The SRCHC Information Management Team is comprised of three staff members: Nicole Lewin, Hannah Bang, and Ashly O’Neil. Collectively, Information Management is responsible for the development and delivery of training and support within the various systems across the organization. The team also oversees the collection and analysis of health-related and sociodemographic data. These tasks are not only important to ensure the completion of funder and organizational reports, but also help to identify and address gaps in health equity and access to care among community members. The sociodemographic survey highlighted within this newsletter is a key initiative led by the Information Management Team, which aims to use personal health information data (PHI) to identify disparities in health access and outcomes across various social and economic factors. The information collected and analyzed by the team helps to improve the health and well-being of our clients – through quality improvement efforts, and program planning to address barriers.
Thank you to all the community members who attended one of our January open houses! On January 17, 20 and 22, the 955 Queen Street East location of South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) opened its doors to over 80 neighbours, local business owners and community members to learn more about our work.
For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, open houses were hosted at the 955 Queen St. East location to engage and discuss services with community members face-to-face. Attendees were able to gain a deeper understanding of the wide range of programs and services available at the Centre, ask service providers questions, and talk to our passionate staff about their work. Program and service displays included diabetes care, physiotherapy, midwifery, harm reduction, seniors’ programs, the Harmony Community Food Centre, registered dieticians and more. Building tours of each floor of the Centre, as well as Consumption and Treatment Services, were also offered to provide a comprehensive view of the resources available to community members.
Additional open houses at 955 Queen will be hosted in upcoming months. The next one is Tuesday, March 5th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. More info coming soon!
Sociodemographic data collection has been a practice at South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) for many years. With efforts from many staff dedicated to influencing change in our health care system, the initiative aims to look at the social determinants of health that our clients face.
There is a desperate need to address health care inequities across the health care system. The collection of this data helps inform program development and delivery. Is there a gap in services being offered in languages which clients feel most comfortable speaking? Are there disparities in programs to support people living with chronic diseases? Is there a need to implement pathways to accessing primary care for newcomers and refugees? These questions aren’t possible to answer without the collection of sociodemographic data.
It is because of this data collection that we have been able to identify, for example, that 40% of SRCHC’s eligible East Asian client population have not completed their colorectal cancer screening tests. This data has presented SRCHC with opportunities to improve our programming to better reach this community of clients. Subsequent improvements have included providing educational materials on the importance of cancer screening and how screening can be accessed, in the languages that community members want.
Currently, SRCHC is in the process of rolling out an expanded set of sociodemographic questions; an initiative led and mandated by Ontario Health – Toronto Region. This includes an increased number of questions asking about important aspects of lived experience. The language of the questions has been carefully considered to ensure they are respectful and equitable, ultimately leading us to better understand the needs of our clients with regards to addressing health equity.
We ask because we care.
The MATCH (Midwifery and Toronto Community Health) Program has recently expanded their team of midwives to include social worker, Deborah Connerty. While the focus of MATCH midwives is on clinical issues related to pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum, Deborah’s role aims to help pregnant people manage their mental health.
Pregnant people who have previously experienced depression or anxiety are at a higher risk of experiencing depression once pregnant or soon after birth. In addition, the loneliness of homelessness, living in poverty and experiencing violence in a relationship has the potential to negatively impact a pregnant or parenting person’s ability to care for themselves and their child, and to form secure attachments with their infant. Deborah’s role as a social worker on the MATCH team is to work with the midwives to identify these types of concerns and to ensure early interventions to support parents and children. This work includes connecting clients to community resources, assisting with applications such as employment insurance, childcare subsidies and birth certificates, and providing counseling and trauma-informed therapy. Deborah also helps to coordinate essential resources for clients such as diapers, baby clothes and other donated items based on client needs.
The MATCH (Midwifery and Toronto Community Health) Program is excited to be celebrating its five-year anniversary! The program was first funded by the Ministry of Health in the spring of 2018. This was followed by several months of work to assemble an initial team of four midwives and begin delivering babies at Michael Garron Hospital, the Toronto Birth Centre and clients’ homes. In January 2019, the MATCH Program had their first birth at Michael Garron Hospital and we are thinking of that baby as she just turned five!
Since 2018, the program has grown from four to six midwives, has provided pregnancy, labour, birth, and postpartum care for many families in East Toronto, and has expanded program services to offer medication abortion care. The program has also added a social worker to support clients’ social and mental health needs. Additionally, clients are often connected with dietician and physiotherapist services, as well as primary health care for non-obstetric concerns.
In the spring of 2023, the MATCH team began staffing the Early Pregnancy Clinic at Michael Garron Hospital. This means that people seeking care in the emergency room with concerns like bleeding in early pregnancy now have follow-up outpatient care with one of the MATCH Program midwives. This is a new role for midwifery in the Ontario health care system and it is hoped that midwifery leadership in the outpatient setting can improve wait times and follow-up care for the childbearing population of East Toronto.
Here’s to the next five years!
November was a truly special month for Harmony Hall Seniors Active Living Centres. We hosted a successful Seniors Fair featuring a range of enriching activities including information booths, fall prevention workshops, an elder abuse workshop, and cultural performances. 125 healthy meals and snacks were provided during the fair with the support of the Harmony Community Food Centre. Refer to our monthly calendars to stay up-to-date with future celebrations and workshops.
In the fall, the seniors transportation team safely provided over 1300 rides to seniors aged 55+ and adults with disabilities living within East York. Please visit our program page if you want to travel safely with us this winter.
