[lg policy] Canada: Inuktitut, French-speaking patients receive inferior care at Iqaluit hospital: report

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu May 12 11:11:22 EDT 2016


Inuktitut, French-speaking patients receive inferior care at Iqaluit
hospital: report Office of the Nunavut Languages Commissioner recommends
language policy, trainingSARAH ROGERS
[image: Sandra Inutiq, the Nunavut languages commissioner, during a break
in a committee hearing at the legislature this past November. Her offices's
final report into the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit found numerous
breaches of language rights held by Inuktitut and French speakers and makes
14 recommendations to fix the situation. (FILE PHOTO)]
Sandra Inutiq, the Nunavut languages commissioner, during a break in a
committee hearing at the legislature this past November. Her offices's
final report into the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit found numerous
breaches of language rights held by Inuktitut and French speakers and makes
14 recommendations to fix the situation. (FILE PHOTO)

A new report by the Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut says
Inuktitut and French-speaking patients at Iqaluit’s Qikiqtani General
Hospital face language barriers that could be putting their health at risk.

Between 2000 and 2011, the languages commissioner’s office received six
language-related complaints regarding access to health care at the
hospital, jobs or a travel escort. Three came from Inuit patients and
another three from francophones.

That spurred an investigation by the office
<http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674complaints_from_public_spark_nunavut_hospital_language_inquiry/>,
which looked at the availability of French and Inuktitut services at the
Qikiqtani General Hospital between March 2012 and March 2013.

The report, completed last October but only released May 10, found no known
language policy or plan in place at the hospital leaving the vast majority
of services available in English only — to the detriment of Nunavut’s other
official language speakers.

In one of the complaints the language commissioner’s office looked into, an
elderly Inuk man with breathing difficulties sought treatment at the
hospital.

“The patient met with a doctor and, because the conversation was held in
English, he didn’t understand some of the questions,” the report detailed.

“He asked the doctor to repeat and the doctor subsequently became irritated
and berated the patient. When the patient asked him why he was upset, the
patient said the doctor answered: ‘I can’t understand you, I will send you
someone else,’ and he left, leaving the patient alone with his breathing
problems.”

In another case, the report describes the experience of a French-speaking
couple expecting a baby. The couple did most of their consultations at the
hospital in English, although they had trouble understanding some medical
terms.

“During birth, the mother was told in English that she would have to have a
C-section delivery,” the report said.

“She did not understand the English term C-section (short for Caesarean)
and what was going to transpire. Thirty minutes later, she was in the
operating room for the procedure. As her husband was not allowed to be
present, he was unable to help her understand what was happening. The
patient said she was in shock, confused and very vulnerable.”

Those are just a few examples of problems faced by Inuktitut and
French-speaking patients at the Qikiqtani General Hospital, a regional
hospital that serves a population of more than 18,000 across the Baffin
region.

But Nunavut’s languages commissioner, Sandra Inutiq, said that needs to
change, and Qikiqtani General Hospital must offer a quality of care equal
to what it offers its English-speaking patients.

“Inuit and French language communities must be offered and receive health
care in the official language of their choice, in order to clearly explain
their pain, understand professionals’ questions and the diagnosis, follow
prescribed medications and properly follow recommended treatment,” Inutiq
said in a May 10 release.

Among 14 recommendations issued in the offices report: The Qikiqtani
General Hospital should develop a language plan, with directives, and make
employees aware of patients’ language rights.

Another recommendation suggests that Nunavut’s health department establish
standards for interpretation, to ensure translation is available to
patients at all times.

The report found that the hospital employs six Inuktitut-English clerk
interpreters, and no French-English interpreters — but more often, members
of the public are asked to help interpret.

In one case, a staff members interviewed in the report described another
patient being called on to translate when no interpreters were available.

“At times, there is nobody in this building that speaks Inuktitut,” said
another staff member. “We don’t function well when we don’t have someone.
This year, it has been very bad, at the point we only had one interpreter.”

In response to the office’s recommendations, Nunavut’s department of health
committed to develop a language plan, work to increase the number of
bilingual staff at the hospital and to enroll employees in a medical
terminology course through Nunavut Arctic College.

You can read the full report, and the GN’s response below.

  Final report on language rights at Qikiqtani Regional Hospital
<https://www.scribd.com/doc/312257461/Final-report-on-language-rights-at-Qikiqtani-Regional-Hospital>
by NunatsiaqNews <https://www.scribd.com/user/27774961/NunatsiaqNews>

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674inuktitut_french-speaking_patients_receive_inferior_care_at_iqaluit_ho/
<https://www.scribd.com/user/27774961/NunatsiaqNews>


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