As an emergency physician, Raj Grewal knows how difficult it can be to seek medical help when language is a barrier. He sees it all the time with his South Asian patients at Hamilton Health Sciences – the relief on their faces when he switches from English to Punjabi and they can finally speak to someone in a language they understand.
In Brampton’s L6P neighbourhood, where Dr. Grewal grew up, that language barrier was having dire consequences during the pandemic. Some 60 per cent of L6P residents are South Asian, and with a COVID-19 positivity rate of 20 per cent – more than three times the provincial average – he knew it was crucial to get out the message about testing and other public-health measures in languages community members could understand.
In November, he teamed up with his respirologist wife, Anju Anand, and his mom, Paramjit Kaur Grewal – who still lives in L6P – to create a short video in Punjabi instructing residents how to get tested. Then they fired it off on WhatsApp, the messaging platform of choice among the South Asian community. The video was shared hundreds of times. Dr. Grewal himself even had it sent back to him by loved ones.