EXCLUSIVE: Couple kicked out of hospital after alleged language dispute

A 32-year-old Verdun man claims he and his girlfriend were treated to verbal abuse and kicked out of the Verdun Hospital after asking for service in English.

Jabari Radway told CJAD 800 News he took his 24-year-old girlfriend to the Verdun Hospital earlier this week after she complained of chest pains. The doctor attended to her and told her to see a nurse for further bloodwork and other tests. When Radway asked the nurse to explain what he was doing in English to his non-French speaking girlfriend...

"He basically just said to me, 'This is Quebec and how stupid can she f***ing be, because he was asking her to put her hand on the desk to draw some blood," Radway said.

"Then he told us, 'This is Quebec. If we're not happy, get the f*** out of the hospital.' And he picked up the vials that he was supposed to take to draw her blood with and shot everything in the garbage."

Radway, who speaks and understands French, said he tried to get a supervisor to intervene and to get his girlfriend the tests she needed, adding he wasn't being confrontational. He said that's when they called security to escort them out. His girlfriend ended up going to the Jewish General Hospital and is doing alright. Radway said the incident was unacceptable and upsetting and wants the worker disciplined.

"Maybe a suspension or a public apology or something. Something needs to be done," Radway said.

"When it came to my girlfriend's health, and it's a hospital and it's not like you're going to Tim Horton's and you ask for something and they want to speak to you in French rather than reply to you in English, that's something small," Radway said.

"But when it's a hospital or a healthcare place, her rights as a human being in this country, in this province, I believe she should be able to be served in English."

A spokesperson for the Verdun Hospital says they can't investigate further because no complaint was filed. Monique Guay told CJAD 800 News said it may have been an isolated incident and they won't comment.

Radway says he fully intends to register one. He says he phoned the hospital and expects to hear from them next week.

Guay said while most of their staff are francophone, they have the duty and responsibility towards anglophone patients to find someone who speaks English or to find a way to make them understand. She said they do have anglophone patients and they are well-served for the most part, adding they are surprised to learn of such an incident.

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  1. David posted on 01/17/2014 01:03 PM
    Even as a hardened Quebec Anglophone, I have a hard time believing this story. If it's indeed true, the nurse must be fired and charged with withholding medical treatment from someone in need, which is in fact a crime.
  2. John posted on 01/17/2014 01:12 PM
    I have used the Verdun Hospital quite a bit in the last few months since moving here. I have been served consistently in English there. Staff have gone out of their way to make sure that I understood everything, going so far as to find an English speaker to translate for me if a staff member couldn't speak English.

    Great hospital and fantastic staff!
  3. Joe posted on 01/17/2014 02:11 PM
    This could have been easily avoided if the boyfriend translated for her, seeing as this procedure was as important as he says it was, and we all have understand that tension in this province is at a very high level French and English alike. Also if this did happen as stated I am sure the hospital will rectify this situation.
  4. Grace posted on 01/17/2014 02:15 PM
    I've gone to Verdun hospital a couple of times and they do have some staff that speak English, though there are others that will flat out refuse to acknowledge you in anything but French. While I know this kind of thing does happen in Quebec, I'm unfortunately hesitant to believe this one entirely. Don't get me wrong, it's hard to get English service, but I don't think they would have behaved quite that badly as to threw out medical equipment.
  5. Caterina posted on 01/17/2014 02:34 PM
    I just got discriminated against for the first time last week for being english! Was trying to buy a locks for doors at a locksmith store. Your post just prompted me to call the owner of the locksmith company on to let the guy know about how his employee treated me last week. He said one of his other employees told him what happened as well and he is planning to reprimand him for his behavior! So maybe there is a bit of justice sometimes to those who choose to be discriminatory.
  6. natalie posted on 01/17/2014 02:49 PM
    when it comes to Medical and even some Government words it is hard to understand,and therefore should be aloud in English I guess this Medical Person just thought he or she will change the world!!!!!!All Language should be in the Persons Mother tongue, that does not mean anything is being taken away from Quebec
    1. Ann posted on 07/01/2014 02:38 PM
      @natalie So you''re saying that if someone goes to a hospital from let's say Iran,someone (staff) should speak Iranian? I agree with the story that someone speaking english should be spoken to in english unless they do understand french..but only 2 languages not world wide languages..that's asking too much..
  7. Styne posted on 01/17/2014 04:18 PM
    People needs to understand that language vs health should never be a debate. Imagine if something sever had happened to that girl, would it be worth it for the sake of a language argument? A nurse should never behave like this, period!
  8. George73 posted on 01/17/2014 04:31 PM
    I hope that this was not an issue endemic to Verdun Hospital. I recently took my daughter to the ER at Hawkesbury General in Ontario where the trigage nurse refused to speak English. This was obviously a case of a single French employee who had a grudge against English speakers because if he couldnt speak English he would not have got a job in the Ontarion health care system.

