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The Honourable David Onley helps Mount Sinai Hospital celebrate United Nations’ Human Rights Day and International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mount Sinai champions eliminating barriers for patients in Ontario

December 9, 2009  – The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, spoke about accessibility today at Mount Sinai Hospital’s celebration for United Nations’ Human Rights Day and International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The event highlights Mount Sinai’s commitment to raising awareness about accessibility issues among staff and in the health-care community.

The Hospital has made progress toward eliminating barriers for all persons by designing specialized patient care programs and providing training tools for Mount Sinai staff that champion accessibility.

"I am impressed by the way in which Mount Sinai Hospital has consistently sought ways to eliminate barriers to access the variety of health services they provide," said His Honour.

“Mount Sinai’s goal is to break down any existing physical, communication, or delivery-of-care barrier that a person could encounter while at the Hospital,” said Altaf Stationwala, Senior Vice President, Operations and Re-development, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Executive Sponsor of the Hospital’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Planning Committee.

Mount Sinai has set a leadership example in health care through patient care programs and services that are attuned to the individual needs of each patient. The following are three areas that have broken down barriers.

    • Mount Sinai’s Dental Program for Persons with Disabilities provides dental care for special needs persons, which is one of the top unmet health needs facing individuals with disabilities, and an important part of overall health. Some of the program’s 3,000 patients travel over 300 kilometres for a 30-minute appointment because few dentistry offices in Ontario have the resources to care for people with disabilities.
    • Mount Sinai’s Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre ensures that mammograms are accessible to women with disabilities by providing a space with wide doorways, adjustable mammography machines and staff who have been trained to communicate sensitively, provide extra appointment time and an extra technician to assist with the mammogram procedure, if needed.
    • Mount Sinai’s Special Pregnancy Program does not view a disability as a barrier to care. Staff have been trained to accommodate the individual needs of each patient, linking them with other hospital and community supports if required. Where possible, rooms have been modified to accommodate wheelchairs and feature adjustable equipment such as beds that can raise or lower with the push of a button.

Lucy Costa Nyman, who was born with cerebral palsy, encountered barriers fifteen years ago when she tried to access an obstetrician due to the lack of knowledge, awareness and comfort in working with a pregnant woman with a disability. She didn’t have success until she was referred to an obstetrician at Mount Sinai Hospital. More recently, Costa Nyman came to the Hospital for her first mammogram because of its accessible equipment and care.

Costa Nyman is now an instructor for Health Equity staff training at Mount Sinai, focusing on the impact of traumatic experiences for people with disabilities.

“The training for staff is important,” said Costa Nyman. “People with disabilities can have medical experiences that create trauma with a lasting impact. For many people with disabilities, they experience a clinical or medical intervention which can lead to trauma - though many of these interventions cannot be avoided. The trauma can also be worsened by society’s and health-care professionals’ negative views and responses to people with disabilities. My training aims to work with health-care professionals to minimize trauma.”

The Health Equity training program began in October 2009.

“Health Equity training along with other education tools is an important part of Mount Sinai’s strategy to become a barrier-free Hospital,” said Stationwala. “We’ve made progress, but we’re not stopping here.”

About Mount Sinai Hospital

Mount Sinai Hospital is an internationally recognized, 472-bed acute care academic health sciences centre affiliated with the University of Toronto. It is known for excellence in the provision of compassionate patient care, innovative education, and leading-edge research. Mount Sinai’s Centres of Excellence include Women's and Infants' Health; Surgery and Oncology; Acute and Chronic Medicine; Laboratory Medicine and Infection Control, and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. For more information about Mount Sinai Hospital, please visit us online at


Media Contact

Melissa McDermott
Mount Sinai Hospital
416-586-4800 ext. 8306