At Women’s College Hospital, we are champions of health equity. We break down barriers to care by ensuring equitable access to health services, supporting those who have been underserved, and transforming how healthcare is delivered in our hospital, in our communities and across Ontario.
It is estimated that one in five Canadians experience chronic pain, yet many studies show that pain is poorly managed despite its prevalence. At the same time, people living with chronic pain need faster and simpler access to specialized care to help them manage their condition. Women’s College Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Sinai Health System, St. Michael’s Hospital and the University Health Network have partnered to create the Toronto Academic Pain Medicine Institute (TAPMI) to meet that urgent need.SHOW MORE +
Based at Women’s College Hospital, TAPMI is the only comprehensive interdisciplinary academic pain program serving as the hub for chronic pain care in the Toronto area. A key feature is the coordination and sharing of expertise at each of the partner hospitals, ensuring that every patient benefits from care especially tailored to them. This not only creates a more patient-centric approach to care but also provides cost savings to the healthcare system by avoiding costly redundancies.
TAPMI increases access to specialized pain care and helps people suffering from pain – who are often stigmatized – better manage their condition.SHOW LESS -
The death rate from opiate overdoses in Ontario has nearly quadrupled in the past 25 years, now outnumbering deaths from motor vehicle accidents. Across Canada, we are experiencing an unprecedented opioid crisis, and the existing treatment model doesn’t meet the needs of patients and their families.SHOW MORE +
As a leader in creating and implementing new treatment strategies, Women’s College Hospital is transforming the way addiction care is delivered through META:PHI (Mentoring Education and Clinical Tools for Addiction: Primary Care-Hospital Integration). The META:PHI project provides seamless, barrier-free care for people with addictions who are able to walk in without an appointment or referral, and get immediate access to lifesaving treatment including counselling and medications. Once stable, patients are connected back to family physicians for long-term followup, with the support of our specialists who offer ongoing consultation.
As part of the provincial META:PHI initiative, our team helped establish seven rapid-access addiction clinics across Ontario in Sudbury, Owen Sound, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Sarnia, London and Newmarket. This model could save countless lives, and has reduced emergency department visits, in-patient stays, and costs to the healthcare system.
Over the coming year, the project will establish five new rapid-access clinics in Toronto, including one that opened at our hospital this spring.SHOW LESS -
As champions of equitable access to healthcare, we’re supporting women who have been underserved because of their cultural background, socioeconomic status or their ability to access services. Women’s College Hospital partnered with YWCA Toronto to provide primary care at the YWCA Elm Centre to the women and children who live there.SHOW MORE +
In collaboration with YWCA case workers and addiction support case workers from the Jean Tweed Centre, our program removes barriers to care by providing women with a clinic that’s embedded within their own community. Once women are ready, we bridge their care by connecting them to family health teams at our hospital or other sites for ongoing primary care.SHOW LESS -
READ MORE OF STEPHEN'S STORY
At 54 years old, Stephen has struggled with unresolved trauma and addiction most of his life. It all began when his father passed away suddenly when Stephen was just 14 years old.
“Part of me closed down. In my mind I had to grow up fast and become tougher because I didn’t have a father to protect me anymore. I felt anger – I didn’t understand why that happened to me,” recalls Stephen.
He turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with his loss, at one point consuming 8 to 20 drinks a day.
“I was a very high-functioning alcoholic. I had a great career in the airline industry. I was a high performer, was promoted. I travelled around the world, living the great life. But at some point things started shifting the other way. As I got more pressure at work I drank more, and the cycle continued.”
Eventually, his addiction led to a divorce. Stephen lost his wife, his job, and his house.
After 30-years of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, Stephen turned his life around – he’s been sober for 10 years, completed a master’s degree in intervention and is now helping others with addictions.
But, despite providing a shoulder to lean on for others in his daily work, he still struggled with his own unresolved trauma. In 2016, Stephen finally faced his problems with the help of Women’s College Hospital. To start, he participated in a study led by the WCH Institute of Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) to evaluate the Big White Wall, an online mental health platform that provides 24/7 anonymous support.
The program can be accessed by patients from the comfort of their own home, and improves access to services for everyone, regardless of the barriers they may experience. For Stephen, the just-in-time online mental health support gave him the tools to cope as he transitioned to more intensive trauma therapy.
Stephen also attended Women’s College Hospital’s 10-week specialized group therapy program, which he found extremely helpful on his path to recovery, later followed by individual trauma therapy sessions in the mental health program.
"My advice to others is that anytime is the right time to do unresolved trauma work. You have to be ready, but you’re more ready than you think."
