Inuvialuit Elder whose stroke went untreated for six hours has died says niece

Inuvialuit Elder Hugh Papik, 68, has died.

(Inuvialuit Elder Hugh Papik, 68, died after suffering a stroke Aug., 3. His niece says workers at his seniors home in Aklavik believed he was drunk)

Iman Kassam
APTN National News
An Inuvialuit Elder who, according to his niece was left brain dead after support workers at his senior’s home mistook his stroke for drunkenness.

Hugh Papik, 68, suffered a stroke Aug., 3 at his seniors home in Aklavik, NWT.

His niece, Maggie Papik, posted the news on facebook early Monday evening.

Earlier, she told APTN that she received a phone call from a support worker at the home telling her that her uncle was drunk and she needed to come and take care of him.

Papik said she rushed to the home to find her uncle lying in his own urine, screaming “I’m not drunk, I’m not drunk.”

She said she knew right away that he had a stroke and directed the staff to call for an ambulance. Papik says the support workers were still convinced he was drunk.

She took him to the Aklavik Health Centre where Papik said the nurses also assumed he was drunk.

As a result, she said he went untreated for six hours.

“We just sat there, they never did a physical,” said Papik.

She said it wasn’t until a phone call to a doctor in Inuvik, that they decided to medevac him to a larger health centre.

There he received a physical and blood work, but without the necessary machinery, he was medevaced again to Yellowknife for a CT scan.

“That’s when they found out his right side of his brain is swelling in three places,” Papik said. “Swelling so bad it’s pushing on the left side of his brain, and they told me that he’s not going to make it.”

Now, she’s looking for answers.

“Just because Native people like the occasional drink, it doesn’t mean they’re alcoholics and drunks,” Papik said.

In past 24-hours she has received phone calls from people across the NWT, sharing similar stories on how elders have been mistreated within the healthcare system.

“People are too afraid to speak up against the medical system, but I can do it! These elders need somebody to stand up for them. Who’s going to do it? There’s lots of scared people,” she said.

She says she is not going to give up.  One demand she will be making is for proper training for senior home workers and community nurses to be able to distinguish between a stroke and drunkenness.

Papik contacted a local MLA, who then informed the health minister of what happened.

The Department of Health has not responded to APTN’s request for comment.

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1 thought on “Inuvialuit Elder whose stroke went untreated for six hours has died says niece

  1. This is sad to assume someone is under the influence when other ways could be handled, like test for alcohol or drug consumption or use. In late July my daughter became very Ill. Little did we know she had a cancerous tumor and cyst on her brain. The first nurse we met at the hospital wasn’t taking us serious even though my active daughter was now slumped in a wheel chair and passing out on me. So I started yelling that she needed help and something was wrong because she had no feeling on her left side and she has slurred speech and couldn’t function. For 8 hours that nurse delayed my daughter access to the doctor while she would go from the bed to the floor curled up vomiting and vomiting. Once the doctor finally came to see us we went from Hull to Montreal real quick for immediate medical attention and an emergency brain surgery performed a week later. We’re back and forth now between Gatineau and Montreal. The swelling on her brain caused her to loose half her vision. We pray that it comes back. They should use Breathalyzers and take blood work if they believe anyone is under the influence of anything before denying medical treatments. We’re not done with this hospital yet as my priority is ensuring she’s taken care of once she gains her strength before starting CHEMO she will obtain a lawyer.

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