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When it comes to healthcare, language is no barrier in French speaking St. John Valley

Walk into any store, restaurant or service facility in the St. John Valley and there’s a pretty good chance of hearing patrons conducting business or simply chatting in their native French.

Until 40 or so years ago, French was the first language for most folks born and raised in northern Maine from St. Francis east to Van Buren and Fort Kent south to Winterville. And while subsequent generations heard and spoke the language less thanks to public education policy dictating English-only classrooms, the French language has continued to be spoken with many of the area’s senior residents preferring it over English.

So when it comes to their health and long term care needs, area hospitals and care facilities want to make sure they have all their language bases covered.

“It can be pretty challenging,” said Nicole Marquis, associate director of nursing at Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent. “On the inpatient floor we do struggle a bit [because] there are hospitalists who do not speak French.”

Northern Maine Medical Center does what it can though. Marquis said the hospital employs numerous nurses and aids who do speak French and are always ready to step in and translate when needed.

The Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “When it comes to healthcare, language is no barrier in French speaking St. John Valley,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Julia Bayly, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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