Family hopes former Cree grand chief's long stay in Montreal ER hallway spurs change

MONTREAL — The family of a Cree elder who spent four days in a Montreal hospital hallway say they hope that sharing his experience might spur change for the treatment of patients in Quebec emergency rooms.

Matthew Mukash was transported to Montreal General Hospital from his home in the northern Quebec village of Whapmagoostui on Jan. 7 experiencing weight loss and mobility problems, but he spent most of his time on a bed in an ER hallway.

Mukash, 72, a former grand chief of the Grand Council of Crees in Quebec, received treatment but remained in the hallway after being admitted.

His experience comes as the emergency room network across the province has been overwhelmed in recent weeks, a situation that is expected to persist for much of the winter.

His son, Pakesso Mukash, says he hopes his father’s experience is a wake−up call for better treatment for all Quebec patients, including those from Cree and Inuit communities who travel great lengths and deal with language and cultural barriers while accessing care.

According to the Index Santé website, emergency departments across the province were averaging 133 per cent capacity on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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