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Our Stories

Dr. Carolyn Snider returning home as new Chief of Emergency Medicine for St. Michael’s

Toronto, November 27, 2018

By Michael Oliveira

Dr. Carolyn Snider
Dr. Carolyn Snider

Toronto and Winnipeg share more in common than you might think, says St. Michael’s Hospital’s incoming Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Carolyn Snider. At least when it comes to their emergency departments.

“There’s a lot of overlap,” says Dr. Snider, who officially begins her role on Jan. 1, 2019 after working for seven years in Winnipeg at the city’s largest hospital, the Health Sciences Centre. Dr. Snider is returning to St. Michael’s, having worked at the hospital as an emergency department physician and trauma team leader for about three years before moving to Winnipeg in 2011.

“Winnipeg is an incredibly busy city, it has one of the highest homicide rates in Canada and we saw trauma from across the province and northwestern Ontario. Where in Toronto you see more gunshot wounds, we saw a high proportion of stabbings, which can be just as complex in the trauma bay. It was not uncommon for us to have multiple patients who had been stabbed on a Saturday night shift, so our trauma team was extremely busy in Winnipeg,” explains Dr. Snider.

Another important commonality between her previous work in Winnipeg and new role in Toronto is a focus on serving marginalized and disadvantaged populations.

“I look forward to being in a hospital that values and supports their mission on understanding the need to care for disadvantaged and marginalized people,” says Dr. Snider.

“I’m looking forward to working with community partners to figure out how we can better serve those populations.”

While in Winnipeg, Dr. Snider developed the Emergency Department Violence Intervention Program, which attempts to break the cycle of violence for young people, by pairing them with a support worker in the ED while being treated for their injuries. Support workers help the victims work on goals they identify for themselves, which could be related to justice, education, employment or housing.

There are approximately 1,000 visits to Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre each year by youth injured by violence and about one in five of the victims were returning to the ED because of another incident within a year.

In the years after launching EDVIP, return visits to the hospital’s ED by young victims of violence decreased by 43 per cent. There was a decrease in involvement in the justice system and an increase in school enrolment and graduation. This work led Dr. Snider to write a report for the World Health Organization on the role of emergency medicine providers in recognizing and responding to violence.

Dr. Snider now looks forward to how she can contribute back at St. Michael’s and highlights the need to address the root causes of violence — poverty, unemployment, access to handguns, safe housing, early childhood intervention, support for families, and access to addiction and mental health resources — in addition to providing treatment.

“I look forward to the opportunity to take the lessons I’ve learned from working with community members on EDVIP – they were the experts in helping us develop, implement and evaluate the program.” she says.

Of course, the impact of the Danforth shootings on St. Michael’s staff in the emergency department and throughout the hospital was not lost on Dr. Snider as she watched the news coverage from afar.

“There was no doubt in my mind that everyone was receiving excellent care. The emergency department and trauma staff are all superb clinicians and very level-headed, so in that moment, I knew the care people received would be outstanding,” Dr. Snider says.

“I am conscious that in this role of chief of the ED, I must ensure that the team continues to be ready for whatever comes our way, and then to be ready afterwards to understand, debrief and acknowledge the effect on individuals, as well as the team, and be able to learn from that and share experiences with others as well.”

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 more than 29 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.

St. Michael’s Hospital with Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre now operate under one corporate entity as of August 1, 2017. United, the three organizations serve patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education.

See More of Our Stories in 2018