Bilingual service is a must
The Editor, I recently drove a friend to the hospital in Alexandria as she felt she needed urgent medical help. I personally would not have chosen that institution as I had a very unpleasant experience there, in 2015. But Alexandria is closer by car than Hawkesbury and my friend had sought assistance there previously.
We entered by the emergency area using one of the hospital's wheelchairs. At the reception counter, she produced her OHIP card and nodded in agreement as the receptionist read off information from the computer screen. We were told to wait near a set of doors for the triage nurse.
When the doors opened, I wheeled my friend into a small room. By that time she was almost fainting from pain. The nurse asked some medical questions. My friend answered the ones she understood and asked the triage nurse to communicate with her in French but was told that the nurse could not speak that language.
If one goes into any business establishment in Alexandria, restaurant, hardware, auto mechanic garage, grocery store, LCBO, etc., not only does one overhear customers speaking French but also business employees. I don't know the exact language demographic for Alexandria but I suspect that there is a sizeable francophone population.
How can a hospital employ a triage nurse who cannot function in a language other than English? I am originally from Montreal and put up with narrow-minded language decrees for most of my life living in La Belle Province. How refreshing it was to cross the border from Quebec into Ontario and see bilingual road signs. How refreshing it is to go to the Hawkesbury Hospital where the vast majority of staff is francophone yet are at least functionally but usually fluently able to converse in French and English.
The triage nurse whom my friend had to deal with and the nurse's employer most likely do not understand the economic impact of a unilingual employee. Each time that an area resident visits the Hawkesbury Hospital, purchases might be made in Hawkesbury establishments afterwards as well as in Vankleek Hill on the way back home. Connect the dots. Alexandria businesses lose potential sales from clients forced to go elsewhere looking to be treated in a dignified manner. Jerry Boroff, Dalkeith