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Health ᒥᔪᐱᒫᑎᓰᐧᐃᓐ

Complaint to health board spotlights poor lodgings for medical patient

BY Sakib Hossain Nov 13, 2023

In a letter addressed to the Commissioner of Complaints for the Cree Health Board, Sarah Cowboy, Kenny Petawabano expressed concerns about the accommodation provided for his daughter, Sonia Petawabano, following her stroke and subsequent handicap in 2020. 

The complaint, delivered this summer, outlined the sequence of events that led to Sonia’s current living situation. Following her stroke in 2020, Sonia was medevaced to Montreal and received hospital care for four months. Upon her return to Chisasibi, her boyfriend’s house had been boarded up, rendering her homeless. Cree Patient Services assured Petawabano that they would provide lodging for Sonia.

However, he contends, Sonia was placed in a residence that did not meet her needs. The living conditions became a source of discomfort for Sonia due to the presence of alcohol and drugs.

Petawabano expressed his dissatisfaction with the Home and Community Care Program’s decision to place his daughter in this residence, describing it as unprofessional with staff who lacked proper training.

In addition, Sonia was promised an apartment suitable for a handicapped individual with her two children. In 2020, the Home and Community Care Program allocated four apartment dwellings for their clients; however, Sonia was not included in this program. Petawabano said the decision reflected a belief by the Cree Health Board that they could act above the law in health-related matters within Chisasibi.

Petawabano emphasized that Sonia was made to feel like an outsider and that there was a communication breakdown with the Cree Health Board. He highlighted that Sonia had slipped into depression due to unfulfilled promises.

At press time of writing this article, Petawabano said that they had been promised an apartment but were still waiting.

The complaint listed several issues, including neglect, violation of human rights, and what  Petawabano perceived as Cree prejudice against his daughter, despite her status as a member of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi. 

The Cree Health Board has yet to release an official statement in response to the complaint.

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