“They treated me like crap, and I know it was because I was Native”

published on April 9, 2017 in CBC Radio

A new report on the healthcare experiences of people living in Vancouver’s inner city concludes the health care system fails Indigenous people — particularly drug users.

Lead author Ashley Goodman says the majority of participants in the study shared experiences that were negative, and often lead people to delay care or disengage from care entirely.

Misdiagnosis was also common amongst study participants.

Goodman said one participant’s story stood out to her in particular – a man went to see his doctor suffering from awful pain on his right side. The doctor told him to go home and walk it off, without any medication to manage the pain. That night, the patient woke up with severe pain in his chest and later discovered he had a collapsed lung.

“That was a such a common experience of having symptoms trivialized and dismissed by healthcare practitioners,” says Goodman.

To Goodman, the experiences the study captured stem from the broader systemic racism that Indigenous people face which in her view are often rooted in stereotypes.

“A lot of it stems from a lack of education and we see that in our health care in terms of when you look at medical schools,” says Goodman, noting that Indigenous health is often an elective course within the curriculum, or as a lecture that concentrates only on the statistics on disease prevalence and health status.

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