Category Archives: Healthcare / Medical

Suite 104

The other day I went to yet another new specialist, this time an hour and a half’s drive from home. So three hours total travel time for the day. I don’t mind traveling to see specialists, I am willing to try anything at this point, and to travel anywhere my coverage allows. The total time for appointment, four hours: 3 hours drive time, 40 minute wait, for a 20 minute appointment. That’s half a day for one appointment. I once overheard reception at another medical facility tell a patient that they ‘wished they had time to read a magazine’, to a patient inquiring about the wait time to see the doctor. Yes how fortunate we are to lose a half-days work to be able to read 18 month old tabloid trash.

As usual, I google street-viewed the location prior to the visit, and determed it was it a medical facility adjacent to a hospital, so assumed the accessibility would be decent. Though as the visit would most likely involve medical waiting rooms and long corridors typical in such establishments, the walker was a must. As the office I was going to was Suite 104, I hoped that meant no stairs to carry the walker up.

Once at the facility I was lucky to find the final available spot in the parking lot, though not a disabled spot.  The lot was of the ‘take your ticket with you’ variety, where you pay at a machine prior to leaving and then have a 15-minute grace period to get your car out of the lot (for many people with disabilities, this time restriction can be difficult). The machine only accepts credit cards. This is not uncommon at hospitals and medical facilities, and even our local university will not accept cash at their manned parking lots, only debit or credit card. Most people on O.D.S.P. are unable to have credit cards, and some do not have debit cards or bank accounts. This all due, of course, to the disproportionate amount of people with disabilities who live below the poverty level, but that is another blog, for another day.

Upon arrival at the doctor’s office I was visiting, I registered with the staff-member manning the reception window, and received a form to fill out. Unfortunately, my penmanship has declined markedly due to my tremors. I wish they had this form available on their website to download prior to visiting. Being accustomed to such forms, I always have a list of medications with me, but had forgotten to print out the ‘medical records’ I have created for myself to assist when filling out these dreaded forms. Medications taken, doctors visited, medical diagnoses and conditions, family medical history, and list of on-going symptoms. When I remember these, I am often able to simply hand them back with the form not completed, but the information detailed and legible. So today, the agonizing form is my fault.

I arrive ten minutes early to the appointment, and wait 40 past my appointment time to see the doctor. I am lucky. The woman beside me has already waited more than an hour, and has a much worse experience. After patiently waiting an hour, this woman approaches the reception window to be told that they have been trying to reach the medical office upstairs to get her records sent down, but the line has been continually busy (sadly, this is also commonplace for medical offices , and we will touch more on this later). The woman quickly offers to go upstairs and get the records herself, a suggestion that meets with approval from the staff member. She is gone and back with the records within five minutes, and in to see the doctor in another twenty. About an hour and twenty-five minutes that could have taken five with a pro-active approach by the staff member. Most likely more than her lunch hour, or whatever time-off she had arranged with her employer.

The waiting room itself is large, with lots of reading material (read: germ spreaders), a television set to the twenty-four hour news update station and plenty of chairs, not even half of which were occupied at any time during our visit. Unfortunately, nobody had had the foresight to remove any of the chairs to accommodate people with walkers or wheelchairs, requiring anyone using one to be either in the aisle way or blocking access to reading materials. Simply removing a few chairs and leaving spaces in the waiting room to accommodate these assistive devices benefits everyone else using the space.

There were about six doctors sharing the waiting room, and during our wait, a door would open occasionally and someone would call the name of the next patient. “Sally Smith”, “Joe Jones”, “Mr. Miller”, etc. At one point during my wait, the door opened and the staff –member said “Can you bring Mr. Labelle in to the office please” to the person accompanying Mr. Miller, who happened to be seated in a wheelchair. I admit, I almost lost my s*it, but decided addressing the issue at that moment would only degrade Mr. Labelle’s dignity further. The staff member might as well have said “Please bring Mr. Object into the office”. YOU SPEAK TO THE PATIENT. You say, “Mr. Labelle please come in” the same as you have for every other patient. YOU SPEAK TO THE PATIENT. The person with Mr. Labelle will know to ‘bring’ Mr. Labelle in when you call Mr. Labelle’s name. I promise.

U of Guelph Session “An Accessibility Curriculum”

Our session at the 5th Annual University of Guelph’s The Accessibility Conference May 29, 2013

 ”An Accessibility Curriculum”

First, I would like to note that the objective of this session was merely to facilitate a discussion about including accessibility in the curriculum and to review some examples of existing accessibility curricula. We truly believe that an accessible society begins with strategic implementation of accessibility into curricula across all disciplines to create a future generation of accessibility minded individuals creating accessible products, services and spaces. Any discussion around this is beneficial, however, ideally  accessibility education should be standardized and delivered by qualified individuals and institutions.

Second, I would like to thank Sarah White for her invaluable contribution to the session providing her practical experience designing, implementing and instructing the accessibility program at Durham College.

An accessible educational curriculum that includes accessibility

Our Session @ The Accessibility Conference – Solutions for Inclusion, University of Guelph, May 28 & 29, 2013

Session Date: Wednesday, May 29, 201

Description: Making teaching accessible is as important as teaching accessibility. Re-framing the narrative beyond making the curriculum accessible, we explore the importance of including accessibility in the curriculum, analyzing opportunities and experiences of the Japanese and UK models that strategically implemented accessibility in a broad range of curriculum, thus creating a future generation of accessibility minded individuals. An accessible Ontario by 2025 includes educational curriculum that incorporate accessibility across all disciplines.

