Transcending Multiculturalism: MCH celebrate 25 years of transcultural healthcare

Press release
For immediate distribution 
Montreal October 11, 2011 – Imagine bringing a child to the emergency and not understanding the language or customs. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Sociocultural Consultation and Interpretation Services (SCIS) at The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), this has been made a little easier. This week, the SCIS are celebrating their 25-year milestone of providing cross-cultural health and interpretation services for families and clinicians of the MCH. A special colloquium, “Advancing access to health equity” will be held tomorrow to mark the event.
“We focus on the social and cultural aspect of patient care,” says Marie Serdynska, coordinator of the MCH SCIS. “For example, we are mindful of the economic and immigration status of the patients along with their cultural and religious backgrounds where they intersect with patient care.”
From humble beginnings
MCH colleagues unofficially began these services in 1984 and formalized them as a “Multicultural Program” in 1986. Over the years, the focus has evolved to reflect the changing patient populations and their needs. This evolution is now reflected in the program’s new name.
“Over time, the service has made a lot of headway,” says Ms. Serdynska. “From initially facilitating 150 interpretations a year, we now carry out over 7500. We have held conferences, diversity workshops and helped translate many patient instructions and hospital information posters.”
The SCIS has a bank of on-call interpreters who interpret in approximately 40 languages – the top requested include Chinese, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu.
A diverse program
The colloquium will be as diverse as the MCH population, including topics such as
  • Improving quality and achieving equity: Addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health care
  • Communication: Cultural aspects of caring for children with life-threatening illness
  • Heterosexism : A persisting barrier to access to quality health care
  • Navigating the tensions between prestige and access: Excellence, equity, and diversity in medical school admissions
  • Improving dialogue with aboriginal communities

“I congratulate the SCIS for their initiative and success,” says Dr. Harvey Guyda, Associate Executive Director of the MCH. “As our world becomes global and thus more complex we need to be mindful of different practices and accommodate our changing populations within the realm of possibility.”


The Colloquium” Advancing access to health equity” will be held on October 12 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the MCH Amphitheatre D-182, 2300 Tupper Street. Media are welcome to attend.

For more information please call:

Lisa Dutton

Manager Public Relations and Communications

The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC
514-412-4307 [email protected]