Cree woman files complaint of racism after treatment at Val d'Or hospital
Natasia Mukash Iserhoff says she was 'treated so poorly for being Cree' after being medevaced to Val d'Or
After ten days of severe pain and bleeding, Natasia Mukash Iserhoff did not expect an ordeal when she was medevaced from her home community of Whapmagoostui, the northernmost Cree community in Quebec, to the Val d'Or hospital on May 3.
Suffering from complications related to a miscarriage, Mukash Iserhoff was told at midnight to leave the hospital and stay at a hotel. After overhearing the nurses talk about her, Mukash Iserhoff felt she was being "treated so poorly for being Cree."
- Matthew Iserhoff tells his wife's story, in Cree
"I was getting hysterical and crying, and I was in pain waiting for the doctor to see me, which never happened until the next morning," Mukash Iserhoff said in an interview. "I felt so alone."
She filed a complaint with the Cree Health Board's complaints commission and the Val d'Or hospital.
"I overheard the nurse speaking about me," said Mukash Iserhoff, who, unlike most Cree, speaks fluent French. "She was saying things like: 'She has been bleeding for 10 days? She is not staying here. She is leaving and can come back in the morning.'"
Mukash Iserhoff said the nurse's attitude left her in shock, wondering why she was medevaced directly to Val d'Or if her condition was not urgent.
"Her face seemed to change when I told her I spoke French," said Mukash Iserhoff. "After that, they started telling me it was a misunderstanding."
Kathy Shecapio, the director of Cree Patient Services, says that the department is "working at making things better for our people, and helping those who may face similar situations including racism or other mistreatment."
- Kathy Shecapio explains the complaints process, in Cree
"We want to train our own staff to see that they have sensitivity training towards our clients who need their support."
Shecapio encouraged Cree patients to contact the Cree Health Board's complaints commission so that complaints can be documented and addressed.
A spokesperson for the Val d'Or hospital declined to comment, citing confidentiality issues.