    So you will always find the Francophones whot hate the Anglophones no matter where one is. It doesnt necessarily mean its institutional. Not unless the institution acts upon complaints and disciplines the employee. Since refusal to provde health care services is against the law regardless of province, I would argue that both employees should be fired and subject to legal proceedings. What is the point of a law if it is not enforced?
    1. mp posted on 01/21/2014 01:25 PM
      @George73 George . You are so right..I went to the Hawkesbury general in Ontario... Service was good in english so you hit the wrong person.The wait was 6 hours...emergency went into Doctor went out with the same complaint no Xrays taken on arm as I had fallen hard on the ice. So I really wasted my time and I'm still in pain and my next appointment is with my private doctor on February 14, 2014..The next time this happens to me I will call ambulance to take me to any hospital because they are all the same.. When you need them and wait 16 hours in emergency they are not there for you..Get wheeled in and they will take that X_RAY..
  9. carolyn posted on 01/17/2014 04:38 PM
    i have been to verdun hospital many times for myself as a visitor and they have seen my minor children twice...have never had a problem...
  10. Pauline OLeary posted on 01/17/2014 05:16 PM
    In the past month or 2 we have come to the verdun hospital several times and we have had no proplems with them specking to us in english ,they have been very good to us always ,and while i have been there i have seen many english people come in and would spoke to in english ,
  11. WILLinMTL posted on 01/17/2014 05:18 PM
    I have a hard time believing this. I have been to the Verdun General many times and have always been well served. I've been there both during the day and during the night. It's always been a great place to go.
  12. RonaldG_5916 posted on 01/17/2014 05:21 PM
    I have bee told in a medical clinic by a secretary from another country to speak french in Montreal...because we were in Montreal...where I was born...lmao......Then asked by my family doctoer....why i spoke english to the secreatry.....unbelievablee but true. Took me 5 yrs. to get a family doctor and more important than my health is the languge i speak......By the way I speak both languages perfect and am part of Montreal History...Just look up Guy street....How Insulting.....Ronald Guy
  13. Jim posted on 01/17/2014 05:34 PM
    The last time I had to make use of a General Hospital, I had decided to take the advice of a relative living in St-Lazare and try the hospital in Hawkesbury rather than go to the Lakeshore or a downtown hospital. I was told that they had gone and didn't have to wait at all. Unfortunately, we still had to wait about 10 hours. What was most striking was my wife's experience with the triage nurse. She spoke to him in English and he would only reply to her in French, knowing that she came from Montreal. He, of course was French himself, and no doubt was able to speak English as it was a hospital in Ontario. He still thought that he had the right to refuse to speak to her in English. My point is this. Do not think that this is a problem that is limited to Quebec alone. It has less to do with mutual respect and decency or even in following protocol and laws. It has everything to do with power. I am a health-care worker in Montreal and am English speaking. I provide services readily in French or English depending on my client's mother-tongue or expressed preference without a moments thought, not because I have to, but because it is the respectful thing to do before all else. There are an ever-increasing number of people in Quebec that feel that they have the right to treat others dissimilar to themselves with impunity, most likely because of the on-going validation through the PQ governments exclusionary rhetoric as promoted through their attempts to bring forth restrictive legislation. It is a campaign of hate that is unfortunately contagious. People are now starting to act as if they have the right to treat others abusively and to tell them to leave the province (hospital, etc.) if they don't like it. This does not reflect on the Verdun General Hospital unless they choose not to act upon the complaint. It is a good hospital that provides good English services. This does not account for the cancer which is GROWING in our society and I have proof of it generalization beyond our borders.
  14. dan posted on 01/17/2014 05:38 PM
    yes what the hell is wrong with these people , not sure, but way back in the day, doctors took a oath to help everybody ?i could be wrong? but even so ,well there should be a lawsuit for that go after the cash Jack and good luck.
  15. chantelle posted on 01/17/2014 07:36 PM
    they were probably rude. ive met them both before and they aren't the nicest people
    he probably was just as rude as the nurse/doctor ..or probably exaggerating
    probably using their ghetto attitude or whatever attitude hood rats would use..
  16. N.D. posted on 01/17/2014 08:33 PM
    I've been a bit shocked when I read this. I'm going under two surgeries over there shortly and yet every time I've been there for my tests I've been very well served and helped. People would walk me at the right department. We should not judge the Hospital for one single person who should be reprimanded. It is sad! I'm a French Second Language teacher in Eastern Townships and I live very well with my English neighbors.Every one should deserve to be served in his language (French or English). Even Mme Marois had to learn English and she kind of made it! ;-)
  17. CJ posted on 01/17/2014 11:33 PM
    Yep sound like you all had no problems eh...until it happens to you and you will be singing a different tune. Yeah the guy probably could have translated for her. But a service was requested by a patient!!!!!!!! remember...Put yourselves in his shoes would you want to be spoken to like that! I do not think you would. No one should be spoken to like that in a hospital. Wake up people you are being treated like second class citizens. If you believe this has nothing to do with the current political climate in Quebec you are all fools...It is unacceptable to be treated like that no matter.
  18. David posted on 01/18/2014 03:38 PM
    Radway should obtain the name of the nurse (I don't believe the hospital would be permitted to legally withhold this information) and he should register a complaint directly with the Quebec order of nurses. He can also locate the nurse's license number through the public section of the OIIQ website and use this to report him. The OIIQ has a pretty solid system for investigating and disciplining violations of professional integrity, which this certainly constitutes (if the story as told is in fact true). As a registered nurse, I am horrified by this story. Good luck.
  19. Bill Hammerstein posted on 01/21/2014 09:30 AM
    Is this for real? I can't believe anybody in a hospital would speak to someone like that. Maybe there is some exaggeration going on here.
  20. Robert posted on 01/23/2014 09:59 AM
    I can understand that the hospital is saying that it is an isolated incident. I can believe that there can be some crazy hardcore separatist working at the hospital.

