Northern Conversations holds seventh and largest talk: Falling Through the Cracks

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The new Stanton Territorial Hospital plans to open the doors to emergency services on May 26 at 6 a.m. Brett McGarry / NNSL Photo
NNSL file photo
On Sept. 22, a grassroots advocacy group Northern Conversations will be facilitating a discussion about systemic problems in the NWT’s health care system.

As a part of an ongoing series of talks designed to spur important conversations about health, Northern Conversations, in partership with the NWT Wellness Society, is putting on another talk about the medical system in the NWT.

This is the seventh facilitated talk for the grassroots organization and the largest according to Michael Gannon, chair of Northern Conversations.

“This will be by far the biggest and most resource intensive talk yet,” he said.

During the all day event, a half dozen doctors, health care providers and former patients will be sharing their experiences and perspectives on the systematic challenges present in the NWT health care system.

“The three things we’re addressing is continuity of care, patient advocacy and controlling your health care information,” said Gannon.

The event will also feature a 30-minute film about Greg Price, a Calgary man who died from testicular cancer, considered a very treatable disease. However, difficulty navigating the health care system contributed to his untimely death.

According to Gannon, patient advocacy can be lacking in elders, people who do not trust institutionalized health care and those who do not have strong English skills.

“Everyone should be able to receive the same care as anyone else and it should be a high quality of care,” said Gannon. “You can be pretty good at patient advocacy but if you’re not, you can fall through the cracks pretty easily so that’s problematic.”

Properly dealing with your health care information will be discussed by Dr. Ewan Affleck, an expert medical archivist.

“There’s a Supreme Court of Canada case that has determined that we are the owners of our health care information,” said Gannon. “If we are the owners of our health care information, why is it that we can’t get to it very easily?”

The free talk is open to anyone including doctors, nurses, decision-makers within the GNWT, Indigenous community leaders and others.

“This isn’t intended to be a high level policy discussion, this is a conversation about these issues in the context of our medical care system,” said Gannon.

By the end of the day, Gannon said he hopes the general public is better informed.

“It’s a can of worms that we’re opening up,” said Gannon. “One afternoon is not going to solve larger systemic issues. It sure will point to some of them and allow a transparent discussion that includes the public.”

The talk will start at 11 a.m. at Mildred Hall School on Sept. 22.

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