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Montreal Children's Hospital

1001 Boulevard Décarie
Montreal H4A 3J5

Principal: Gail Callender
Phone Number: 412-4400 ext. 23128
Fax Number: 514-412-4319
E-mail: mtlchildhosp@emsb.qc.ca

EMSB AND THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

When a child is admitted to the Montreal Children's Hospital (MCH) of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), be it for a short or long term stay, they can count on their educational needs being taken care of thanks to the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

The EMSB has a team of two teachers assigned full-time to the MCH. There are also three other teachers from the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) who are there to provide attention to French-speaking students. “The teachers at the Montreal Children's Hospital really make a difference for our patients who have to be hospitalized for a long period of time,” said Dr. Harvey Guyda, associate executive director of the hospital. “They bring in the normal part of life in a world filled with challenging medical issues. They provide academic support to our patients to insure that their school year is not compromised and that they will be ready to go back in their own school when being discharge from the hospital. The teachers often go beyond their role by providing emotional support as they become supportive adults who are able to show compassion to the patients.”

This program, administered by the EMSB, provides educational services to children admitted to the medical wards and those attending the out patient clinics, namely hemodialysisand oncology. Services are provided for the entire range of medical situations, which are treated at the hospital. The school range covers kindergarten to Grade 11, both in regular and special needs programs. Hospital stays vary due to the transient population among them. Cases include:

  • Repeated oncology, cystic fibrosis and organ transplant admissions;
  • Children admitted for sudden illness or injury;
  • Scheduled operations;
  • Dialysis patients in two or three days during the school week;
  • Eating disorders.

Most patients are confined to their room; necessitating a tutorial format. The primary emphasis is on English and math. The duration of the tutorial is normally between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the child’s physical state, their school needs and teachers’ caseload. To provide academic continuity, the ward teachers stay in close touch with the child’s school. As much as possible work done in the hospital mirrors work covered in the child’s regular classroom. Teaching in the hospital requires balanced communication between patient, medical staff, parents and school.

Each day the teachers review a list of patients who have been admitted. They will make a courtesy call to the room to see if there is anything they can do of assistance. Sometimes a student is there for only a few short days. In many cases, they are too ill to do anything. But most of them want to keep up with their studies and appreciate the offer. School is not mandatory here.

There are, of course, the long term stays of kids with leukemia, cancer, stomach ailments and eating disorders.

TRANSITION BACK TO SCHOOL

If the child must return to school after a lengthy stay at the hospital, the teacher makes school visits to make sure the transition back to their regular classes is as smooth as possible. When children return to the clinic for followups, the success of the child’s integration is evaluated and any problems are investigated. If the child has no follow-up visit, the hospital teacher calls the school to make sure everything is going okay (usually after one week). To normalize as much as possible the life of the child while in hospital, scheduling a daily school time will make the child feel like a “regular” kid in that he goes to school and has “homework.” When the child looks forward to this time, the success is evident. By allowing the child to keep in touch with his class and teacher (email, sending them letters, etc.) and by using the same tools as in school (for example computers) he or she will feel more and more like a “normal” kid. Children who make frequent trips to the hospital clinics (primarily in hematology and dialysis) usually bring their schoolwork with them. When major school or ministry exams (mid-term or year-end) are given at the school, they are also administered by the hospital teacher.

Children who cannot return to school upon discharge require homebound teaching. The hospital teacher initiates the paperwork, calls the school administration, and explains the process to the parents.