May 28 COVID-19 Update

2020-05-29 10:51:07 AM

Here at Women’s, we continue to be vigilant in honouring the sacrifices of our front-line workers, including those who have assumed redeployed roles outside of their normal positions and continue to deliver care to patients during this challenging time. We are so grateful for their resiliency and flexibility. We are also incredibly grateful to our donor community that has responded to the need to support and protect our front-line staff. With your generous support, we have protected people in the hospital, Long-Term Care facilities, shelters and at home. Thank You!

Women’s College Hospital has remained open throughout the pandemic. Over the last month, 76% of hospital visits have been virtual visits and every clinic is able to provide services virtually. When necessary, we have gone mobile to reach those who are most in need. We are very proud that many front-line workers at Women’s have been redeployed to support the health and well-being of our community beyond the walls of our hospital - via virtual or mobile COVID-19 Assessment Units, testing and support for our community partners like Kensington Gardens long-term care home, and through initiatives to support those who are underhoused or homeless.

Research is beginning to show how imperative this work is as we learn that COVID-19 is not affecting everyone in the same way. Social determinants of health — gender, culture, socio-economic background and living and working conditions — all have a unique role to play in access to healthcare and the impact of the virus.

We are also seeing that Ontarians who tested positive for the virus are more likely to live in marginalized neighbourhoods with greater concentration of immigrants and visible minorities. Many refugees are particularly vulnerable because they work in the lowest paid yet most highly exposed professions like personal support workers in long-term care settings, as cleaners, cashiers and service workers.

Dr. Meb Rashid, medical director of the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital, Ontario’s only hospital-based refugee healthcare program, recently shared a poignant thought with me: “They are the people who are taking care of us without even knowing if they will get to remain in Canada.” Now more than ever, we need to be supporting this community and helping to keep them safe.

Leveraging the hospital’s revolutionary COVID-19 response tools and services, the Crossroads Clinic is working to do just that. In addition to caring for patients virtually, several weeks ago, mobile COVID-19 assessment units began responding to an urgent need for help to manage outbreaks and perform swabbing at congregate living facilities such as refugee and women’s shelters.

Image of Crossroads COVID team

At one refugee shelter in particular, mobile assessment team members were able to successfully swab 60 residents, discovering that 30 tested positive for COVID-19. With this knowledge, shelter staff swiftly took measures to contain the spread. Patients who required supportive health care were transferred to hospital and those who did not need to be admitted were connected to a healthcare professional via COVID Care@Home for ongoing virtual monitoring as they recovered. Since the outbreak was discovered, shelter staff, with support from Women’s College Hospital, have successfully contained the spread of the virus within their facility. All patients who were hospitalized have been discharged and everyone who tested positive has recovered. No lives were lost.

To learn more about how the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital is breaking down barriers to care and supporting refugees both in their home countries and in Canada, I invite you to watch this inspiring presentation by Dr. Praseedha Janakiram, a family physician at the Crossroads Clinic:

The need to increase testing and enhance supports for congregate living facilities continues to be an essential public health measure in the fight against COVID-19. In order to bring the infection rates down, we must protect those who are most vulnerable and at risk. With appropriate research and information about who is being affected most by the virus, we can continue to deliver appropriate and targeted care both from within the hospital and via essential partnerships in the community.

Even though the worst may have passed, testing and tracking the virus are key components to reopening our lives and economy safely. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone who is in our service area that testing is available on-site at the hospital’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre, and access to our virtual assessment centre is available online here. If you believe you are at risk or have contracted COVID-19, please do not hesitate to connect with a healthcare professional for assessment.

As the weather improves and things begin to return to a new normal, many people will try to put the past few months of social-distancing and the constant need to be on guard behind them. Although some restrictions are relaxing, there is still a need to be vigilant to ensure we hold on to the gains we have all fought for during the past few months. Together, we can continue to make progress in the fight against COVID-19 for ourselves, our families and for those Canadians who are most vulnerable.


Jennifer Bernard, CFRE
President and CEO
Women's College Hospital Foundation


To view our previous updates, please click on the links below: