Among the English Communities Committee’s (ECC) achievements, they have helped identify service improvements subsequently undertaken by the administration of the CSSS in response to the recommendations. The ECC’s input to the CSSS has always been met with the greatest of respect and willingness to cooperate and accommodate, subject to the availability of resources, both human and budgetary. Since the provincial government essentially controls that, there is not much room to manoeuvre, but good will and openness has brought many successes. Services in English are now part of the strategic plan and the Access Program, prepared by CRASLA (Comité regional d’accès aux services en langue anglaise), with one of our members sitting on it, which has expanded the number and range of services to be provided in English.
Language training of the reception personnel began in 2005-2006 with the same federal funds that allowed a short-term contract worker to be hired to set up our committee. This money was funnelled through the provincial umbrella group for the provision of services to the English-speaking community, CHSSN (Community Health and Social Services Network), and coordinated with McGill University. This program allowed a number of the people who answer the phones, register patients and staff the appointment centre to follow a comprehensive English-language course designed to deal with their work situation. We are pleased to note that when registering for services in the hospital, staff members proactively ask if the user would prefer to be addressed in English.
Another major move was the introduction of the completely bilingual automatic telephone system, a huge undertaking involving a lot of technical underpinning before the long hours of recording all those messages could begin. This English section is now available on the CSSS des Sommets website, including a complete translation of the Healthcare and Services section. Resources don’t allow for the translation of all of the content of the French site, but there is much useful information available. Many documents have also been translated, including, among others, a checklist, provided by the triage nurse in the emergency department, which explains the priority levels in the treatment queue, and the preparation booklets for many procedures including colonoscopy and gastroscopy examinations.
Less visible, but equally important, was the sensitizing of the administration to not only language but also to cultural differences. This led to, among other things, the introduction of modified kosher meals being provided for those who require them in the hospital.
The ECC has also participated actively in other committees and associations dealing with health and social service delivery to help sensitize them to the needs of our communities, which has led to the translation of many documents and the provision of information, training and other events created for the English-speaking population.
Thanks to the initiative of the 4 Korners Family Resource Center in Deux Montagnes, and the support of the CSSS des Sommets, a coordinator, Kim Nymark, was hired to work out of a satellite office in Ste. Agathe. It is her job to connect with all the providers of health and social services in the central Laurentians to promote the interests of the English communities, and to be available to the members of those communities to help them navigate the system. She can be reached at 1-888-974-3940, leave a message at 819-324-4000 ext. 4330, or email email@example.com.
All this has grown out of the good relations between our committee, representing you, and the CSSS des Sommets, which is there to serve all of us, no matter what our language, culture, race or creed. Part of this strategy is a monthly column in Main Street describing different aspects of the health and social service network and the private and voluntary organizations that support the public institutions. Sometimes the articles are about changes or services at the hospital, others times about services provided by other organizations outside the CSSS that serve the community. But it is always about things that help you live in English while fully participating in the greater community that surrounds us. An archive of all the published columns can be found here.