A program is launched to equip migrant families in the health system

A program is launched to equip migrant families in the health system
A program is launched to equip migrant families in the health system

MONTREAL — A two-year pilot program has just been launched by the Montreal Children’s Hospital (Children) and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto to help migrant families navigate the health care system, particularly for young people living with chronic illness.

The program aims to provide information to families, but also equip them so that they can navigate the health system. The objective is to respond to the unmet needs of young people suffering from chronic illness.

The pilot project called the Intervention Program for Migrant Teenagers also aims to make families better aware of their rights.

Children estimates that the project will help approximately 200 to 300 migrant adolescents and their families over the next two years.

“A lot of our families when they come in, they don’t want to disrupt the system. They do not seek help when their children or themselves may need help,” said Dr. Patricia Li, pediatrician at Children’s.

She explained that migrant families often face barriers to accessing appropriate care such as language, culture, discrimination or lack of information.

“As a medical team, we try to support families, who are very resilient, but there is not enough structure and help at our disposal,” she notes.

“Being faced with a new health system is always a difficulty for our families. It is already difficult for those who are not new to Quebec or Canada to know how to register for a family doctor, how to access walk-in clinics so as not to go to the emergency room,” argues the pediatrician.

Going from adolescent to adult

Dr. Li indicated that many migrant adolescents with chronic illnesses arrive in Montreal when they have not seen doctors in months, their prescriptions have run out or they have not received preventive care that could avoid complications related to their illness.

“We have more wars, geopolitical instability, climate change, so often these families and young people are displaced from their country of origin due to these situations and they may have experienced a fairly traumatic journey which can cause unrest. mental health or perhaps during their migratory journey they did not have access to (appropriate) care,” she explained.

An important aspect of the program is supporting adolescents transitioning from pediatric to adult care. “There’s a big hole in the system for these kids and we’re really trying to fill those gaps in care and the patient navigator program will serve as a safety net so our families don’t fall through the cracks,” she said. said Dr. Li.

A young immigrant who moves from pediatric care to adult care will find themselves on the waiting list for a family doctor, like everyone else. But the situation of young people suffering from a chronic illness concerns Dr. Li. The Children’s Multicultural Clinic takes care of putting these young sick patients in contact with specialist doctors. “Often a year or two later, they’re not always connected with a specialist,” she says.

Dr. Li, who is also a researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, emphasizes that young people suffering from a chronic illness need more attentive medical monitoring and they often have to take medication. Finding themselves without a family doctor makes them more vulnerable.

The pilot program is funded by TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children’s Hospital Foundations. Collaborative work is done with families and adolescents to develop interventions. Dr. Li hopes to share her knowledge with health partners and expand the program.

The Canadian Press’ health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

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