NEWS

Dawson Creek Hospital patients allege racism

04/23/2015 08:44 EDT | Updated 07/21/2015 12:59 EDT
Two people in northern B.C. are alleging they faced possible racism at the Dawson Creek Hospital after being dismissed as intoxicated.

Angela Healey, who is First Nations, took her 19-year-old son to the hospital when he was having a bad reaction to medication.

Healey alleges the on-call doctor called him a junkie and said not to treat him until there was a full toxicology screen.

Healey filed a complaint with Northern Health Authority. The health authority told the CBC it has met with the family and continues to work with them, but wouldn't provide further details, citing patient confidentiality.

After hearing Healey's story, senior Leona Green told the CBC she had a similar experience at the hospital several months ago.

Green says she went to the hospital at 8 a.m. PT after experiencing a bad reaction to medication.

She alleges she was immediately hustled into another room and told to sober up, and claims she had to take a urine test to prove her sobriety.

Green is of Irish descent, but says she could pass for aboriginal, and believes racism may have been at issue.

Green never filed a complaint.

Cultural sensitivity training

Northern Health says all staff are encouraged, but not required, to take online cultural sensitivity training provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority.

According to the Northern Health website, 500 free spaces are made available to employees every year. 

About 2,100 people of the approximately 7,000 staff have taken the course so far, said spokesperson Jonathon Dyck in an e-mail statement.

"We recognize and accept there is still work to do to ensure all of our staff and physicians are culturally sensitive while providing care," wrote Dyck.

"We will continue to work with First Nations communities, key stakeholders, and our Aboriginal Health Department to improve our cultural sensitivity."

The statement goes on to say there is an expectation for staff to be "respectful and courteous to all patients," and that the health authority encourages anyone who does have an issue to contact it for follow-up.

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