Displaying items by tag: health - New Canadian Media
New Canadian Media
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 11:48

Addressing Newcomer Maternity Health Concerns

by Belén Febres-Cordero (@BelenFebres) in Vancouver, British Columbia

Raquel Velásquez’s objective on her visit to a clinic was to have a prenatal check-up. Instead, the medical practitioner asked her if she was sure she wanted to keep her baby.

Raquel was also encouraged to reconsider her decision at two other health facilities she attended afterwards. “They thought I was too young to be a mother, but they knew nothing about my culture or religion,” she explains.

Navigating a health system where patients’ backgrounds are not fully considered is one of the obstacles that women face when expecting a child abroad.

Irene Santos, who was a pediatrician for 29 years in Mexico, explains that further difficulties may include not knowing the language, the culture, or how the system operates. “Not being a permanent resident and lacking networks of support are also common challenges,” she adds.

Ángela Hiraldo remembers yearning to return to the Dominican Republic when first learning about her pregnancy: “I didn’t have access to the health system and I didn’t know how it worked. When you come to another country, there are so many things you need to do but there is no one to show you the way.”

“With the CCHB, I feel that my time is valued because she listens to me and understands what I need; we can talk in my own language, and we explain everything to the doctor together.” - Ángela Hiraldo, immigrant mother

Voces Maternas

To help others going through similar situations, Raquel and her team started Voces Maternas (Maternal Voices).

Voces Maternas is one of the programs of Umbrella Multicultural Health Co-op, a member-driven, not-for-profit organization that offers medical services to immigrants facing barriers to accessing health care in British Columbia. Financially sustained by the Vancouver Foundation, Voces Maternas delivers free pre- and post-natal support to immigrant women, their children and partners.  

The Cross-Cultural Health Broker (CCHB) is one of its crucial components. CCHBs are bi-cultural and bilingual health workers with medical degrees, and extensive knowledge of both the community with whom they work and the Canadian health system.

Irene, Voces Maternas’ CCHB, indicates that the goal is to become a bridge between the patient and the medical services in Canada by helping newcomers understand and navigate the health system, and by being an interpreter and translator – in both linguistic and cultural terms – between the patient and the doctor.

“With the CCHB, I feel that my time is valued because she listens to me and understands what I need; we can talk in my own language, and we explain everything to the doctor together,” Ángela says.

Moreover, the CCHB gives workshops that provide immigrant families with information about pregnancy, birth and post-partum so that they feel empowered to take decisions according to their own set of beliefs.

“We don’t try to impose ideologies, areas of interest, or methodologies. We talk about different options so that people can choose what works best for them,” Raquel explains. As a result, they provide a safe and non-judgemental meeting space for parents to connect and support each other.

“Sometimes people can’t access the services they’d like to because they learn about them when it’s too late. We assist them so that they can know their options and choose from them on time." - Raquel Velásquez, Voces Maternas

Resources for maternity health: an urgent need

Voces Maternas currently focuses on Latin American women, but it aims to include other communities in the future.

Other projects of Umbrella – such as the Umbrella Mobile Clinic, the Pediatric Health Outreach Program and the Many Faces of Diabetes Program – offer services in several languages and work with communities from different parts of the world.  

In an email to New Canadian Media, British Columbia’s Ministry of Health states that “we recognize newcomers may face challenges in accessing health care services, which is why we continue to introduce services aimed at this population,” some of which include the Bridge Clinic, the Global Family Care Clinic, the New Canadian Clinic, and the Newcomer Women’s Health Clinic.  

Similar services are available in other provinces. For example, the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-operative, which functions in Edmonton, Alberta, offers diverse programs where multicultural health brokers provide support to 22 cultural and linguistic communities. 

Both Raquel and Ángela recognize the urgent need to provide more information about the existing maternity health options in British Columbia.

“Sometimes people can’t access the services they’d like to because they learn about them when it’s too late. We assist them so that they can know their options and choose from them on time,” Raquel explains.

Immigrant health: a combined effort

Newcomers can also visit the WelcomeBC webpage to know more about B.C. health services, or the Government of Canada's Health page to learn about health services across Canada. For more support, they can access the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia or the Community Airport Newcomers Network.  

Improving immigrant health is a combined effort. According to the email from B.C.’s Ministry of Health, “though we strive to offer comprehensive services to new British Columbians, non-profit organizations providing further education and resources are certainly a valuable addition to the system of care.”

In addition, Umbrella highlights the need for people to actively look for information and get involved. Ángela is pleased she did: “I feel empowered thanks to Voces Maternas, not only because I know more, but also because of the bonds I created.”

