Nunavik woman raises safety concerns over transportation to Puvirnituq hospital

Christina Anowak says hospital offered van service previously, but switched to pickup truck

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said when transportation is necessary for medical reasons to centres like Inuulitsivik in Puvirnituq, it is arranged by a liaison nurse and covered by the board. (File photo)

By Meral Jamal

An Umiujaq woman is raising concerns over what she says is a lack of safe transportation to the Inuulitsivik Health Centre in Puvirnituq.

Christina Anowak, who said she is a frequent visitor to the centre, said the hospital initially provided van service for patients from other communities who fly in to Puvirnituq for health appointments.

But in the past two years, Anowak said, Inuulitsivik switched from picking up and dropping off patients at the airport in a van to using a pickup truck.

While she travels there regularly for checkups for lung infections due to her history of smoking, the lack of safe van access has her reconsidering her decision to seek care at the centre. She said she had to sit in the bed of the pickup truck, in bad weather and without a seatbelt.

“The way we have to be outside on the truck and how unhealthy it is — what if someone hits us and we’re behind on the truck and there are pregnant and elderly people?” she said.

Anowak was in Puvirnituq most recently on Nov. 8. In addition to being unsafe, she said, the current truck service is also unreliable because one pickup truck is responsible for taking all passengers travelling to the hospital.

That wasn’t the case two years ago when, she said, the centre employed multiple vans to transport Inuit seeking help at Inuulitsivik.

“There’s one pickup truck that we have to wait for going all over Puvirnituq,” Anowak said.

“It’s ridiculous how they’re saying that it’s still healthy for us to go travel there with no vehicle.”

Asked whether a pickup truck is being used to transport patients, Ariane Bedard, a communications officer for the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, said “the size of the fleet and types of vehicles may vary.”

She added that transportation for medical reasons is arranged by a liaison nurse and the cost is covered by the board.

In small communities, health centres like Inuulitsivik are often within walking distance of a user’s home and most users access the facilities by their own means.

“Land transportation service is available within a community to support (the health centre) or hospital users who require it,” Bedard said.

“The size of the fleet and the type of vehicles may vary depending on availability and challenges to operate and do vehicle maintenance in Nunavik.

“Therefore, the most suitable solution will be offered depending on the user’s needs and the resources available at the time of the request.”

For Anowak, the hospital currently providing only truck access for visitors like her remains problematic.

She said it is forcing her to reconsider what health problems she will travel to the centre for, and she may ultimately choose to delay appointments until next summer when weather conditions and the transportation service might be better.

“Most times, I cancel my trips. If it’s really something really serious and I have to go, then I’ll go,” Anowak said.

“If it’s only for an X-ray or something else, I won’t. I just won’t, knowing that they don’t have everything that Inuit need.”


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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Mr. Josi Nappatuk on

    My name is Josi Nappatuk I’m the Quality Service & Complaints Commissioner for the Inuulitsivik Health Center for more than 20 years now.
    The right thing for Christina Anowak to do is that she should have made a complaint to me about her safety concerns, before she wrote a letter to Nunatsiaq News. That way this issue can be dealt with through the proper channels.
    All of the Hudson Coast Users’ of Inuulitsivik can get in touch with me on my toll free number: 1-888-988-2669.

    • Posted by Christina Anowak on

      Jusi you asked me to call you and you hung up on me
      I guess you want to get sued
      What if something happens to our loved ones? What if someone accidentally hit the truck what if the truck swerved off and people behind the truck gets flown away? What are you going to say about it?
      I guess risking us is okay by you

    • Posted by Complaining on

      I have a question: since the lady didn’t make a complaint to the commission, but made it aware to the news, and by doing, it made the complaint officer aware of the situation, does that make it a complaint at the end of the day. Or is she left out and shunt because she contacted the news instead of the commissioner?

  2. Posted by Concerning remark Mr Josi Nappatuk. on

    Mr Josi Nappatuk, your remarks are concerning. In Canada , Quebec , and Puvirnituq included, it’s illegal and unsafe to have passengers ride in the bed of a pickup. Refer to section 3 of highway safety, but there may be other violation involved as well. The lady that is raising that concern , as she was subject to that treatment doesn’t need to only direct her concern to you, but it’s also a concern to law enforcement and motor registration.

