Culturally safe care

Recapping the CEO Grand Rounds in Aboriginal Health

Dr. Marcia Anderson DeCoteau speaks at this year’s CEO’s Grand Rounds.
Dr. Marcia Anderson DeCoteau speaks at this year’s CEO’s Grand Rounds.

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Friday, June 21, 2013

Dr. Marcia Anderson DeCoteau spoke from many perspectives during her talk at this year’s CEO Grand Rounds in Aboriginal Health. From being a patient, a doctor, and recipient of care, her experience with the health care system has been abundant and unfortunately themed with a lack of culturally safe care.

“In every role, the fact I am First Nations has had an impact,” she said. Anderson DeCoteau is the Head of the Section of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health - Department of Community Health Sciences with University of Manitoba.

She spoke to approximately 150 people at the June 18 event, which was held at University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne Campus and hosted by Aboriginal Health Programs and Winnipeg Health Region CEO, Arlene Wilgosh. Another 17 locations, spanning the province, tuned in via telehealth.

Anderson DeCoteau provided first-hand anecdotal accounts of lack of culturally safe care, including how she and her family had been mistreated to a point where care given and care environments were unsafe. She’s also experienced similar situations as an employee.

She lauded the work of midwifes and doulas, saying their techniques should be integrated into health care as a whole. “They take the time to get to know you,” she explains. “Their philosophy and approach are much more advanced and culturally safe.”

Anderson-DeCoteau’s powerful talk included sharing her Sacred Bundle – a bundle of items that represent who she is and what she holds close to her heart. “It’s for health and healing, but it’s also for the work I do.” She indicated that everyone has a bundle, whether physical or not, and that these gifts and tools need to be valued and respected, in order to help someone with their healing journey. “We need to stop teaching people to be providers and patients, and start teaching them to be humans and relatives.”

During opening remarks, Wilgosh urged people to consider what culturally safe care means. “Much of our time has been spent with focus on diagnosis and treatment but health care is more than that. Health care is also about environments and relationships,” she said. “Recognizing that our attitudes, interactions and processes impact health outcomes, is how we can go beyond providing health care, to providing culturally safe health care.”

Anderson DeCoteau implored audience members to not stand by when witnessing mistreatment and culturally unsafe care. “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution of culturally safe care.”

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Traditional Territories Acknowledgement
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
Click here to read more about the WRHA's efforts towards reconciliation

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