Raquel adds that “if we surround ourselves with people that support us, we also feed the circle by empowering other mothers to enjoy their experience.” She believes in the proverb that says that raising a child takes a village, “and we want to be that village for immigrant parents living in Canada.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Health

by Selina Chignall

The results of the Canadian Medial Association’s report card on health care shows Canadians strongly believe in the need for a national strategy for seniors’ health.

According to the report, released today, 90 per cent of those polled said there needs to be a national strategy for seniors care — which should include support in home, hospice, hospital and long-term care facilities and with end of life care.

The survey also found that 67 per cent of Canadians believe the “federal government has an important role to play in developing a national seniors’ care strategy.”

More than 80 per cent of those polled say if the provincial and federal governments cannot agree to a national strategy, they believe the costs for providing care for the elderly will fall on younger members of the family.

“We will just not have enough money to care about anyone.”

With no additional funding on health care expenditures for seniors between 2000 and 2011, CMA President Dr. Chris Simpson said the health care system will become completely unable to care for seniors.

“We will just not have enough money to care about anyone.”

Provinces and feds need to work together

Access to quality seniors’ care is cause for concern as the average life expectancy in Canada is 81 years. And when the last of the baby boomer cohort reaches the age of 65, seniors could represent a quarter of the population.

Whoever wins this election, a majority of Canadians say they will need to respond to this demographic shift, and it will require cooperation among the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

“The fact that it’s a messy discussion and these are difficult issues simply can’t be an excuse for not cooperating with other levels of government … Canadians expect the feds and provinces to work on this,” Simpson said.

Despite jurisdictional limitations — as hospitals and doctors are provincial responsibilities — Simpson said the federal government could include health infrastructure in the Build Canada Fund and create tax credits for caregivers to stay at home.

“We want people to think about where the parties stand on health when they cast their ballot.”

Simpson says he was disappointed the issue of health care wasn’t raised in the first national leaders debate, and the lack of discussion about it during this campaign. Canadians should think critically about the parties platforms on health care when they go to vote.

“We want people to think about where the parties stand on health when they cast their ballot.”

Simpson points to New Brunswick, where 25 per cent of the hospital beds are filled with seniors waiting for placements in long-term care facilities. “That’s the future for the rest of the country whose aging population is following behind.”

Last week in British Columbia, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledged to invest an additional $190 million to expand the Employment Insurance compassionate-care benefit. He promised to extend the benefit to those taking care of seriously ill family members and greater flexibility to caregivers if they need to take time off work.

Currently, the benefit is only available to those who can prove their loved one is at risk of dying within six months. Because of the strict time frame to qualify for benefits, Trudeau said “too often, folks are forced to leave their jobs and drain their personal savings to provide essential care.”

His pledge to extend these benefits is a small step in addressing seniors care, which Simpson says “is not something you can fix overnight. It takes planning and good will … if we can’t even agree that we need a plan then we are in really big trouble.”


Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.

Published in Health
Friday, 24 July 2015 13:01

Antibiotics: Not as Safe as You Think

By Dr. George I. Traitses Antibiotics have been credited with saving thousands of lives, these days antibiotics are also in the news for not being as effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to two million Americans fall ill from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year and that at least 23,000 die from those infections. 

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Published in Health

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 By Jasminee Sahoye There is speculation that chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment can affect our wellbeing. A study is confirming that women whose…

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Published in Health
Thursday, 09 July 2015 09:01

Think About Brain Health Throughout Life

By Jasminee Sahoye In a surprising discovery, Munich brain researcher Ernst Peoppel found that a healthy brain just keeps getting better with age. He found that vocabulary, verbal memory and…

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The Caribbean Camera

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Published in Health
Friday, 26 June 2015 13:01

Three Reasons to Limit TV Time

By Dr. George I. Traitses Say what? You’re suggesting I back away from the boob tube and finding something else to do with my valuable time? These days, that’s an increasingly difficult mandate considering how many Americans have immediate access to a seemingly endless array of reality shows, video games, music, movies and essentially anything 

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Published in Health

Medical groups are appealing for public support ahead of a court case this fall that will attempt to reverse cuts to a federal health program...

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Published in Health

Antimicrobial-resistant infections or “superbugs” will kill more people than cancer worldwide by 2050, a recent report estimates, but Canada may be ill-prepared to deal with...

