ICI WE PARLE JUST FRANCAIS - PATIENT'S SON VERBALLY ASSAULTED AT VERDUN HOSPITAL FOR IMPERFECTION OF HIS FRENCH
A West Island man claims he was verbally assaulted at the Verdun Hospital, chastised by a nurse for the quality of French he was speaking.
It's not the first time the Verdun Hospital has found itself embroiled in a language controversy.
Shahrokh Hoghooghi's 90-year-old father was admitted to the hospital last week with a blood clot in his lung. His father is a retired physician from Iran and Hoghooghi translates for him.
On Sunday morning he said a nurse came in to the room and asked in French whether she could remove a chair.
Hoghooghi replied in French that that would be fine.
"Immediately she said it, oh, tu ne parles pas bien en francais, hein?" he said. "I said,excuse moi?"
He said she told him, again, that she didn't feel he spoke correctly in French.
"That just triggered it, because I don't need this. I'm not sure if my father's going to make it. I don't need a language issue debate next to my father's bed."
A short time later he asked her whether she spoke any English. According to Hoghooghi, she told him she doesn't need to because in Quebec everyone speaks French.
"I said, 'I need to know the results. I need to know what's going on. This is my right to know,'" he said, adding that he then told the nurse he'd make a complaint to the administration unless he got better service. At that point, he said another nurse got involved.
"He almost attacked me, but he did not touch me, and he says, 'I heard the whole conversation. She's my colleague. We speak French here and that's the end of that. If you have any problem, you speak to me,'" said Hoghooghi.
He complained to the assistant head nurse who returned with him to his father's room.
"She said, 'Is it true that you said his French is not good enough?' and she just put her head down," said Hoghooghi, who is now trying to get his father transferred to another hospital.
It's not the first time language has been an issue at this hospital. In January of 2014 a young couple was also berated over language when Jabari Radway asked a nurse for service in English for his girlfriend.
"He just completely flipped out said, 'This is Quebec and if she's not happy she could get the 'F' out,'" said Radway.
Patients' rights advocate Paul Brunet said someone in the hospital administration needs a wake-up call.
"You should be able to get adequate services when you need hospital attention, medical attention, which is the case in Verdun, and we're hearing somewhat a couple of times already from Verdun Hospital," he said.
The hospital would not comment on the case saying only that it provides services in English when asked.
Hoghooghi said there should be a basic level of respect.
"We are trying to speak your language. We are trying to adapt. We just need a bit of help. Don't insult us," he said.
In a statement from the Quebec Health and Social Services, it said the Verdun Hospital is a bilingual establishment for the emergency and some other services.
"This implies that communication may be given in English, and there is a reasonable effort to satisfy the patients' needs," the statement read.
"In this specific situation, without giving details, there seems to be an dissatisfaction about the fact that the first health professional whom the patient's relative spoke to was not bilingual. The institution is responsible to offer services in English in a reasonable matter, but it would be discriminatory to dismiss an employee (in this case, a "préposé aux bénéficiaires") because he does not speak sufficient English.
"The institution's obligation is to try to find a person to help an English-speaking patient, even if it's not immediately. We have been assured that this was done, but the management met with the patient's relative to explain this and to make sure that he is satisfied in the end."