A medical patient from Baker Lake, Nunavut, says she was forced to sleep in a storage room at the medical boarding home while she received treatment at the Iqaluit hospital.
Elizabeth Itkilik was in Iqaluit for medical treatment. When patients from other Nunavut communities come to Iqaluit for treatment, they are put up in the Tammaativvik medical boarding home across the street from the Qikiqtani General Hospital.
Itkilik said when the staff showed her to where she was supposed to stay, she was shocked.
“It’s like my heart sank to the bottom. I was very heartbroken and embarrassed,” said Itkilik.
The storage room was filled with supplies like bed frames and baby products. She said the door didn’t lock and there was no bathroom to use.
I was very disappointed by this whole thing.– Elizabeth Itkilik
Early one morning, Itkilik said an employee for the boarding home knocked on the door and woke Itkilik up while grabbing something from the storage room.
“I was very disappointed by this whole thing,” said Itkilik. Itkilik says she was in the storage room for one night before she was moved to the elders’ home and then to a hotel room at the Frobisher Inn.
Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak spoke last year in the legislature about overcrowding in the boarding home.
“Because of the overcrowding, the patients are sleeping in utility rooms, living rooms, and so on. Some are elders and it’s not something we would like to see,” he said at the time.
The Nunavut Department of Health tried to address the problem by paying and encouraging residents to have medical patients stay in their homes.
Health Department declines to comment
When she was told she had to stay in the storage room, Itkilik sent a photo to her daughter Alma Itkilik who posted it on social media. Several people commented on the post outraged or sharing their own horror stories from the boarding home.
CBC asked the Nunavut Department of Health to comment on Itkilik’s case but was told it doesn’t comment on individual cases.
The department said complaints from medical patients can be referred to the government’s Office of Patient Relations.
CBC also contacted the boarding home’s operator but did not hear back.