    But I can't believe that security escorted the couple out of the hospital without any good reason.

    This should have ended with the nurse throwing a fit and another one taking his place, but somehow this nurse was able to get security guards to escort the couple out on the basis that they did not speak French. That is the big problem.
  21. Mitchell Belitzky posted on 01/28/2014 03:36 PM
    I've been to Verdun Hospital a number of times over the past year and a half. In the ER (about five times), surgery (stayed four nights), and many procedures and tests. So I have a lot of experience with this hospital. There are many things wrong with the hospital. They are terribly disorganized. Extremely poorly managed. Many times you feel as if you are in a third world country or the USSR circa 1950.

    But as far as being served in English, MOST of the people there will try to accommodate you in English. I have had a few problems. There is definitely an attitude of "this is a French hospital - speak French!". However, in most cases, and especially in the ER, they will speak English to you. No matter where you go in Quebec society, you will always have the odd language bigot. I had one nurse who gave me a hard time, not because I don't speak French (I do), but because I couldn't understand her (very weird foreign French accent and I was on painkillers). She snapped at me. Very unprofessional. But most of the doctors and nurses try to help the patient and don't care about language. The orderlies are not as well educated, so they have a harder time with English. Understandable.

    This is symbolic of a cross-Quebec problem. It's a sad comment on the French in Quebec. It is bigotry. Nothing new. And nothing specific to Verdun Hospital. Try going to the Montreal Heart Institute. Far worse than Verdun Hospital in terms of language. At the MHI, they are RADICAL about you speaking French (except for the doctors). Really disgusting for a hospital to have such an attitude.

    In most cases, the greater the education and and more well-traveled the individual, the more likely they are to a) speak English, and b) not be resentful or bigoted about language.

    Bottom line: Avoid Verdun Hospital, but not because of the language issue, because as an institution they are incompetent and poorly run.
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