Wednesday, November 02, 2005

« Le Programme provincial de suivi des porteurs d'implants cochléaires - bien sûr, c'est bon!»

Way back on October 17, Kate asked a question in response to my comment that with the opening of the CI Follow-Up Services Program in Bathurst, New Brunswick, French CI recipients would finally be able to get post-op service in French:

ronnie, if francophone New Brunswick residents can only get CI service in English, does that compromise their ability to work with a language therapist during the time when the ear and brain are being re-trained to accept signals from the CI?

Do francophone CI recipients generally go to Quebec for help?

It's an excellent question, so good in fact that I tried to track down some accurate information to pass along to her and all of you. The answers to her two questions are, in short, "I'm not sure" and "No". But in more detail, here's what I was able to find out with some phone calls to the Chaleur Regional Hospital (which will be the home of the new program) and the NB Department of Health and Wellness:

The Province of New Brunswick (NB) has an agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia (NS) which sees potential CI recipients living in NB access assessment (through the NS Hearing and Speech Centre), surgery (through the NS Department of Health and the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax), and follow-up therapy and programming once again through the Speech Centre. These facilities in NS provide the services and bill the province of NB for our care. With the opening of the CI Followup Program in Bathurst, patients will be able to access the post-op part of services here in New Brunswick. Since New Brunswick is officially bilingual - and Bathurst is in the heart of French New Brunswick - that means, of course, that the staff will be bilingual and the post-op CI services they offer will be fully available in French.

The province doesn't have such a contract with Quebec to provide CI assessment or programming. So while nobody could guarantee me without doing much digging through their files that in a specific case a francophone client hadn't gone to Quebec for therapy in Quebec in the past, nobody could think of such a case and it would be the exception and not the rule.

As to whether having to receive post-op therapy in English would be a handicap to a francophone, that's a very interesting question. Obviously to figure out that you are hearing speech, and that it sounds like a human voice, you don't need to know what language you are hearing, and the programming focuses on sound more than content. I haven't seen "Helen", my audiologist in NS, since Kate asked the question, but I'm curious to know if they use interpreters to work with patients who speak only French (rare but by no means unheard of in New Brunswick, particularly on the Acadian Peninsula). The only time I can imagine language being a really significant handicap would be in testing progress; they put you in a sound booth and play sentences on a CD, and you repeat the sentenced back. Based on how close you are to accurate, the audiologist can chart how well you're doing. Even if the CD questions were in French, unless the audiologist was fluent in French, she couldn't properly assess how strong your comprehension was.

Some of this, happily, is a bit of a moot point now that the CI Follow-up Program has opened in Bathurst, NB, in the heart of francophone New Brunswick. That's the good news; the bad news is that the funding for the Bathurst program is worryingly small ($67,000 startup and $60,000 per year after). That's why we need to continue to get the word out to ensure it's properly funded and supported.



Blogger arfenarf said...

Hey, thanks for the research! - Kate

3:12 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hey, astute questions deserve good answers :)


8:42 p.m.  

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