Objectives: Education has an important role to play in fostering the kind of change that will result in the immediate and long-term success of the A.O.D.A. An accessible society begins with strategic implementation of accessibility into curriculum across all disciplines to create a future generation of accessibility minded individuals creating accessible products, services and spaces. We will explore the opportunities and experiences of models that have strategically implemented accessibility and discuss items for inclusion.
The session will:

  • Analyze the opportunities and experiences of other educational models of accessibility curriculum implementation
  • Outline benefits and possibilities presented by the inclusion of accessibility awareness training;
  • Review current Canadian accessibility curriculum such as those being delivered through dedicated disability, healthcare, technological and design programs;
  • Discuss practical solutions for integrating accessibility into the curriculum and explore what a strategically addressed accessible curriculum might look like including who, what, when, where, and how.

Speaker Bio(s): With over a decade spent as a disabled consumer, patient, employee, accessibility advocate, business owner and consultant, first-hand experience with barriers to access and frustration with inaccessibility led Donna to found accessibility firm Roll a Mile and provides her a unique ability to advise on adaptation, accommodation and accessibility from a unique perspective. Or, in the words of her brother, “turns out the soapbox just needed a ramp”.

With a twenty year background as business and marketing advisor, both through her own company and the local Small Business Enterprise Centre, Donna has extensive and proven experience in the wholesale, retail, non-profit, financial, loyalty, online, service, manufacturing, tourism, economic development and public sectors. With a proven track record of developing strategic business and marketing strategy for any business model in any market segment, Donna works assisting businesses, organizations, and institutions implement and improve accessibility and dedicates herself to awareness and advocacy.

For More Information regarding The Accessibility Conference:

Open Letter to Healthcare Professionals

10 Things to Remember about Patients

1 We really don’t want to be here.

2 We didn’t fill out the requisition, report or record. If the doctor filled it out, we probably can’t read it either. If it isn’t to your liking, we aren’t responsible. We do not want to upset or annoy you, or make your job harder. You wield surgical instruments.

3 We are most likely partially clothed. Have a little compassion, we are vulnerable and our private parts are poking out.

4 Most of what you do would get you arrested anywhere else. Or at least cost you a dinner first.

5 We probably have either had nothing to eat or drink for days, or are loaded to the brim for your tests.

6 You know the terrifying alien-probe scene in horror movies, you are the terrifying alien

7 We can hear you talking about us.

8 We have probably waited hours, days, weeks and even months for this visit.

9 We really don’t want to be here.

10 We know you work hard. We know you save and change lives. We know the system is under-funded, under-staffed, under-supported, and under-appreciated. We know you are too. We also want an efficient, effective healthcare system. We are all on the same side, we just have our backsides exposed as well.

First post in our new blog series: The View from the Guerny

First, they came for the strollers and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t use a stroller….

On Tuesday last week, Global News’s Minna Rhee reported a story regarding the banning of strollers from certain spaces, in particular doctor’s offices, ‘War on Baby Strollers’ (

Within the medical building featured in the news story, several pediatricians’ offices within the building had a no stroller’s allowed policy. This resulted in stroller-lined hallways throughout the building. Dr. Aaron Lindzon, a pediatrician interviewed conceded it was, “basically, it’s a space issue”.  The story concludes with “the bottom line is, ask in advance, and don’t be surprised if the doctor asks you to leave the wheels behind, and points out that leaving the strollers in the hallway contravenes the Ontario Fire Code which requires they be clear of impediments.

But the policies of banning strollers concern me greatly, and should be considered an accessibility issue. The use of assistive devices should be permitted in all spaces, and strollers could technically be considered assistive devices. If my wheelchair is permitted, so should a stroller be. They are both mobility devices. And I know a few mothers with disabilities where in that circumstance; the stroller would become an assistive device for the caregiver. I suppose the caregivers of those babies-in-strollers could also technically be considered personal support workers. As well, a person in a wheelchair would not be able to access the stroller-lined hallway in the story, which is a huge issue, and not just in an emergency situation. The strollers themselves become barriers to access.

Awhile back there was a news item out of Ottawa where a bus driver on the public transit system required a woman, her baby, and stroller to disembark a bus in order to accommodate a passenger using a wheelchair. The bus company issued a statement to the effect that the driver had misinterpreted their accessibility policies and the bus line staff would receive more training on the policies.

The aim of the Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (A.O.D.A.) is for an accessible Ontario by 2025. Progressive implementation of the Act will result in more accessible physical spaces going forward and, hopefully one day, all spaces will be accessible. Benefits and opportunities for all are presented by accessibility, inclusion and diversity, and the unexpected benefit of accessibility on society as a whole is known as the ‘curb-cut phenomenon’. Named from the cuts in curbs originally for wheelchairs that benefited strollers, bicycles, delivery carts, and more. In fact, the typewriter, telephone, tape recorder and email were all developed by, or for, persons with disabilities, and have benefited everyone.

But for now, some common sense approaches could greatly benefit accessibility and strollers. For example, if you are a pediatrician, you should be aware that your patients come with apparatus and find office space accordingly. Medical buildings in particular should know that a large percentage of persons visiting the facility will be ill, have a disability or chronic condition, or use assistive devices. It is a medical facility.

So as an accessibility advocate, I am officially on the side of strollers. And there is, another reason that I think the banning of strollers should become an accessibility issue, if you take the case of the Ottawa bus incident, I do not want to see persons with disabilities demonized by being pitted against babies. Accessibility is not about preferred access it is about equal access.

It should be noted that I am not saying that a person in a wheelchair is in a similar circumstance to a baby in a stroller, certainly everyone has very different mobility options, I am only saying that in terms of accessibility and assistive devices, accommodation should be made for both. Accessibility for all, cradle to grave.

Seeing past the shell and through to the soul….

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

Originally by: Phyllis McCormack; Adapted by Dave Griffith