CHUS Users’ Committee continues to improve hospital services for Townshippers

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The CHUS Users’ Committee at Fleurimont (CHUS) and l’Hôtel Dieu is reaching out to Sherbrooke residents and Townshippers that use the hospitals’ services to remind them that the committee is there to listen and defend their rights.
Josée Rourke, the president of the CHUS Users’ Committee for the two hospitals, said their presence has been limited due to restrictions brought on by the pandemic. Normally, the committee can be found inside the hospitals emergency and waiting rooms.
“We’re definitely receiving less calls and we still had the issue that a lot of people don’t know that users’ committees exist in spite of a lot of publicity in the past and a lot of trying to physically be there, so we wanted to remind people about the rights of users’,” she said.
The last few months have been particularly difficult for the committee, according to Rourke, because the team is finding it more and more challenging to stay motivated. She had some friends call her personally to help with hospital services, but she wants to expand on that.
Rourke believes the committee has the ear of managers in various departments throughout the hospitals. The committee wants to reassure the public that people are still listening to their opinions, good and bad, regarding the hospitals’ services.
One area the users’ committee has been working on is English services. Rourke said she witnessed a lot of improvements in offerings for people who struggle with the French language. Several people told her that they were addressed in English without asking first.
“There is a right for people to receive services in English and while the efforts are made and there has been improvement, I think there’s still a lot of room to improve in that area,” said Rourke, one of three English-speaking committee members.
She added that there is an access committee for English-speakers, which is fighting to respect language rights. And this goes beyond the anglophone community, she continued, this has an impact on the immigrant population that might not comprehend the French language.
The committee does more than help patients, Rourke explained, they take everyone’s opinions into consideration; from people visiting family members, to people coming in to make an appointment. The term ‘users’ is strange in the English language, she said, but it makes sense.
“We can’t really say patients because it’s more than patients, it’s all the people who have a reason to come to the hospital whether it’s just for a check up or to see a specialist, it covers everyone who would use the services of our hospitals,” Rourke said.
Another situation the committee has been monitoring is the parking lot layout. People are anxious when they’re coming in, she explained, so, in collaboration with the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, they created clear payment instructions and made English signs more visible.
It’s a partnership, according to Rourke, and the hospitals’ administration team is always receptive to their recommendations and ideas. The committee was nearing a return to hosting meetings in the hospitals, but that was derailed with Sherbrooke entering code orange.
While it’s hard to interact with people this days, Rourke wants users to share their experiences in the two hospitals throughout the pandemic. If there is a problem, or something positive to share, the committee can help people navigate through the proper channels.
“We’re still there, still working and we wanted people to know they could still contact us through our resource person and either by email or phone we’d like to hear about their experiences during this time of pandemic, but also going forward,” said Rourke.
Residents can reach out the CHUS Users’ Committee by telephone at 819-829-3288 or toll free at 1-877-942-2383. People can also contact the committee via email at comitedesusagers.chus@ssss.gouv.qc.ca.

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