From mobile vaccination clinics to door-to-door information campaigns in multiple languages, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal has delivered a range of public-health services to vulnerable and marginalized people during the pandemic that have ensured progress in fighting COVID-19.
It’s been done thanks to strong and effective partnerships with an array of individuals and groups, in the community and at other levels.
“Those on the front lines have the best understanding of the needs of the public,” says Stephanie Dupont, CIUSSS Community Organizer responsible for the Peter McGill district.
“Our role is to listen to and accompany the relevant organization in its outreach efforts to its healthcare users, in order to provide them with the information they need and to offer support that will help keep people safe, and make testing and vaccines available.”
For example, personnel responsible for mobile testing and vaccination have been deployed to hotspots, as determined by careful analysis of epidemiological data.
Outbreaks have been particularly common in some areas of West-Central Montreal, where isolation is difficult for some symptomatic individuals. Another issue is the high concentration of low-income workers, who are frequently denied paid sick leave and are afraid of losing their jobs.
“We have people in our area who don’t know how to take advantage of services or who are reluctant to seek assistance because of their precarious immigration status,” says Valérie Lahaie, who coordinates Public Health and Partnership for the CIUSSS.
“It’s imperative that we make access available to everyone in a sensitive and respectful manner. Until they’re eligible for vaccination, they can take steps to protect themselves and their families from getting infected.”
Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, President and CEO of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, says communication and contact with the public have been essential in the CIUSSS’s efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible and to ensure the wide distribution of reliable advice about the virus.
“The Philanthropic Foundations Canada and the Foundation of Greater Montreal have been instrumental in helping to meet this urgent need,” Dr. Rosenberg says. “They are playing key roles in providing healthcare users with dependable information, while encouraging them to take the necessary steps to safeguard their own health and that of their loved ones.”
Dr. Rosenberg also notes that community organizers deserve credit for their work in serving “one of the most—if not the most—diverse urban areas in Canada, which presents a daunting challenge.
“Each community-driven project is a direct response to the most pressing needs of residents in a particular area or neighbourhood. As a result, the effectiveness of these projects is heightened and their value is considerably greater.
“Our partners and community organizers make our city stronger by seeing to it that no one who needs to be vaccinated or who requires other COVID-19-related assistance is in danger of falling through the cracks.”
The success of the public-health campaign rests on the participation of many groups and individuals. These include community outreach workers and organizations, borough-based COVID-19 crisis teams and neighborhood committees, and municipal personnel, as well as the CIUSSS’s community organizers, professionals and managers. Their actions are essential, not only in protecting the people they serve, but in helping society as a whole to beat the pandemic.
Financial support of the Foundation of Greater Montreal and Philanthropic Foundations Canada allows for the development of projects that take into account unique COVID-19-related needs. It also covers the cost of the salaries of coordinators and outreach workers, personal protective equipment, and the translation and printing of multilingual brochures and posters.
Addressing the specific needs of various areas in the CIUSSS, distinct action plans have been developed for Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Parc Extension, Peter McGill, Outremont and the Milton Park area of the Plateau-Mont-Royal. These plans were created collaboratively by the CIUSSS, the boroughs and community organizations.
Because of initiatives undertaken in response to the pandemic, new relationships have been forged between the CIUSSS with partners across West-Central Montreal.
“Through these COVID-19 action plans, I believe we’ve developed stronger connections to the people and groups we work with,” says Jennifer Auchinleck, one of the CIUSSS Community Organizers responsible for NDG.
“We’re discovering new ways to work collaboratively to respond to important local needs. This has been, and will continue to be, very beneficial from a public health perspective.”