We had a busy autumn at the Harmony Community Food Centre with lots of great programs including the Good Food Market, Mind Your Food youth program, community meals, garden club, special holiday meals and more.
- The Good Food Market saw 1,886 visits during the four months that it ran in 2023! It is now on pause for the winter months and we look forward to starting it up again in the spring.
- The Mind Your Food program involved 14 youth aged 13-18 years old. The program featured discussions about food traditions, our connection to land, and how well-being is connected to what we eat. It also allowed youth to improve their cooking skills and try new recipes.
- 1,553 free hot meals were provided through the weekly community meal program and 35 families won free turkeys through the holiday turkey raffle.
- Two rounds of a free 6-week community kitchen program will be offered this year. Individuals aged 18+ with any level of cooking experience are welcome! Please contact [email protected] for more information.
For the first time post-pandemic, Choose Health, a program of South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC), successfully coordinated two in-person visits to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The ROM is a long-standing partner of the Choose Health program. The partnership serves as an innovative means for people to stay active while living with long-term health conditions. Museum exhibits are used to address social isolation and bring together diverse members of the community to discuss topics of power, community-building, storytelling and mental health.
Two groups visited the ROM’s Being and Belonging exhibit on December 8, 2023 and January 5, 2024. The exhibit featured the works of 25 women artists from the broader Islamic world, spanning from West Africa to Southeast Asia. The exhibit addressed complex and contemporary issues faced by women in the Muslim world. Both visits were followed by very engaging discussions amongst group members about the exhibit’s themes of space, movement and power.
Choose Health looks forward to creating more opportunities for in-person programming in the near future. In 2024, Choose Health will continue to engage with community members to offer chronic disease and chronic pain workshop series. The workshops offer mutual support and work towards building participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives. Choose Health also provides workshops for caregivers and health literacy professional development opportunities for health care providers. To learn more about Choose Health programs please visit selfmanagementtc.ca.
Yesterday the National Post published an article containing statements and allegations by a self-identified former SRCHC employee related to the operation of the Centre and our harm reduction services.
Due to our obligations and interests in protecting employee and client confidentiality, safety and security, SRCHC is constrained in our ability to respond to this article. However, we feel compelled to respond to a number of comments or allegations in the article about our operations, which may otherwise be accepted as fact and recirculated.
Do we permit stolen goods to be purchased and sold on the property? No. Do we allow drug dealers to set up shop inside the Centre? Absolutely not. Do we allow managers and staff to use drugs and alcohol while they are at work? We do not. We do employ peers/workers with lived and living experience who are people who use drugs, an established best practice in harm reduction programs.
I see the remarkable work performed by our staff every day, in challenging conditions, with vulnerable clients who need us now more than ever. As Chief Executive of this organization I stand behind our employees and support their commitment.
Many residents and businesses in our area understand and appreciate what we do and recognize that we are working together to support the community, our staff and our clients.
In the coming months, we will have more to say about the extraordinary work our team is doing to save lives and reduce the harm of the drug poisoning epidemic. Please be assured that we remain committed to helping clients to get the care and support they need at the heart of this very compassionate community.
CEO, South Riverdale Community Health Centre
In the spring of 2022, a group of staff led by SRCHC’s Indigenous Health Promoter, Les Harper, started a regalia-making program that was the first of its kind to bring together Indigenous women who use drugs to provide a space for their inclusion in cultural activities from a harm-reduction framework. Regalia is the traditional clothing and accessories worn by Indigenous people at dances and cultural events. Over an eight-week period in May and June, six participants worked with well-known regalia-maker and dancer Nichole Leveck and her daughter Nazarene Pope to envision and create their own regalia. The group culminated in a community Circle and coming-out dance that brought program participants together to showcase their regalia.
The regalia project’s activities were grounded in relationship-building and shared teachings. Elder Wanda Whitebird offered guidance to the program and gave the group its name: Northern Feathers Dance Troupe. This name reflects both what the dancers have in common and their unique contributions. Like feathers, they are each vitally important, and like birds, they are ready to fly. The Northern Feathers dancers have since participated in other community powwows and cultural events. SRCHC is grateful to have had the opportunity to support this space for community building and to be able to witness the joy and bravery of our community so beautifully expressed.
A documentary film titled Northern Feathers: Love, Culture, Harm Reduction was made about the regalia-making program and features Les Harper, Elder Wanda Whitebird, Nichole Leveck and the Northern Feathers Dance Troupe. The film was directed by Jason S. Cipparrone of Sheltered Perspective Films and executively produced by Les Harper. Watch the documentary trailer.
The program was also featured in a recent article published by The Hoser. Read the article here.
In late September, South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) participated in an open house at the Oakridge Health and Harm Reduction Hub to raise awareness of the site and celebrate an expansion in hours and services.
The hub offers walk-in services, including harm reduction supplies, counselling and peer support for people who use drugs and other substances. The goal is to improve the health and well-being of people who use substances and better connect local residents with health, social and community services.
Service users do not need a health card, family doctor or medical referral to use the hub’s services. This is a supportive and inclusive space, where everyone is welcome.
In addition to SRCHC, participating partners at the hub include Comprehensive Treatment Centre, Gerstein Crisis Centre, Sound Times Support Services and St. Michael’s Homes. All of these organizations are members of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto.
When asking clients from the Oakridge community about the impact of the hub, they shared that “staff are very helpful, welcoming, everyone is friendly” and “we value the additional days and times they are open because of the need for more help in the area.
Learn more about the hub at ethp.ca/OakridgeHub