A Brief History: 1976 - 2006
The South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) opened its doors at a former police station on Pape Avenue in November 1976.
Over the last 30 years, the Centre has increased staffing from three full-time health professionals (two doctors and a nurse practitioner), cleaners and a bookkeeper to 70 full- and part-time employees, including five physicians, five nurse practitioners and four medical receptionists.
After outgrowing the Pape Avenue facility in 1986, SRCHC moved to the current building on Queen Street East in June 1998.
- Number of patients on the first day: 4
Average number of patients and clients seen in a day (2006): 90
- Patient visits in 1976/77: 2,850
Patient visits in 2005/6: 19,866
- House calls in 1976/77: 162
Home visits in 2005/6: 1,352
- Patients without Medicare coverage in 1976: 15%
Patients without OHIP in 2006: 22%
- Primary environmental concern in 1976: lead
In 2006: indoor air quality, garbage incineration, Portlands Energy Centre
- May 12, 1976 — The South Riverdale Community Health Centre incorporates.
- November, 1976 — We welcome our first patients as Ontario’s 11th community health centre, in a former police station on Pape Avenue.
- Summer, 1977 — Five community workers are hired through Canada Works to research community needs.
- Fall, 1977 — Approximately 75 people attend our first annual general meeting.
- 1978 — During renovations, the Centre moves into St. John’s Presbyterian Church.
- A chiropodist volunteers at the Centre until a court decision undermines the profession.
- Intent on establishing foot care, we join lobby efforts to win professional standing.
- Three independent community programs (Parents Anonymous, YWCA Teen Mothers and the Healthiest Baby project) move into the second floor.
- Late 1970s — Medical staff work with Nellie’s Hostel and Injured Workers Consultants, and support political refugees on hunger strikes. Community projects include polio and flu clinics, a Chinese language program, and outreach to inmates at the Don Jail.
- 1980 — Supermarket tours help low-income clients stretch their food dollars.
- 1981 — Board establishes a subcommittee to improve services for women; a highly successful Women’s Health Day event is held the following year.
- AIDS symptoms are first seen at SRCHC; it is identified as a disease in 1983.
- 1982 — Patient profiles reveal that our client population is sicker and poorer than the average Toronto resident.
- SRCHC and the City carry out Canada’s largest screening for lead levels in blood, testing 2,300 schoolchildren and adults. About one in six young children living south of Queen Street between Logan and Leslie had levels considered detrimental to their health. The Environmental Health Committee tours a dozen contaminated industrial sites in Riverdale.
- The Ontario government announces that community health centres, no longer experimental, will receive stable funding.
- 1983 — Toronto’s Public Health Department and the Centre open a family planning and sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic.
- Our first legally recognized chiropodist starts work.
- Longstanding SRCHC advocate Jim Renwick, Riverdale’s MPP, dies. In 1998, two rooms in the new building are named in his honour.
- 1984 — As part of International Youth Year, the Centre and Public Health sponsor a health fair for teens.
- 1985 — The new government strengthens the provincial commitment to community-based services. SRCHC hosts visitors investigating health centres from Canada, the United States, Sweden and Singapore.
- 1986 — The Board supports provincial legislation that prohibits physicians from billing above Medicare rates.
- Environmental activist Dr. Rosalie Bertell speaks at our 10th annual meeting.
- Programs and services expand into two satellite locations.
- 1987 — SRCHC co-sponsors Take Back the Night demonstrations and self-defence classes for women.
- Environment Minister Jim Bradley announces a program to replace soil for 1,000 Riverdale properties south of Queen Street between Booth and Laing.
- The Centre joins the National Action Committee on the Status of Women
- Late 1980s — Programs include nutrition for men living at the local John Howard House, pregnancy workshops for teens, birth control, menopause and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) courses. Despite increasing needs, the next decade is marked by decreased government funding for health care.
- 1990 — A doctor-and-nurse team treat Somalian and Spanish-speaking refugees at the Red Door Shelter.
- The Daily Food Bank kicks off its Easter food drive with a press conference at the Centre. We help found Riverdale People’s Food Market and food-buying club, and organize community dinners and trips to local farms.
- Our 28 staff members include nutritionists, case managers and health promoters as well as administration and support staff. Work focuses on obstetrical care, counseling, and family planning; indoor air quality, mental health and violence, and access for under-served ethno-racial groups, primarily for the Chinese community. In 1995, 22% of staff speak Chinese.
- We co-sponsor a meeting to stop the export of lead to Latin America.
- 1992 — When white supremacists try to recruit youth at Riverdale high schools, the Centre coordinates a community rally and advocates long-term anti-racist education.
- The Board changes from hands-on to policy-making. It now has 12 community members.
- 1993 — The first full year that we have an environmental health promoter.
- 1994 — Almost 80% of people using the centre identify themselves as poor.
- 1995 — Three positions are lost to provincial budget cuts.
- 1996 — Environmental projects include audits at 62 Metro Toronto Housing Authority units, a theatre project on indoor hazards, and baskets of safe cleaning products through the People’s Food Market.
- 1997 — Construction begins on our new building at Queen and Heward; it opens in June, 1998.
- 1998 — Seniors program expands to two staff, joined later by a health educator and nutritionist.
- 1999 — The Health Information Centre opens with mainly volunteer staff.
- A harm reduction worker develops programs for injection drug users.
- 2000 — Government cutbacks to health care continue.
- 2002 — A breast health program for Chinese women begins, plus a diabetes education network and early-years JumpStart programs for families at risk.
- The Canadian Institute of Health recognizes our work on a training manual on environmental risks during pregnancy. Medicare advocate Roy Romanov receives an Atkinson Foundation award at the Centre.
- 2003 — The Primary Asthma Pilot project starts with East End Community Health Centre as partner.
- 2004 — The Centre receives accreditation and commendations for innovative community health service and harm reduction work.
- 2005 — The Centre advocates for a bike lane on Dundas Street and starts a bicycle clinic. We win the City of Toronto bicycle commuting award.
- Asthma, diabetes and early years programs receive stable funding.
- 2006 — The South Asian women’s support group starts.
- We celebrate our first 30 years!