Leo Manson Sr. has bone cancer. He was admitted to Nanaimo General Hospital in May because his nose was bleeding, and it wouldn’t stop. But instead of getting help, he got roughed up by hospital staff.
His wife, Maxine, was with him at the hospital for almost 24 hours. But she needed rest. And after she left, things went south.
He reportedly was sitting at the edge of his bed. He kept standing up and sitting down to try to catch his breath. He couldn’t breathe properly, and he was confused from all the blood loss.
For some reason that the hospital has not explained, staff forcefully restrained him. They strapped him to his bed so he couldn’t move.
Because of his cancer, this left him in “tremendous pain.”
Maxine described the incident to Melissa Renwick of Ha-Shilth-Sa.
“They threw him against the wall [and] bent his wrists back; they were really roughing him around.”
Manson’s arms, stomach, and back were covered in dark bruises after the incident.
On May 25, Maxine filed a complaint against the hospital through the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).
Island Health has responded to the claim.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact of this experience on the patient and their family. We have connected with this patient’s family to listen and learn from their experience, and these conversations are ongoing.”
Maxine says her husband is a “very humble” and “quiet” man.
“Always working for the people at home—no matter what situation they’re in,” she said. “He’ll do his best to accommodate anybody and everybody.”
She feels his race as an Indigenous man was a factor in the treatment he received.
“I don’t ever want to see another native person be treated like that,” she said. “We’re just people too—we’re humans. We just want to be treated with respect. This never should have happened in a hospital when someone is so vulnerable.”
Island Health acknowledged that Manson did not receive culturally safe care.
They are talking with leadership from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation to make sure their response “goes beyond words and includes meaningful actions.”
The province is aware that Indigenous folks often face racism in the healthcare system. The province’s 2020 report, called In Plain Sight, included stories from thousands of Indigenous people who faced racism when trying to get care.
Stories shared with the FNHA quality care and safety office show an “urgent need to address racism and discrimination in our health care system,” said the health authority.
“Many Indigenous individuals who report their experiences accessing health care tell us about the poor treatment they receive,” FNHA said. “Although every story that we hear is different, there are common themes, including challenges with quality care and treatment, personnel, discriminations and Indigenous-specific racism.”
Island Health has had mandatory cultural safety and humility training for all staff, nurse practitioners, physicians and midwives in Island Health emergency departments since August 2020.
But that training doesn’t extend to security staff.
Currently, there is one Indigenous liaison nurse employed at Nanaimo General Hospital. They have plans to hire one more.
It’s true that healthcare workers are under incredible strain right now. Nurses, doctors, and hospital staff are overworked. Even still, this type of action is unacceptable.
This incident is another crack in a crumbling healthcare system that desperately needs help. Hospitals need more staff with cultural safety training and more cultural liaisons.
These improvements would go a long way toward getting better care for Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks alike.