By Ken MacQueen - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 0 Comments
Poverty isn’t unique to Aboriginals, but Canada’s health disparities are most apparent among them
On Feb. 4, Maclean’s is hosting “Health Care in Canada: Poor Health No More,” a town hall discussion at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The free, two-hour event—focusing on the social conditions that impact the health and longevity of Canada’s Aboriginal people—is held in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association, and will be broadcast by CPAC. The conversation on the effect of social disparities on health will continue in the coming months in the magazine, and at town halls in Hamilton, Calgary, and Charlottetown.
It was 3 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2008, when 45-year-old Brian Sinclair rolled his wheelchair into the emergency department of the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre, referred by a clinic doctor because of a bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter. He was a Metis with a cascade of social and health issues, the product of a mother haunted by her residential school experience. He had neurological and speech problems, a past history of substance abuse. He’d lost both legs to frostbite in 2007 after spending a bitter February night outside. His landlord had locked him out.
To some who saw him on the streets he was a stereotype of dysfunction. But what killed him in this busy, inner-city hospital on a September weekend were equally insidious attitudes that rendered Sinclair invisible. He spoke to a staff member at the triage desk, then rolled into the waiting area . . . and waited, vomiting and growing weaker. When he finally received medical attention—almost 34 hours later—it was to pronounce him dead. Fellow patients had found him dead in his wheelchair. The cause of death was “peritoneal infection.” A change of catheter and antibiotics could have saved him. An inquest will finally be held this August. But as a headline succinctly said, Brian Sinclair was “ignored to death.” Continue…