‘The emergency room is only for emergencies’: Inuit family says health services neglect lead to death of loved one - APTN NewsAPTN News

‘The emergency room is only for emergencies’: Inuit family says health services neglect lead to death of loved one


Tom Fennario
APTN National News
An Inuit family in Nunavik says neglect of health services led to the death of a loved one in their community of Inukjuak in northern Quebec.

The Kasudluak family was testifying before Quebec’s inquiry Thursday in Kuujjuaraapik, Nunavik. The inquiry is examining the relationship between some of the province’s departments and Indigenous Peoples.

In the Summer of 2017, a batch of beluga jerky led to tragic case of botulism in Inukjuak.

Janice Kasudluak said she had two days of escalating symptoms.

“I was still vomiting, and my airway and my breathing was getting very shallow and I didn’t want to look at any bright lights,” Janice Kasudluak testified.

Despite describing these symptoms over the phone to her, her local clinic dismissed her calls for help.

Kasudluak testified that she called the clinic four times as her symptoms intensified, and was told repeatedly that the clinic wasn’t able to help her.

Little did she know that that same day, her mother Eva was also struggling to get help from the same clinic.

“The nurse on call was very young, very new, first time I’d seen her, very young she didn’t know what she was doing she was on the phone with the doctor to get instructions,” testified Jobie Kasudluak, Janice’s father and Eva’s husband.

Jobie Kasudluak went on to describe his wife having difficulty breathing, walking and intense vomiting. She was sent home by the nurse on duty after midnight, about two hours after they arrived.

“My wife, she asked if she could stay for the night in the emergency room with oxygen to help her breath but the nurse said, she refused, she said ‘emergency room is for emergencies only,” he said

Jobie Kasudluak would find his wife’s body in the bathroom the next morning.

“The door was open, so I said ‘hey dear, are you okay’ but there was no answer,” Jobie testified while his daughter Janice silently sobbed beside him. “I was talking to her, she didn’t move she didn’t answer thinking she was just sleeping, not hearing me. I shook her a bit, talked to her.

“I touched her body, it was cool.”

This incident took place in the Nunavik village of Inukjuak, near the eastern shores of Hudson’s Bay, about 1,500 km north of Montreal.

Janice and her two year old daughter only survived their cases of botulism after being medivacked to larger cities for treatment.

“Do you think it would have been different, different treatment if that situation had occurred with a white person going to the clinic?” Edith-Farah Elassal, a prosecutor for the Quebec inquiry asked Jobie Kasudluak.

“That person would have been on a medivac in an hour or so because I’ve seen it with teachers and other white people in town,” replied Jobie.

The Kasudluak family also testified that other Inuit from Inukjuak had been sent home from the clinic only to die the next day, both before and after their incident in the summer of 2017.

After community complaints, Jobie testified that things have improved a little at the clinic.

For him and his daughter Janice, it’s cold comfort.

“I just hope that nobody ever goes thorough that, what we went through,” he said.

The Quebec inquiry will hold a final day of hearings Friday in Kuujjuaraapik before travelling next week to Kuujjuaq for their final week of public hearings.



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11 Responses to “‘The emergency room is only for emergencies’: Inuit family says health services neglect lead to death of loved one”

  1. Apilurtuut32@gmail.com'
    Attasi November 18, 2018 at 11:22 pm #

    This is serious matter ! All health matters are important to everyone no matter where it is, WIth all medical or test available today,we should all be cared for, hospitals. medics, madivas are available in 21st century

  2. auntgrizelda@hotmail.com'
    Angela November 17, 2018 at 11:44 pm #

    not necessarily any different for a white person. friend of mine’s dad died of ruptured gallbladder because the doctors assumed he was drunk and kept sending him home despite protests without doing any tests. doctors kept putting me off until a NEW doctor came in and sent me for an ultrasound… ooh look gallstones.

    they also sent me home with ‘false labour’ mere hours before my son was born, given the potentially life threatening nature of that particular birth, its a good thing we went back after shift change!

  3. veraw1270@gmail.com'
    Vera Wallace November 17, 2018 at 12:26 am #

    I feel for the Indigenous people of America. This is wrong and is terrible that it is still happening in our modern day world. The Indigenous people of America have been treated like shit for too long. Hope, love and prayers to this poor family and all others affected by this.

  4. beana4hd@hotmsil.com'
    Bina November 16, 2018 at 6:43 pm #

    I don’t think rasism has anything to do with the negligent staff. They do this on a regular basis.My friend died of a heart attack because he was not screened as urgent he went home and died. The medical systeme fails too many people it is awful!!?

  5. mahara.allbrett@yahoo.com'
    Mahara Allbrett November 16, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

    This is horrific! Charges should be laid against that nurse, her supervisor and the whole racist system that supports this! I feel so much compassion for this family and others who have suffered because of this lack of adequate medical treatment!

  6. Candi_flint@hotmail.com'
    Candi November 16, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

    In the United States not only are people of one race or another treated differently in hospitals or clinics but people on public health care are treated differently. My daughter was poor and had pain in her right arm. She was treated for carpal tunnel. We begged for an ex ray. After two years , they discovered cancer. She died from if. I was on public healthcare and had problems even getting into see a dr . I had misscarried at home and bled for 10 days. I had to call my dr as he worked in the emergency room just to get an appointment. Saw him at 10 and had surgery at 11. But his staff did not think I needed help. I have other statues also. I am not native America but the prejudice for those on public healthcare is still ongoing

  7. jane-kudlu@hotmail.com'
    jane Jeannie Kudlu November 16, 2018 at 4:35 am #

    i Don’t know how to begin this , my son was send out to jail for what he never commit it I think it was in 2009 his lawyer was going to help us what was going to be done but that lawyer never get back at us

    • alancooper50@hotmail.com'
      Alan Cooper November 18, 2018 at 1:46 pm #

      Maybe you could have asked for a free, legal aid lawyer? I hope you get some help soon.

  8. morin.cher@gmail.com'
    Cheryl November 16, 2018 at 3:54 am #

    Every single person must learn that they have the right to a second opinion and must speak up as a group if need be. The young nurse is responsiblenfor the loss of a mother, wife and valuable Elder. I am sorry for their loss, pain and suffering.

    • Bonny.pie@gmail.com'
      Bonnydale November 18, 2018 at 9:50 am #

      Remote communities don’t have options for a second opinion…medical staff are typically on a rotating shift schedule similar in type of an industry work camp. They come to the community spend their shift there in provided accommodations and once their shift is done go back to their home and another nurse arrives. Every community differs in nurse/medical coverage.

  9. hippygypsie@gmail.com'
    Dannica November 16, 2018 at 3:47 am #

    Why are new nurses being sent to handle remote clinics? They are inexperienced and havent had enough training. This is damaging to them as well as their patients. What is considered an emergency if the aireay is tightening???? I truly hope the family sees some compensation for this and I hope the clinic gets properly trained support staff and Drs. A little empathy goes a long way as does proper training .