  3. Posted by Complaining about on

    This is not a complaint commissioner issue as much as it is administrative issue at the hospital. It’s doesn’t sound like a slip of the action just a one time or a continuous slip , rather it looks like an acceptable service providing by the hospital without much consideration to safety needs of clients. I’m sure letting the commissioner know about the rides in the box of trucks doesn’t do any harm, but it’s seems like a deeper issue that appears ok by the hospital.

  4. Posted by Sleigh rides and truck rides on

    Remember when we would have our kids ride to school on the komatik? That was a good days. Today however with the traffic we have in the communities, on a komatik is not longer safe, and riding in the back bed of a truck is not safe. There’s regulations today about that behaviour. I’ve even seen daycare kids and school outings with the truck loaded with kids, hanging out the sides.

  5. Posted by Janimarik on

    Welcome to the north!

    • Posted by Janimarik on

      We just got a foot of snow during the night and a passenger van probably get stuck before F-150…

      • Posted by Loader guys on

        Yes many are aware of the reality, but let’s go beyond that and use our human intuition and overcome. You know your settled for the status quo doesn’t do anything to progress our struggles towards solution. Where’s the loaders? Where’s the plows, are we not yet available to that modern day convenience or are we not part of it all ? Last time I was in POV, I seen plows out and about. It’s seems to me north and south are in this together to just accept the crappiest condition, using the Mother Nature to help their neglect.

      • Posted by Truck waiting on

        What about the next time you go to Montreal, and get a taxi , or maybe ulivik and a pick up truck come by to get you? And not only that, it’s a snowy day. You see there’s no reason to use the snow to justify a pick up over a van. It makes sense, only if we are stuck in a way of thinking that puts the days of dealing with the elements without equipment. You know 1960 and 1970s. Oh, yes I would use a pick up truck in the snow roads before a van, but it’s not the usual in this day, Nunavik or south. You give the patient a choice: go by van, warm and comfortable and get stuck in this small community , or go by truck, risk falling out and get sicker. Like get there but need more medical care.

  6. Posted by We surrender on

    There’s no reason why patients have to endure a pickup truck ride in the box, f-150 or not, snow or not. Hey , why not use the skidoo and komatik instead? If that’s the way you think.Some people are destined to keep people in a struggle. What makes Puvirnituq or any other community in Nunavik have the lesser of services in todays modern , financial availability society? I would use a pick up f-150 in an emergency for patients, but it’s not acceptable to just use it as by the story of the lady who endured the trip. It seems like it was a usual service rather then a stuck in the snow ride. The north receives the lesser of services, because somebody doesn’t see beyond the snow, not that see the snow itself. We can do better , this is unacceptable.

  7. Posted by What about liability? on

    I would be concerned also for liability. If a person was injured in a truck box. It seems to me that the defence used to justify using a truck to ferry people is of the Good Samaritan using what’s available to the best of the conditions at hand. But that could probably stand up in a law suit in the past, and could even stand up today, if it’s the only means of getting a patient to treatment. But it will not stand up very well in a law suit, if the reason to use a truck instead of a proper passenger van is traced to poor management or neglect.

  8. Posted by Useless complaints on

    You want to know how that woman feels, and others too: complaining through the channels we have in Nunavik is perceived as useless. That’s how too many people feel about letting their story be told. Useless outcomes. Being able to tell your story through a newspaper is at least letting others know the situation you experienced, and who knows support and public awareness might achieve something beyond uselessness.

  9. Posted by Christina Anowak on

    Why does everyone have to suffer because of this news?
    It shows that they dont want to change for the better making others suffer because of me
    No place to stay,no transportation they have to look for a place to stay
    Why do they have to suffer because of me? Its not their fault and you are risking people with their lives now
    Just tried making things better but their making it difficult because i stood up

  10. Posted by Harvey T on

    It’s unacceptable for Innulitsivik to use a F150 for patient transport, especially with our brutal winters. Elders, infants, expecting mothers all in the pickup. Pathetic. NRBHSS you too, what a pathetic answer. You better start providing real answers because those investigators are on to you, and so are Nunavumiut. You better have a van on the next sealift because Christina ain’t having it no more.

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