Demanding Probe of Medical Care


OHSWEKEN – An investigation into medical care received by Indians at the Lady Willingdon Hospital here is being sought by the elected council of the Six Nations Indians.

Written complaints, which were read at Thursday night’s council meeting, concerning doctors at the hospital, spurred the council to action. Members will meet with John A. Charlton, MP for Brant-Haldimand, on Saturday.

Council members will demand that Dr. Charlton take the written complaints to the Department of National Health and Welfare in Ottawa and ask for an immediate investigation.

“We’ve heard verbal complaints about the hospital for years,” Chief Councillor George VanEvery said, “but this is the first time we’ve ever received written complaints. I feel it’s time for action.”

An attempt was made to have the complaints about the hospital’s three doctors – Dr. Tom Chiang, hospital supervisor, Dr. Ludwig Upenicks and Dr. Michael Dobrinoff – tabled until hospital authorities could be present. The motion was defeated.

Mr. VanEvery said he had asked hospital officials to attend the meeting.

“I received a letter saying Dr. Chiang had a previous engagement but would be pleased to meet with us at a later date at the hospital,” Mr. VanEvery said. “I then called M.C. Haw, assistant hospital administrator, and he refused to attend this meeting.

“They won’t even come and meet with us here. I’ll never go down there for a meeting.”

Councillor Fred Hill said it would be useless to attend a meeting at the hospital.

“You won’t get any place down there,” he said. “If you want action you have to go to the members of Parliament.”

Mr. Hill said a thorough investigation should be conducted.

“They treated me for flu when I had typhoid fever,” he said. “They insisted I had flu but when I didn’t get better I went to a Brantford doctor and he said I had typhoid fever and slapped me into hospital.”

Mrs. George Jamieson, a woman councillor, suggested a check be made to find out what qualifications the doctors hold.

Hugh Smith, welfare administrator on the reserve, said he thought his baby girl might have died had he followed instructions given his wife by a reserve doctor. Mr. Smith said his wife took the child to a doctor last Saturday and the doctor told her the baby had a congested chest cold. The reserve doctor suggested a treatment and told Mrs. Smith to return with the child in three days.

“I wasn’t satisfied,” Mr. Smith said. “I called a doctor in Brantford and he said my little girl was suffering from bronchial pneumonia. She’s been in Brantford General Hospital since Saturday.”

Three letters read to council followed a similar line.

Herman Styres wrote that a reservation doctor told him a cut in his daughter’s leg wasn’t serious. The leg swelled considerably, he said, but the doctor insisted there was nothing to worry about.

A Brantford doctor treated the girl for blood poisoning.

Mrs. Verna Jamieson said officials at Lady Willingdon Hospital told her that her daughter was suffering from a congested throat. It turned out the little girl had tubercular meningitis. She has been confined to the Hamilton Sanatorium since last October, the mother stated.

Mrs. Rodger Smith wrote: “I watched my infant song fail before my eyes.” She said one of the reserve hospital doctors insisted the boy was not seriously ill.

After two months she took the baby to a Brantford physician, who diagnosed the illness as tetany, a disease which creates spasms which weaken the body.