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Human-rights complaint against Orillia hospital to be heard Aug. 30

An Orillia woman is preparing to make an appearance before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal after filing a complaint against Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH).

Melissa McKee will head to Toronto Aug. 30 for a three-hour mediation/adjudication hearing at the Social Justice Tribunals Ontario/Ontario Rights Tribunal of Ontario in Toronto.

The main issue for McKee is the way OSMH’s emergency department announces patients’ last names in the waiting room.

For a few years, McKee, who is deaf, has been requesting the hospital better accommodate patients who are deaf or hard of hearing. She wants to see an electronic communication board in the ER waiting room.

Before the hearing begins at the end of the month, the adjudicator might ask the parties involved if they want to try mediation/adjudication. If they agree, the adjudicator will attempt to resolve the matter.

If mediation fails, the hearing will proceed.

It has been a long process to get to this point, said McKee, who filed the human-rights complaint near the end of January.

“Filing a human-rights complaint is a serious, time-consuming process, understandably,” she said. “The application alone took me nearly four hours to complete, and I have strong language skills.”

McKee is not seeking financial compensation; she simply wants a resolution.

“If we cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement on Aug. 30, I believe the next step is a hearing to decide whether or not discrimination occurred,” she said.

Depending on the length of the hearing, a decision could take anywhere from three to six months.

“Ideally, I would like to see an electronic communication board in the OSMH ER wait room to communicate patient names as a visual notification to enter the appropriate treatment door/area,” McKee told OrilliaMatters. “Not only would this benefit DHH (deaf, and hard of hearing) patients, it would benefit everyone with the exception of the legally blind. They will still require an auditory component.