She claimed that nurses complained regularly about the tasks involved in her care during her two-week stay and made her feel guilty about making them work.
An Inuk woman from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, claims nurses at a hospital in Ottawa mistreated her during her two-week stay at the facility following a pelvis injury. Leesee Qaqasiq said she had to call 911 in desperation after the nurses on the night shift at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital denied her water and refused to change her diaper. According to CBC News, Qaqasiq was flown to Ottawa after she fractured her pelvis in mid-October. It's a common practice for Nunavummiut requiring medical care to be medevaced to facilities in southern Canada since the territory has limited medical facilities.
Nunavut woman says she called 911 from Ottawa hospital after being denied waterhttps://t.co/OCf1wcrehR— Émilie Pelletier (@empelletierLD) November 16, 2020
Qaqasiq said doctors told her she may have sustained the injury from landing too hard on her wheelchair. She added that she often has to chase after the wheelchair — which was salvaged at the dump — when she's not sitting in it because it has no brakes. Upon arrival at the Ottawa Hospital, Qaqasiq was heavily reliant on the staff as her injury made it difficult for her to do much. "I had to rely on the nurses to change me, to change my diapers, and they were so tired of doing it that they said I can just pee in them," she said from her home on Baffin Island.
You wonder why indigenous people avoid hospitals? Because we know they aren’t going to help us anyway. So many times I refused going bc I know they won’t take me serious or actually help me. Canada’s entire health care system doesn’t care for indigenous lives. Such a joke. https://t.co/ZLy9UWTiSF— Haix YOOU (@RememberMMIW) October 16, 2020
Things got so bad towards the end of her stay that on November 2, Qaqasiq said nurses on the night shift refused to change her diaper and denied her water so that she wouldn't urinate. "There was one [nurse] that said I peed too much and denied me water because I was going to pee too much," she said. "I wasn't given water all night long until I called 911 in desperation. I thought I was going to die of thirst."
Highlighting the intersections of racism and COVID-19 that "leave Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) 'more exposed and less protected' to harms during the pandemic, with a particular focus on healthcare, labour, and housing." https://t.co/It3ZCmTOQv— Centre for Health Equity and Social Inclusion (@CRHESI) November 13, 2020
Emergency medical services eventually arrived at her hospital room and delivered bottles of water to her, said Qaqasiq. She claimed that nurses complained regularly about the tasks involved in her care during her two-week stay and made her feel guilty about taking their help. Qaqasiq, who attended residential school as a child, believes she was mistreated because she's Inuk. "I felt guilty for making them work," she said. "We're done. Like, we're not going to be treated like that anymore, anywhere." She added that after her experience at the hospital, she is concerned about the elders in her community who may have to seek medical care in such facilities.
#gndr1000 The discrimination and neglect that Joyce Echaquan was subjected to in her last moments is truly heartbreaking. Her story and sadly the stories of many other Indigenous people highlight systemic racism in our healthcare system. https://t.co/10oxv24ybw— Rachel (@rachellouise358) November 10, 2020
"What I'm most afraid of is elders who cannot speak English — how will they be treated?" she asked. "They will have no way of knowing what to do, where to go, who to talk to." The Ottawa Hospital denied reporters requests for an interview but addressed the incident in a written statement. Media relations officer Michaela Schreiter said in the statement that the hospital's patient relations department is "reviewing the situation to ensure all concerns are addressed. The hospital sincerely apologizes for any negative experiences that do not align with [its] values."
Listening to a radio show discussing indigenous racism in Canada especially healthcare. I have lived it.— Marilyn Yvonne (King) Nowak (@mernino2k2) November 16, 2020
There have long been complaints of indigenous patients being mistreated by Canadian health care workers. Cheryl Ward, the B.C. provincial lead for the San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Program — which is designed to "increase Aboriginal-specific knowledge, enhance individual self-awareness and strengthen skills for any professional working directly or indirectly with Indigenous people" — has personally experienced racism in Canada's health-care system. "I can tell you horror stories... My own mother experienced overt racism, violence and was treated like she wasn't a human being," she told CBC News.
This re-aired yesterday because it's still relevant today. My colleagues at San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Program and @MarciaJAnderson speak about personal experiences and the San'yas training.— Diane Smylie (@DianeSmylie) November 15, 2020
Confronting racism in health care | CBC Radio https://t.co/S2XN8GIhU7
Ward added that Canadians like to believe that Indigenous people are treated as "full members of society," even when evidence suggests otherwise. "What happens when we are faced with reports and data and statistics that show us that Indigenous people have a different reality in Canada. What do we do about it?" she asked.