The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is "alarmed" over the alleged treatment of two elderly patients in Prince Albert's Victoria Hospital.
FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt is calling for more First Nations health supports after hearing "very disturbing" concerns from the families of two patients. One is an older adult woman who he says received rude and unprofessional treatment from staff members; the other is an 88-year-old man who Pratt says doesn't speak English and has been treated in isolation.
Pratt said the woman preferred to remain anonymous because she feared sharing her concerns would lead to worse treatment.
"Our elderly patients are too scared to speak out against poor treatment or can’t speak out at all because no one speaks the same language as them,” he said.
In a prepared statement on Friday, Pratt called on the provincial government to "do something about all of the complaints that come in regarding First Nations patients at this hospital."
He said the concerns illustrate the need for care from Indigenous doctors and nurses, in addition to translation and patient support services.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is aware of some of the concerns, noted Andrew McLetchie, vice-president for integrated northern health.
In a prepared statement, he said the SHA "reached out to ensure the patient has the supports they require" and that he encourages anyone with concerns to contact the quality of care co-ordinators.
"(SHA) is committed to providing the best possible care experience and we are always concerned when this does not occur," he said in the statement.
For patients who don't speak English, he said SHA supports include staff members and partner organizations. He said the SHA arranges for family members to be present to support patient communication. If there are barriers to that service, he pointed patients and families to the SHA First Nations and Metis Health Services.
He said work is ongoing on cultural responsiveness training and workforce representation, among other strategies, and First Nations and Métis communities "will continue to be an important component across all our initiatives, including the (Prince Albert) Victoria redevelopment project."
Pratt said a language barrier contributes to the challenges facing Elders who may only speak Cree or Dene. While families would usually accompany them to hospital visits, many are unable to provide supports to Elders because of the pandemic.
"These elderly patients need the help of translators and patient support services to understand what is happening to them and to be informed of the type of care they are receiving."
Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix