Major health disparities persist between various groups in Canadian society. While much of Canada’s healthcare delivery system is focused almost exclusively on providing clinic- and hospital-based medical care to individuals, the practice of social medicine targets so-called “upstream” factors including housing, education, income, racism, food insecurity and other environmental influences. The goal is to prevent illness from happening in the first place, saving lives and finite healthcare dollars.
At the forefront of these efforts is the Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine Innovation at UHN, led by Dr. Andrew Boozary. The new, first-of-its-kind Centre is a leading voice for social medicine advocacy and policy development in Canada. Unlike any other current structure in the country, the Centre is focused on the implementation and evaluation of new models of care. Because the Centre is embedded within UHN and partner organizations across the city, individuals are better linked to community services most appropriate to their specific needs, and innovative care models are more easily disseminated to the underserved members of our community.
UHN is ideal to host the Centre because of our experience caring for individuals from disadvantaged communities. As one example, UHN’s Emergency Departments care for 45 per cent of all ER visits from individuals living in homeless shelters in Toronto.
The impact of the COVID-19 on vulnerable populations
For individuals who are dealing with homelessness, poverty and in many cases, addiction, COVID-19 stacks a crisis upon a crisis. In addition to the potential physical toll of contracting the virus, there is a mental and emotional one that comes with the worry of contracting COVID-19. And, with the pandemic taking an economic toll as people are laid off and lose income security, more people are relying on a social safety net that is already stretched to the limit.
To address the urgent challenges posed by COVID-19 among Toronto’s homeless, the Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine Innovation has partnered with the Ontario Health, City of Toronto, the Toronto Region Homeless Response and community organizations across the city to help provide solutions and a voice for our vulnerable populations.
We need donor support to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community have access to the care they need and deserve.
Associate Vice President, Major Gifts