Innovation and technology have a tremendous opportunity to transform how healthcare services are delivered to people who experience barriers – from the stigma associated with illness to challenges accessing services in remote or rural locations. The Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care, or WIHV, is leading cutting-edge projects that help improve the way care is delivered to patients across Ontario and beyond.SHOW MORE +
With the present and future needs of patients in mind, WIHV develops, evaluates and implements innovative solutions to healthcare challenges, by testing new ideas, programs and policy approaches that improve patient experience and outcomes. As part of this work, in partnership with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), WIHV is evaluating virtual services and digital health applications with patients across the province to improve access to health services such as on-demand, anonymous mental health support and self-management tools. This is just one of many examples of how we are transforming patient care for everyone, no matter where they live and despite the barriers they may experience.SHOW LESS -
READ MORE OF AMIN'S STORY
Amin led a busy life, working full time and acting as a part-time caregiver for his elderly mother until 2014, when he suddenly started experiencing excruciating shoulder pain that stopped him from doing even the simplest of tasks.
“I was always on the go, but when I hurt my shoulder, I could barely lift my arm above my head without severe pain, let alone drive a car or push a wheelchair,” he says.
Amin was diagnosed with severe tendonitis, a condition in which a tendon – a thick cord that attaches a bone to a muscle— becomes inflamed and irritated. Despite trying a variety of treatments, the pain continued to worsen and he was later diagnosed with frozen shoulder, a condition which causes stiffness in the joint along with a buildup of scar tissue, resulting in severe pain and lack of mobility.
Amin visited several healthcare providers, all of whom could ease the pain but weren’t able to treat the underlying issue. However, after meeting Dr. Jas Chahal, orthopedic surgeon at Women’s College Hospital, Amin knew he would soon be on the road to recovery. Dr. Chahal treated his shoulder pain and created a comprehensive care plan which included several exercises for Amin to strengthen his shoulder muscles and regain the use of his arm. He was advised to meet with his family physician and a physiotherapist regularly to ensure he was healing properly.
Thanks to myHealthRecord, Amin was able to manage his health condition and care plan effectively, without interrupting his busy personal and work commitments.
“myHealthRecord allowed me to book my appointments online and conveniently access my medical information on the go. Everything I needed was there – I was even able to view my test results and show them to my family doctor on my phone,” says Amin. “When I had a quick question for my doctor, I was able to send a message while at work, without having to come in for an appointment.”
For patients like Amin, the patient portal allowed him to be actively involved and stay on top of his health. It gave him not only access to his health information, but also the necessary tools to be engaged – and truly become a partner in his own care. To learn more, click here.
Within our hospital walls and outside in the community, our patients are partners in their own care. Women’s College Hospital introduced the myHealthRecord portal to help our patients effectively manage their health information.SHOW MORE +
Our patients can access their health summaries and test results, manage appointments and communicate directly with their care teams – all online, on any mobile device including through smartphone and tablet apps. By giving our patients the tools to access their health information, myHealthRecord allows them to be more involved and engaged, and truly become active participants in their own care. Patients are also able to enter their demographic information, which helps us to better understand who we’re serving, allowing us to refine our programs and customize our services to be more culturally appropriate and meet the needs of the diverse population of patients we serve.SHOW LESS +
Together, we’re going so far.
Twelve years ago, Women’s College Hospital and Women’s College Hospital Foundation embarked on what could be our most important mission yet. Newly independent, with a new mandate, new model of care and a strengthened resolve to revolutionize healthcare for women and for all, we looked ahead to the future with courage, tenacity and bold vision.
Since then, with the enduring support of our extraordinary, ever-growing donor community, nearly $130 million has been raised to close gaps and change lives – including $18.9 million in gifts received and in future commitments this past year alone to advance groundbreaking research, clinical care and health system innovations. This incredible wave of generosity is testament to how deeply our community is inspired by the work and mission of our hospital – work that is igniting a brighter future for the health of women, girls and families everywhere.SHOW MORE +
In 2016, to harness this incredible momentum and set the stage for continued growth, the Foundation underwent a comprehensive process to create a new strategic plan. Called A Roadmap to our Future, the plan now guides everything we do as we aspire to be the charity of choice in advancing health for women and the strategic choice for health system solutions. Fuelled by the three core pillars of philanthropy, partnerships and people, our new strategic direction will take us into bold, uncharted territory and see the impact of our donor community deepen as never before.
This is an impact with extraordinary potential. Reaching far beyond the four walls of our institution, the work that we are driving forward together will advance equity, break down barriers and aim to give every woman, child and family the opportunity to thrive.
To all those who are by our side on this journey, we extend our deepest and most heartfelt gratitude. We’re going far, and we’re going together.
President & CEO
Women’s College Hospital Foundation