Leaping Forward with Erie Shores HealthCare

Over the past few months, Workforce WindsorEssex has noticed an increase in employers prioritizing multilingualism in their job postings. Workforce WindsorEssex Research Associate Marissa Bumanlag interviewed local employers on the topic of hiring those who can speak multiple languages and what kind of benefits they bring to the organization.

Workforce WindsorEssex had the chance to interview Arms Bumanlag, the Director of Communications and Public Relations at Erie Shores HealthCare. Bumanlag spoke about one of the newest initiatives that Erie Shores HealthCare is rolling out this year which is the Migrant Worker Health Aid Card. Bumanlag notes that the importance of representing and connecting the community for accessible and equitable health care  services is what Erie Shores HealthCare is all about.

Bumanlag began his communications pathway with Erie Shores HealthCare this past year and is a strong advocate for employing multi-language abilities in the workplace  through eliminating language and cultural barriers.

How It All Started

When talking to Bumanlag, he mentioned that the Migrant Worker Health Aid Card started off as an idea that was locally inspired. In 2018, the Ontario Vegetable Growers Association began a community engagement initiative to bring together leaders and planners across all sectors that work with or provide services to migrant workers. As a  result of these larger engagement sessions, various working groups were established,  including a table of leaders from local health care agencies who wish to better serve migrant workers. Erie Shores HealthCare is well connected to this table, and share current needs for better health system planning and coordination, as well as patient  stories that trigger more immediate solutions. One such example is the Migrant  Worker Health Aid Card, that was conceptualized as a result of a migrant worker who  came into Erie Shores HealthCare in critical condition. It took more than five hours for  the hospital to contact the migrant worker’s family back home.

As the Clinical Director of Erie Shores HealthCare, Michele Reiser introduced the idea of having the Migrant Worker Health Aid Card in order to address barriers in language  and culture. The information on the card is accessible immediately to medical staff and the client at hand. This information, which would be translated on the card, include  allergies, medical history, and family contact information back home for the migrant  worker.

Accessible Healthcare for All

Bumanlag notes that about 8,000-10,000 migrant workers come to Essex county to work in the agriculture and agri-food sectors. He said that making sure that these  international farm workers have timely access to medical care and to these cards are a crucial goal and component to making sure that healthcare is accessible for all at Erie  Shores HealthCare. As this initiative is first of its kind within Canada, Erie Shores  HealthCare hopes that this initiative will spread to areas such as the Niagara region as  there are a large number of migrant workers there as well. The card is one example of cross-sector collaborations that start to address the unique needs of migrant workers as community members, and the Migrant Worker Health Working Group will continue planning to focus specifically on cultural and linguistic needs, and to make stronger  connections among health care providers and partners.

Accessibility into Practice

Erie Shores staff met with the Mexican Consulate and was able to access translation  services for the Migrant Workers Health Fair held at St. Michael’s Parish in Leamington on Sunday, October 27, 2019. Reiser worked with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable  Growers, Orangeline Farms, and the Migrant Worker Community Program, resulting in  early success in engaging the migrant worker community. Erie Shores HealthCare also mentions that migrant workers have been receptive and open to the Migrant Health Aid  Card resource and they look forward to seeing how other healthcare providers can adopt this resource throughout the country.

Does your organization reduce language barriers in the workplace? Contact us for an interview: info@workforcewindsoressex.com.

To read more in our Multilingualism in the Workforce Blog Series, please click here.