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St. Michael’s opens second pediatric clinic in a Toronto school

Toronto, November 10, 2015

By Leslie Shepherd

Staff from St. Michael's Hospital and the Toronto District School Board celebrate the opening of the pediatric clinic at Nelson Mandela Park Public School.
St. Michael's Hospital and the Toronto District School Board celebrate the opening of the pediatric clinic at Nelson Mandela Park Public School.

St. Michael’s Hospital today opened its second pediatric clinic in a Toronto school, at Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Regent Park.

The clinic, a partnership with the Toronto District School Board’s Model Schools for Inner Cities Program, will offer a wide variety of medical services to hundreds of children and their families in the Regent Park area, with a focus on developmental and mental health care.

“With this new clinic we are able to step out of our silos and work together as an outreach team of health care workers and educators to provide the best, most holistic care to children in need,” said Dr. Sloane Freeman, a pediatrician with St. Michael’s Inner City Health Program who is the medical lead and founder of the Model Schools Pediatric Health Initiative.

“We started this initiative as a response to a major concern that children in our own back yard faced barriers to accessing health care, in particular, development and mental health care. What better place to ‘find’ the children when the children cannot ‘find’ us, than at school. We realized that to alleviate the barriers to accessing health care – transportation, language, culture, finances and navigation – we needed to join forces with the school board, break down silos and come to school.”

The clinic is open three days a week and is staffed by a family physician, Dr. Laurie Green; Dr. Freeman and fellow pediatrician Dr. Tony Barozzino, director of ambulatory and outreach services for St. Michael’s Pediatric Department, which is headed by Dr. Michael Sgro. There are also two developmental pediatricians. Dr. Freeman said the health-care team works closely with TDSB educators and allied staff.

Dr. Freeman opened the first Toronto school clinic in 2010 at Sprucecourt Junior Public School, which was also the first of its kind in Canada. The clinic has seen close to 700 students, most for complex developmental, mental health and psychosocial problems.

The two clinics have received financial support from private donors, including Intact Financial Corp., Purdue Pharma, the employees of TD Securities through the TD Securities Underwriting Hope Fund, the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, the Frederick and Douglas Dickson Memorial Foundation and a donor who wishes to remain anonymous at this time.

“Having access to these pediatric clinics in Toronto schools can be a game-changer for children with developmental challenges, who will now be able to get assessments up to two years before they otherwise would,” said Dr. Doug Sinclair, executive vice-president and chief medical officer of St. Michael’s Hospital. “This investment in health-care in young children will have a profound effect on their health and well-being for the rest of their lives.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.