and unequal access to treatment across the country.

Dr. Alika Lafontaine, a Cree and Anishinaabe anesthesiologist, spoke in front of hundreds of health professionals at the Canadian Medical Association inaugural Health Summit in Winnipeg on Monday.

“A lot of the issues in Indigenous health actually aren’t unique, they are just magnified,” Lafontaine told the room, pointing to things like trust between patients and doctors, communication and compassion fatigue.

“If you look at Indigenous health they are magnified, they are worse than they are in the mainstream system.”

The presentation explored ways to advance Indigenous health and health care in Canada.

Lafontaine, who lives in Edmonton, said there have been a lot of improvements since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where survivors shared their experiences in residential schools. He said doctors now recognize that many Indigenous patients have previous trauma that shouldn’t be dismissed.

But he added that doctors need to recognize how inherent biases can still affect how a patient is treated.

He explained how a family member called him for medical advice complaining of a very specific pain and the doctor knew immediately that it was appendicitis. He sent the relative to the hospital where he was told it was probably just kidney stones.

Lafontaine knew the diagnosis was wrong and was able to advocate for his relative, who ended up getting emergency surgery.

Lafontaine said the experience shows that it doesn’t matter how successful you are out in the world, “when I put on that hospital gown I’m just another Indian.”

The summit was held not far from the hospital where an Indigenous man, Brian Sinclair, died in 2008. An inquest into the 45-year-old man’s death heard how he died of a treatable bladder infection after sitting in a wheelchair for 34 hours.

Indigenous patients have had similar experiences across Canada, said panellist Cara Bablitz, a Metis doctor from Edmonton.

Bablitz recounted a story from medical school about a friend’s mother, who was Indigenous, had liver failure. The medication the mother was given caused incontinence.

“My friend said (to a nurse), ‘Can you please help me change my mom,’ and the nurse said to my friend, ‘She did this to herself, she can sit in it for awhile,”’ Bablitz said.

“This was an eye-opening experience that shed light on where we need to go and what we need to do.”

Earlier presentations at the summit saw technological advances, including a hologram, that could improve health for Canadians. But the doctors said when it comes to Indigenous health, they are still fighting for equal access to services and funding.

“Treaty Peoples aren’t necessarily ‘patients plus,’ despite people’s perceptions. They are usually ‘patients minus.’ What we are really fighting for is ‘patients equal,”’ said Lafontaine in an interview after the panel.

Indigenous people must start working together to send a message to all levels of government that they have a right to equal access to health care, he said.

“We have to reach out to each other and identify how we can support each other and then we all have to come forward with something we share.”

“I think the days of declaring crisis, we have to move pass that. That can’t be the end of it. That’s just the beginning.”

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2 Responses to “Indigenous patients still waiting for equity in health care system: CMA health summit”

  1. ben_fp19@outlook.com'
    Ben F. Pierre August 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

    Important reviews must be conducted to hold the College of Physicians and surgeons accountable, codes of ethics that physicians and specialists need to honour.
    My brother, who lived on the streets and eventually through prayers and families love, rehabilitated his life and then faced medical challenges from the life style he was leading, has resulted in negligence of doctors and specialists. Using the past history against him and not acting in the honorable way, as an example, he has a very damaged right knee and after several specialist appointments and many radiology imaging appointments, which took over a year completing,was at the 11th hour told the specialist was not confident enough to complete a full knee replacement.

    Looking into the specialists billings through the First Nations Health Authority his medical billings through Indian, Northern Affairs was billed into the thousands of dollars and to be then advised there would be no more consultations or appointments is reckless financial manipulation by this specialist.

    Now he can barely walk without the aide of crutches is pure negligence and there should be a fiduciary obligation because of the monies this specialist earned. Fraud is my opinion and you imagine the many other Aboriginal brothers and sisters that have been dealt a similar situation. Just because he’s aboriginal it doesn’t give the right to be used as a meal ticket!!!!

  2. b*******@outlook.com'
    Ben F. Pierre February 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm #

    Important reviews must be conducted to hold the College of Physicians and surgeons accountable, codes of ethics that physicians and specialists need to honour.
    My brother, who lived on the streets and eventually through prayers and families love, rehabilitated his life and then faced medical challenges from the life style he was leading, has resulted in negligence of doctors and specialists. Using the past history against him and not acting in the honorable way, as an example, he has a very damaged right knee and after several specialist appointments and many radiology imaging appointments, which took over a year completing,was at the 11th hour told the specialist was not confident enough to complete a full knee replacement.

    Looking into the specialists billings through the First Nations Health Authority his medical billings through Indian, Northern Affairs was billed into the thousands of dollars and to be then advised there would be no more consultations or appointments is reckless financial manipulation by this specialist.

    Now he can barely walk without the aide of crutches is pure negligence and there should be a fiduciary obligation because of the monies this specialist earned. Fraud is my opinion and you imagine the many other Aboriginal brothers and sisters that have been dealt a similar situation. Just because he’s aboriginal it doesn’t give the right to be used as a meal ticket!!!!