Last year a searing provincial report concluded that “racism is an ugly and undeniable problem in B.C. health care.” And now the B.C. government is reviewing what could be the latest example: a pregnant Haisla woman who was denied service at Kitimat General Hospital and then had a stillborn baby after she was forced to travel to Terrace.
“We cannot speak to the specific situation, however we expect those in our health-care system across our province to provide culturally safe care to Indigenous people and all people, no matter the situation,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said.
“There is no place for racism in our health-care system, and any discriminatory or racist behaviour is a violation of our principles, policies and values.”
Last Wednesday a young Haisla woman named Sarah Morrison showed up two weeks overdue at Kitimat General experiencing contractions. But she was told to travel to Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and nobody offered transport, the woman’s father Theo Morrison alleged. “I was told she was denied service for whatever reason,” he explained to the Northern Sentinel.
Now she’s grieving the loss of her baby and demanding answers. “She’s devastated. She’s broken. Living her worst nightmare,” the woman’s uncle said.
Dix said the province is looking into it. “Northern Health has initiated a review which will work with the family and the health-care provider to determine exactly what happened in this situation,” he said.
But the problem is likely much bigger than this single incident, as the report last year from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond explained: “Our review found clear evidence of a much more widespread and insidious problem – a lack of cultural safety and hundreds of examples of prejudice and racism throughout the entire B.C. health-care system.”