When we speak about those who receive health care and social services in CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, we mainly refer to “our users”, and then we sometimes add the phrase “and their families”. However, the needs of family members should not be an afterthought, nor should they be taken lightly.
Often, relatives—spouse, parents, siblings, children—feel intense distress over the illness, disability or crisis that has affected a loved one. In some instances, they even shoulder the burden of becoming caregivers, and while this is a responsibility they accept willingly and lovingly, it is a role that can be physically demanding and emotionally draining.
For this reason, no matter how much we strive to make patients, residents and clients the focal point of our efforts, their families must also be present in our minds.
A perfect example is the touching ceremony that took place in mid-October at the Jewish General Hospital in memory of the little ones who, over the past year, died in the womb, during childbirth or after they were born. A white jasmine lilac sapling was planted and a bench was dedicated as a place of reflection and commemoration near the main entrance of Pavilion H on Côte-des-Neiges Road.
The impetus for this event, the first of its kind at the hospital, came from Social Worker Louna Kadoch and Nurse Nadine Fava, Co-Chairs of the Perinatal Loss Committee, which includes representatives from the JGH, CLSC Metro and Maison bleue in Park Extension, as well as Maison Naissance. Their goal was to let parents know that members of our staff genuinely care about them and are deeply touched by the loss they have suffered.
What I find so heartening is that this ceremony was a spontaneous expression of compassion by staff. It also embodied the spirit of our CIUSSS’s Respect Campaign, which goes beyond simple courtesy to a deeper recognition of the dignity, feelings and, in some cases, the barely concealed pain of all those—including family members—who look to us in times of need.
We owe them this respect not just as service providers, but as human beings.
Lawrence Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
President and CEO