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Why one doctor is calling for more Indigenous supports in Sask. hospitals

Regina General Hospital (File photo) Regina General Hospital (File photo)
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The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has First Nations and Metis Health Services available directly in Saskatchewan’s major cities, but Saskatchewan doctors hope to see access expanded.

Dr. John Dosman, a family doctor based out of Saskatoon, brought up the topic at the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s (SMA) recent convention during a question and answer session with provincial ministers.

He was inspired by his involvement in an Indigenous ceremony following the birth of a child at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in December.

“It was just such a beautiful birth experience, a beautiful way for a baby to come into this world,” Dosman said.

He added it was moving to see five generations in the same room.

“Great great kookum, great kookum, kookum, mom, then the baby,” Dosman said.

It’s one example of the Indigenous Cultural Supports available in Saskatchewan hospitals.

"It's such a positive, well needed thing and I wish it could be everywhere, not just in hospitals,” said Kylee Lajoure-Kennedy, Manager of First Nations and Metis Health with the SHA. “We do stuff as simple as end of life care, we support family through that process, right up to the positive thing of babies being born and name giving ceremonies."

According to Lajoure-Kennedy, having the spaces available and accessible has to come in combination with having healthcare staff who are willing to learn.

“We're lucky, in our hospitals here. A lot of the physicians and doctors are open to learning those ways, and to meeting families where they're at,” Lajoure-Kennedy said. “A lot of our families do like to incorporate that western medicine with the traditional medicine. That's important for our people."

Currently, through the SHA, services are directly available at hospitals in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.

During the SMA convention, other physicians in the room were generally supportive of the call to expand services further to ensure they’re available for patients across the province.

Saskatchewan’s Minister of Health, Everett Hindley, was receptive to the idea.

“We're always building towards how do we make improvements in healthcare, and as part of the budget cycle or not how do we look at the potential for expanding those types of services so that's great feedback for us ministers to have,” Hindley said.

"You talk about building rapport, building trust, making patients and families feel comfortable, and it's all about enhancing patient compliance, satisfaction and making them feel comfortable going through the medical system which can be tough at times,” Lajoure-Kennedy said.

During her visit to Saskatchewan in April, Governor General Mary Simon called the supports available at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital an example of true reconciliation. Dosman agrees.

“That's what it felt like to me, and I learned more about culture, and it just makes me a better physician, I think,” he said.

Patients can request a consult from their nursing staff or doctor, or ask for supports directly where available.

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