Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Meeting in Midland hears concerns of First Nations patients

Respect for traditional healing, need for improved funding raised

By Jenni Dunning

Midland Mirror

MIDLAND – Doctors should work more closely with traditional medicine and healers when it comes to First Nations patients.


That was just one of the suggestions at a North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) meeting last week about aboriginal health care. About 50 people attended the Aug. 15 session at the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre.

Although attendees split into smaller groups to brainstorm recommendations to make health care better, there were many similar suggestions offered.

“Western doctors need to be more open to traditional healing methods,” read a point written down by one of the groups.

“When a non-aboriginal doctor says, ‘Trust me,’ the patient is done. They want to be listened to,” said Leah Bergstrome, aboriginal patient navigator Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s cancer centre in Barrie.

She said many aboriginal patients want to work with doctors and incorporate traditional methods and wisdom into their health-care plans.

“There is a lack of education among primary health-care providers – a lack of understanding,” she added. “They don’t recognize the health burdens of the community and how they’ve come about.”

Several people noted a lack of funding for traditional medicine is part of the problem.

“We should have a funding model that satisfies the people,” said former Midland mayor George MacDonald.

“There are cancer runs, there are all these walkathons. We need our people to help,” another participant piped up.

Other groups recommended First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, and not the Community Care Access Centre, should be in charge of defining their own standards for health care and home care.

The LHIN is holding a general meeting about health care Aug. 28 in Penetanguishene.

Treasa Labaj, the LHIN’s director of communications and community engagement, said the organization also plans to start a patient care advisory committee made up of local residents.

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