The federally run hospital in Norway House, Man., will be replaced, with the federal government committing to $100-million funding over five years. (Brett Purdy/CBC) The federal government has promised to spend $100 million on a new hospital in a remote Manitoba First Nation dogged by switched-at-birth mix-ups and accusations of inadequate health care.
Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott visited Norway House Cree Nation on Friday to commit to building the new hospital. The funding will be set aside over the next five years.
The Norway House Cree Nation Centre of Excellence will replace the existing Norway House Indian Hospital. It will combine traditional Indigenous knowledge with western medicine to deliver holistic care to roughly 8,000 people in the community, as well as surrounding areas, officials said.
The federal government intends to eventually turn over the reins of the hospital to the community, officials said Friday. The facility would become the largest health-care centre in Manitoba history under First Nations control.
"Today is a historic day for our community," said Norway House Chief Larson Anderson.
"This new state-of-the-art facility will not only address the health-care needs of our community, but will also create education, training and employment opportunities for our people." Norway House resident Leon Swanson weeps at a press conference in Winnipeg in 2016, where it was revealed that he was one of four men switched at birth in 1975 when their mothers gave birth at Norway House Indian Hospital. (John Woods/Canadian Press) The state of Norway House’s health-care system has been scrutinized since the shocking discovery in 2015 that two Indigenous men born at the hospital were switched at birth more than 40 years ago and each was raised by the biological mother of the other.
The next summer, DNA tests revealed a similar mix-up involving two other men born at the hospital in the same year.
Two of the four men recently reached a financial settlement with the federal government . Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Eric Robinson, a former Manitoba cabinet minister who acted as a liaison for the men, told The Canadian Press last month that the federally run hospital has historically mistreated Indigenous people.
"Indian people, as we were known then … received second-rate treatment," Robinson said. Improving health outcomes
Dr. Courtney Campbell Leary, a Norway House member and lecturer at the University of Manitoba’s department of family medicine, envisions better health care for her community in the future.
The development of a comprehensive health centre is the culmination of 30 years of work, she said.
"This is a health centre that will be built by Indigenous people, run by Indigenous people, in our territory and using our traditional language to serve our community and teach future health-care providers. When we speak of improving health outcomes of Indigenous Peoples of Canada, Norway House will be at the forefront of that change."
The new facility will have a 12-bed inpatient unit, an emergency department, diagnostic imaging, a birthing unit, a dialysis unit and a surgical suite.
There also will be a sweat lodge, Indigenous language programming and staff education, and a spiritual-based care philosophy.
The hospital will be guided by Jordan’s Principle, a Parliament-endorsed principle that dictates all Indigenous children should have access to health care equitable to the care given to other Canadian children, regardless of where they live.The principle is named for Jordan River Anderson, a Norway House boy who spent his entire life in a Winnipeg hospital while federal and provincial governments bickered over who should pay the bill for specialized home-based care for him. He died from a rare neuromuscular disorder in 2005, when he was five.The new hospital will have a […]
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