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Published in Health

by Wayne Kondro in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Canada’s health care system is an expensive under-performer because it is out of sync with both international trends in the delivery of care and with changing consumer demand, experts on health care reform told delegates to the National Health Leadership Forum Monday.

Not only does the system over-test and over-treat patients, it’s too “physician-centric” and more concerned with garnering higher salaries than it is with providing the sort of appropriate, quality care that consumers want, argued Dr. Anne Snowdon and Dr. Charles Alessi at a session of current global trends in health system innovation.

While systems around the world are creaking under increasing financial pressure, Canada is particularly vulnerable because of inertia, and will continue to slide down the ranks in any international measurements of systemic performance and health outcomes.

Snowdon and Alessi noted that while systems around the world are creaking under increasing financial pressure, Canada is particularly vulnerable because of inertia, and will continue to slide down the ranks in any international measurements of systemic performance and health outcomes, though it spent $215 billion (or 11 per cent of its gross domestic product) on health care in 2014, including $62.6 billion on hospitals, $34.5 billion on drugs and $31.4 billion on physicians.

Alessi told delegates that Sir Murray Brennan of the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute was bang on when he asserted that, “We over-diagnose. We over-investigate. We over-treat for minimal benefit, and just worse, we design reimbursement to maximize revenue. We also rarely ever define the expectations for patients.”

By comparison, in England, which spends roughly the same total amount to deliver health care to a population roughly twice the size of Canada’s, “The link between physician clinical behaviour and fiscal consequence for clinicians is embedded, leading to more ‘risk’ being managed rather than excluded,” the co-chair of the National Association of Primary Care in England and adjunct research professor at Western University’s Ivey School of Business added.

The system must become more “consumer driven” and understand that in the modern, digital world in which there are millions of health apps and patients are using social networks to “run their own clinical trials to see what works,” that Canadians no longer “presume that the health care provider is the expert.” - Anne Snowdon

“The big difference is that in England, we’ve been used to having primary care deliverers being responsible for population health for many years,” Alessi later said in an interview. “There’s two ways one can manage a condition. I can look at you and think about the conditions you could have and test you for everything. Or I could look at you and think, because we have such a longitudinal relationship which goes back many years and will continue for many years, in terms of the most likely things you could have, and actually be a little more sparing in the way that I manage your condition. There’s immediacy in delivery of care, when you exclude risk, where you have to do everything immediately and so you do a lot of things you don’t need to do.”

The consequences on a health care system are enormous, both in terms of overall cost as well as patient health, as patients in Canada are often provided treatments that could “do more harm than good,” Alessi added.

System Must Catch Up to the Times

Snowdon, chair of Western’s Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation, contended that Canada’s health care system is also burdened by a physician-centric approach to delivering care and swamped with waves of chronic care patients arriving in hospitals, and skyrocketing costs that threaten to spiral out of control because it focuses, “on the disease or diagnosis. It’s not about the person.”

The system must become more “consumer driven” and understand that in the modern, digital world in which there are millions of health apps and patients are using social networks to “run their own clinical trials to see what works,” that Canadians no longer “presume that the health care provider is the expert,” Snowdon said.

Canada will eventually “hit a fiscal cliff where we can’t afford not to [make major cuts in health care]. And then you’re going make snap decisions too quickly and probably go the wrong way. We’re going to end up debating what we no longer pay for. That’s not a good or achievable model. And it’s certainly not where other countries are going either.” - Anne Snowdon

Snowdon later said in an interview that, “Some people say that making the system less physician-centric is moving mountains. Some people say that it’s a revolution. My answer to that is that the consumers are already there. We’ve lost our connectivity with consumers because they’re in the on-line, mobile digital world mostly, and yet we as a system are by-and-large disconnected from that world.”

Unless changes are made within Canada’s health care system, Canada will eventually “hit a fiscal cliff where we can’t afford not to [make major cuts in health care]. And then you’re going make snap decisions too quickly and probably go the wrong way. We’re going to end up debating what we no longer pay for. That’s not a good or achievable model. And it’s certainly not where other countries are going either.”

Among needs within the system, Snowdon and Alessi argued, are: supply chain innovation, traceability from bench to bedside,” so that things like faulty equipment can be easily tracked and taken out of commission; developing portable electronic health records so that a patient’s health information is put in their own hands; finding national mechanisms to scale-up beneficial innovations; and providing greater transparency about the options that are available for treatment, so that consumers are more involved in determining appropriateness of care.

“We need to put the population in charge of defining value, because guess what, they will anyway,” Snowdon said.


Published in Partnership with iPolitics.

 

Published in Health

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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