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History of Health Care

Our Roots

chief moostoos.jpg

Health care in this area began long before Settlers arrived.  Indigenous Healers used plants, prayer and ceremony to heal people. 

Moostoos was a famous Medicine Man who was also a Headman and  Chief of the Sucker Creek Indian Reserve.  His name meant Buffalo.  He was born in 1850 on the western edge of Lesser Slave Lake.  He died in Sucker Creek in 1918 during an influenza outbreak.

 Medicine Men carried a container, called a Medicine Bag or Bundle, they varied in size and were usually made from hide.  Inside this bundle would be various items used for healing; roots, herbs, grasses, bird and animal parts, minerals and ritual objects.  The Medicine Bundle was considered a very precious possession that represented a person's spiritual life. The Bundle and it's contents were considered holy by the Tribe.  Medicine Bundles were often passed down to the next generation.

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As the first Settlers started to colonize the area, the sick or injured were most often cared for in their home, by a family member or by local healers, who were mostly women.  Adele Bliss, Mrs. LeSage and Lyla McCue nursed the sick and delivered many a baby..  People relied on home-made remedies using plants and is some case ingredients that were poisonous.  It was not uncommon to find ingredients like turpentine, castor oil and kerosene oil made into medicines that were used externally and taken internally.  Expecting mothers were taken care of by midwifes, many of which were Indigenous women.

Archaeological Dig
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Sister's Of Providence Hospital - Grouard

As settlers started to arrive in this area, hospitals started to be established.  It is a well-known fact that Settlers also brught infectious diseases with them.  Sicknesses like samll pos and masles were devasting to many Indigenous Trribes.  

The Sister's Of Providence opened the first hospital in Grouard in 1908.  it was a two-storey building with three Doctors.  Dr. Boulanger, Gaucher and Donald, six Sisters and three lay workers.

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When the railway bypassed Grouard in 1914, health services for the area were established in High Prairie.  Dr. MacINTYRE set up his practice in High Prairie in the fall of 1919.  He provided health care to this area until his death in 1940.
The first hospital in High Prairie was built in 1920 and operated by Nurse Mary Bone. It was in this small seven bed building that Dr. MacINTYRE saw his patients.  
In 1933 Dr. Paulson and his wife moved to High Prairie and built a four-bed ward and surgery.  it was called the Paulson Hospital.  The Paulson's left in 1936 and once again the health care for this area was supervised by the Sister's of Providence.  They purchased the Paulson hospital in October 1937, for the sum of $4,500.

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