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No clarity on Iglulik nurse's fate

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 14, 2012

The territorial government's response to a petition tabled in the legislative assembly, asking for the replacement of Iglulik's nurse-in-charge, failed to shed any light on the situation.

Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk had tabled the petition at the legislative assembly on March 7. It contained the signatures of 188 Iglulik residents requesting the community's nurse-in-charge be replaced.

A counter-petition to keep the nurse in charge had also circulated at the time.

The territorial government responded with three sentences, acknowledging the petition and the resident's concerns.

After recapping the situation in a sentence, its response was:"The Department of Health and Social Services acknowledges the petition and comments made on behalf of a number of residents from the community of Iglulik. "We appreciate hearing concerns and suggestions from all community members related to the delivery of health and social services."

Tapardjuk reacted by saying "it doesn't say anything."

When asked whether the nurse's employment in the community will be affected, the office of the health minister stated "the Iglulik nurse petition is an operations matter and we consider it inappropriate to comment on personnel matters in the media."

A lack of communication in the community likely contributed to a petition circulating demanding the nurse-in-charge step down this past winter, according to the Iglulik mayor.

Nicolas Arnatsiaq made the comment after the territorial government responded to a petition

Arnatsiaq said he has not personally read the government's response to the petition but is aware one was issued.

"The (hamlet) council should have been informed about it when the petition was going around," said Arnatsiaq, reiterating the petition went to the MLAs rather than hamlet council.

A lack of communication within the community contributes to such conflicts, he said.

"That usually results in this kind of, if I could use the word, petty goings on. It all boils down to no communications in the community," said Arnatsiaq. "The various agencies not keeping each other informed as to what they are doing. That's one of the factors that causes these kinds of, I would say, unnecessary, even the word conflict."

That sentiment is shared by Tapardjuk, who said the community and the health centre are out of touch with each other.

"The health centre is working in isolation, without the participation of the community and this has to stop," he said. "We have to work together to deal with health issues and complaints."

Tapardjuk said he asked for a review of the patient/client complaints procedures during the winter sitting of the legislative assembly because the current process doesn't work.

He said in the legislature on March 1, appealing through the regional director of operations has "never been successful and it's basically just a paper trail." He added no room exists for second opinions as there is only one health centre in the community. Tapardjuk's motion passed so the territorial health minister has to report on the review's findings no later than the first day of the fall sitting of the legislative assembly on Oct. 23.

"Right at the moment, there is nothing in place, that in my opinion, satisfies the communities when they have a problem with a nurse or the health centre," he said. "There is a mechanism in place but it's a joke. In the current process, it doesn't work. "

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