After repeated complaints over the quality of services provided, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB) says it plans to stop using private boarding homes to house patients coming for medical treatment in Montreal.
The most recent incident happened before Christmas, when patients staying at one Montreal area home were left unattended and without food or care for two nights, and turned to Facebook for help.
"There were three women (there) who were breast feeding and they had nothing to eat," said Alan Gull, who works for Native Para Judicial Services in Montreal, who saw the Facebook post and brought food to them.
"I felt sorry for them."
The CBHSSJB has launched an investigation into the matter, but also says it plans to stop using private boarding homes altogether by June in an attempt to improve the quality of services. Many Cree patients must be sent south to either Montreal, Chibougamau or Val d'Or for medical treatment, because of a lack of specialists in the communities.
"If you look just in Montreal we have 60,000 nights that we have in lodging, in boarding homes, hotels and private homes and others," said Daniel St. Amour, who is the interim Executive Director of the CBHSSJB.
"The problem when they are scattered is that to pick them up on time and ensure the clients are on time," he said.
It is also hard to monitor the quality.
The CBHSSJB currently uses about 6 private boarding homes in Montreal, but plans to put out a call for tender in January looking for a block of rooms under one roof, likely in a hotel.
St. Amour says having all the Cree patients under one roof, and on one floor, will make it much easier to co-ordinate transportation and control quality of lodging and food.
"We can ensure the hygiene is top notch, we will provide security on that floor and we will make sure in that facility that nutrition is up to the best standard that you can have in a health care facility," said St. Amour.