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Pierre Hébert Par Pierre Hébert

Mercredi, 3 juin 2015

A passport to being understood

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The English-speaking community of the Haut-Saint-François, particularly seniors, who are more likely to be unilingual, now have a tool to help them express themselves in French when they have health problems. It’s the Health Passport.

The little 28-page booklet was launched during a recent press conference attended by representatives of the English-speaking community. It is a kind of dictionary comprised of key words, phrases, services and organizations in the health sector. The Centre d’action bénévole du Haut-Saint-François (CAB, Volunteer Action Centre) produced the Passport and printed 300 copies, thanks to support from Townshippers’ Association and the Community Health & Services Network. The tool aims to help English-speaking persons make themselves understood in French when they have health problems, whether it is to get information from Info-Santé, during a hospital stay or a medical visit, or in case of emergency.

The booklet helps users to prepare themselves to clearly explain their state of health and respond to questions they are asked. One section identifies lifestyle habits such as smoking or others. Another offers a lexicon translating terms relating to time, different parts of the body and orientations such as left, right, and so on. Two pages show how to quantify the degree and types of pain, as well as associated factors, in order to give a clear description. Add to that a multitude of expressions relating to various themes such as headaches, chest pain, strokes, the flu or a cold, muscle and joint pain, abdominal problems, and other symptoms. The final section focuses on terms needed during a hospital stay.

Rachel Garber coordinated the project. She organized a focus group and received input from members of the English-speaking community to help identify the concerns and needs of users. Thérèse Thibodeau, an English speaker and a nurse at the CSSS du Haut-Saint-François, also made a great contribution to the preparation of the Passport. Edith McBurney and Nancy Spalding, present at the launch, said they were happy for the initiative. Very involved in their milieu, they intend to promote the new tool. “It will help our seniors,” they said in unison.

Earlier versions of the booklet already existed. The CAB revised and improved it to respond better to the needs in our region, explained France Lebrun, executive director of the organization. The first edition was produced by the Megantic English-speaking Community Development Corporation in Thetford Mines, and the second by Townshippers’ Association for the Memphremagog area.

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