Montfort and Wabano Center join forces to improve indigenous health care

A memorandum of understanding will get the two organizations to work together to find gaps in the service and take steps to improve it.

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Montfort Hospital rarely hears complaints from its many native patients. And for the hospital’s CEO Dr. Bernard Leduc, that’s a bad thing.

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“When people are dissatisfied with the service and complain, we see it as an unfortunate event, but we also see it as a huge opportunity for improvement,” Leduc said.

“But we realized early on that we do not have information about our First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Because of the trauma from residential schools and colonization in the last 400 years, they are not complaining. They are not using the system we have put in place. They are afraid that if they complain, their care will get even worse. ”

So the hospital did not wait to act. This week, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wabano Center for Aboriginal Health to work together to address the gaps in services affecting indigenous peoples and take steps to improve them.

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“We realize we are not perfect,” Leduc said. “We have a duty to inform ourselves and understand what the problems are,” he said.

Wabano is conducting a study of indigenous peoples’ experiences in hospitals in the area and has identified racism as one of the biggest complaints, particularly in “hot spot” areas of maternity wards and emergency departments, Wabano CEO Allison Fisher said.

So far, about 150 members of Montfort’s frontline staff have received cultural sensitivity training from the Wabano Center.

The Memorandum of Understanding also provides a mechanism for Wabano and Montfort to discuss and address sensitive and critical issues facing indigenous peoples, to create “a fairer and more inclusive health system” and to address specific needs such as mental health, suicide, addiction, chronic illness and children’s health problems.

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The disturbing case of Joyce Echaquan, a mother of seven who endured racist insults from a nurse while lying dying in a hospital in Joliette, Que., Is just one example of the barriers that native patients face.

“It’s unfortunate that it took a death before they even bother to look at their system,” Fisher said. “I know the community where Joyce came from had been complaining about it for years, but no one was listening,” Fisher said.

“Montfort listened, and they really heard what we were saying, and they came back with ideas of where to start.”

To celebrate the Wabano-Montfort Agreement, a painting by Mohawk artist Lee Claremont will have an honor at the Montfort Family Birthing Center. Its title? New beginning.

“I think when people go to a hospital, there has to be a level of confidence that they are getting the same care as everyone else,” Fisher said. “But that’s not how the indigenous people feel. They think they will receive less care or that they may even be injured. So they avoid going to the hospital and they get more and more sick and it becomes a critical issue. “

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