Better bereavement education is needed for doctors, says York sociologist

"No woman who comes to the hospital with symptoms of a miscarriage should be left waiting for care in a public waiting room," said sociologist Deborah Davidson, who has had two miscarriages herself and volunteers with Bereaved Families of Ontario, in a story in the Toronto Star Dec. 18.

"A system to assess and improve compassionate care for miscarriage should be implemented," says Davidson, who teaches in York’s Faculty of Arts and has completed a PhD dissertation on the subject of miscarriage.

While the care associated with stillbirths and the death of newborns has improved over the last two decades, "compassionate care for women who experience earlier miscarriage is still wanting," says Davidson.

Nursing students are being taught how to support women but "education for physicians is still inadequate," she says, adding she believes bereavement education should be made an important part of medical education.

  • What should a woman do if she is having a miscarriage in the first trimester of her pregnancy?, wrote the Star in a related story Dec. 18.

The support of family and friends is important for any woman suffering a miscarriage, says Davidson. The best thing, is to simply listen, she says.

"Let her direct the conversation. If she wants to talk about her loss, she will. When she talks about her baby by name, use that name in conversation. Remember that not all women experience loss in the same way. Be open, and follow her lead. Be there for her."

Well-meaning but misguided sentiments from family and friends – "It was for the best," and "You can still have another one" – add to the anguish of miscarriage, says Davidson. "To the woman who grieves the loss of her fetus or her baby, these are not comforting words," Davidson says. Consequently, many women seek solace from Web sites.

Temp workers seek holiday pay

Temporary work agencies often avoid paying for statutory holidays by having workers sign a contract saying they are classified as what’s called "elect to work", wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 18, quoting a spokesperson from the Workers Action Centre, which mounted a protest of the practice on Dec. 17. Under the Employment Standards Act, this means that they are allowed to turn a job down anytime without penalty but are also exempt from holiday pay.

Eric Tucker, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, whose research includes labour law, said elect-to-work has been "a thorny issue" with respect to agency work. "Many of these agencies actually operate on the basis that people are given assignments that can last for months or even longer in some cases. Certainly, in that circumstance, to say that notionally there is some kind of elect-to-work arrangement…just seems unrealistic."

York’s EcoSchools program fuels community’s Kilowatt Countdown Challenge

The Township of South Stormont, Ont., has joined the global battle against the damaging effects of climate change with its own energy conservation challenge, wrote the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder Dec. 18 in a story about the Kilowatt Countdown Challenge energy savings promotion.

South Stormont schools are supporting Kilowatt Countdown by sending a registration flyer home with each school family after Christmas. Teachers may also choose to use lesson plans on reducing energy consumption provided by the Ontario EcoSchools program from York University, which is tied in with the curriculum.