How St. Michael’s Family Health Team physicians are supporting neighbourhood partners during COVID-19

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How St. Michael’s Family Health Team physicians are supporting neighbourhood partners during COVID-19

Toronto, May 6, 2020

By Christy Janssens

(Left to Right) Tracy, Zara, Sandra and Charline from New Visions.
(Left to Right) Tracy, Zara, Sandra and Charline from New Visions.

When New Visions Toronto, a non-profit that provides housing and supportive care for people with developmental and physical disabilities, needed help to implement broad testing at their sites, physicians at Unity Health stepped forward to volunteer.

Drs. Laurie Green, Barbara Vari and Lee Schofield, family physicians in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, St. Michael’s Academic Family Health Team, volunteered to help. We asked Dr. Green to tell us about their experience volunteering to support the community through this pandemic and what they’ve learned.

What inspired you to help out in this way?

These residents are part of our community in the St. Lawrence area. We value their unique skills and accommodate their different abilities, including providing community-based care. What was exceptionally inspiring was the dedication and commitment of their on-site health providers and support staff, particularly during this crisis.

What spurred this collaboration between New Visions and St. Michael’s Hospital?

It was difficult for the New Visions caregivers to get residents to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre because of the number of people who needed testing and the screening, for many, is difficult to do safely at the Assessment Centre.

We were well placed to take COVID-19 assessment screening to New Visions with the hospital’s support. In challenging times like this global pandemic it takes a whole team of people working together and between New Visions and St. Michael’s, we have a great one.

Dr. Laurie Green
Dr. Laurie Green

Why is this demographic important to you?

It is a demographic that often gets lost. The majority of children with developmental disabilities get excellent pediatric care but face a difficult journey as they become youth and prepare to navigate adult health care and social services. That’s one of the big things that we are constantly trying to improve within St. Michael’s Hospital: how do we make our regular services accessible to all populations who need us regardless of their abilities?

Is there anyone else you would like to acknowledge?

We appreciate the expertise and advocacy of our colleagues and leadership at the Family Health Team site at St. Lawrence because they step up and recognize the needs of people with developmental disabilities. We feel privileged to be at St. Michael's where we have a focus on the health care and well-being of populations facing a variety of challenges.

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 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.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves 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. For more information, visit

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