How Patients and Family Members Help Infuse Pride into The Ottawa Hospital’s DNA

The Ottawa Hospital views patients and their loved ones as essential partners in care, especially when it comes to creating safer and more welcoming spaces.

Created two years ago, The Ottawa Hospital’s Rainbow Patient and Family Advisory Committee (Rainbow PFAC) has given a strong voice to the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 2SLGBTQ+ is an acronym that stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer, most representative of other gender identities. This community has always faced severe systemic discrimination in the healthcare system, and interactions with healthcare providers can still be difficult.

Rainbow PFAC advisors work with key hospital decision makers to improve care for this vulnerable patient population, drawing on their lived experiences as patients and family members.

Tim Hutchinson
Rainbow PFAC Co-Chair Tim Hutchinson is a longtime community activist.

“Events and occasions of pride are important, but we don’t just fly the flag for a week or two and that’s it for the year,” says Rainbow PFAC Co-Chair Tim Hutchinson. “The Rainbow PFAC helps us infuse pride into the DNA of the hospital.”

The Rainbow PFAC has launched a number of initiatives to achieve this. Here are some examples of their hard work in action.

Hospital-wide programming

Over the years, The Ottawa Hospital has launched a range of programs to improve the quality of care for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. These include nursing education sessions on gender diversity and trans health, as well as workshops where patients learn storytelling skills so they can improve communication with their care providers.

The success of these educational programs and workshops was in fact the origin of our Rainbow PFAC.

“With the popularity of these programs, it became clear that the unique experience of 2SLGBTQ+ patients needed to be better integrated into the care provided at The Ottawa Hospital,” says Tim. “In response to this need, the idea of ​​a separate PFAC group was proposed.”

Create a safe space in our emergency department

Buttons with pronouns
Many members of our Admissions and Emergency Registration team wear these buttons with their pronouns.

For many patients, their healthcare journey begins in the emergency department. This is why the Rainbow PFAC works closely with our emergency admissions and registration team.

Rainbow PFAC co-designed a gender diversity training module for emergency admissions and registration staff. Titled “Respectful Conversations with Gender Diverse Patients,” the module explains how to ask for and document a patient’s gender identity and pronouns.

As standard procedure, staff now ask patients for their gender identity, pronouns and chosen name during registration. Patients can also update their own gender identity and chosen name in myChart, our online patient portal. And when you visit the hospital, you’ll see many of our ER admissions and registration staff wearing buttons with their own pronouns.

Posters explaining the importance of pronouns
You’ll find these posters all over our admissions and emergency registration areas.

Staff training module on respecting gender diversity

Recently, the PFAC co-designed a more in-depth training module on gender diversity which has just been rolled out to all hospital staff. This new course offers even more guidance to our staff on how to create a safer space for our trans and non-binary patients.

The visibility and success of this course, along with Rainbow PFAC’s other initiatives, has sparked the interest of many hospital departments who are now looking for guidance and further training to improve patient care.

“Over the past two years, we’ve built up the appetite and the interest at the hospital,” says Tim. “It shows that we have generated a desire to really think about the delivery of care differently. It was very gratifying for me.

Preparing for the future

“I’m really proud that we’ve accomplished a lot in two years, especially in times of a pandemic,” says Tim. “But there is still a lot of work to do.”

Rainbow PFAC has several projects on the horizon, such as expanding much-needed mental health services, improving discharge planning for 2SLGBTQ+ seniors, and working with Cancer PFAC to expand screenings. cancers that are more prevalent in the queer community.

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