The year between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 was filled with great achievements, as well as great challenges. Once again, the staff, volunteers, partners, and community responded to the challenges and ensured that the work of the Centre held a strong focus on health equity, inclusion and areas impacting on the social determinants of health.April to June 2019
In the spring, at the urging of many community partners, the six Ottawa Community Health Centres decided to move ahead with leading an Ontario Health Team in the City of Ottawa. Along with five other Convening partners, and 50+ signatory partners, we submitted a self-readiness assessment which demonstrated our desire to lead and support health system transformation. Our application highlighted our goal of reimagining the way health services and supports would be accessed and delivered throughout the Ottawa region. The underpinning of our application was to support people in leading healthier lives, getting the care they need, in the communities they live.
In late June, we welcomed our new Director of Community and Social Services - Amanda Bonacci. As a seasoned, bilingual health care leader, Amanda eagerly joined the team and hit the ground running. With over 18 years of experience in strategic partnerships, project management, quality improvement and leading cross functional teams, Amanda brought new energy and ideas to the senior leadership team.July to September
While summer months tend to hold fewer meetings and events, this past year was a busy time for the Centre. We were chosen by the Ministry of Health to go to full proposal for the Ottawa Health Team/Équipe Santé Ottawa. We launched full steam ahead with stakeholder meetings and visioning of what could be different in our local health care system. At the same time as planning for our year one initial populations, we continued learning about system transformation and building relationships with partners in health, mental health and addictions, and community support.
In late July, we hosted our last ever SEOCHC Charity Golf tournament with Whispers Pub & Eatery. We had full registration, a beautiful day and raised over $14,000 to support youth programs at the Centre. We are very grateful to Paul and Tracy from Whispers for all their efforts over the years to support children and youth in our community. This would also be the last event for our Communications & Resource Development staff Suzanne O’Byrne who in less than seven years raised over $125,000 for SEOCHC and we are grateful for her dedication and years of service.
Over the summer, we also experienced a significant shift in our service for families with children aged 0 – 6 years old as we said goodbye to the Better Beginnings, Better Future (BBBF) program, and hello to the new EarlyON Child and Family Centre programming. With the changes in funding, and consequently, program offerings, we also said goodbye to long term staff that had dedicated 25+ years to the children and families of the BBBF neighbourhoods. There is no doubt that these individuals and the BBBF team left an indelible mark on the lives of thousands of children in our community. It was a difficult time and transition for everyone, and we are grateful for the contributions and dedication of this staff, which made a difference in the lives of children and their families.
Another major transition in the early fall was the switch in our electronic medical record from Nightingale on Demand to Telus PS Suites. After weeks of cleaning up files, staff training and preparing computer systems, we made the change on September 16th. It took some time for everyone to get accustomed with the new system, but staff continued to provide exceptional service to clients while learning how to record information in a new system.October to December
In the fall, we created a new position in the Centre to assist with ensuring that we were operating at maximum efficiency, providing quality care while at the same time preparing for health system transformation. In late October, Emma Sobel joined the Senior Leadership Team as the Manager of Organizational Effectiveness, and immersed herself in learning about the organization and creating processes for staff input into changes. In a few short months, Emma made great strides in strategic and operational planning.
At the same time, the Board of Directors decided to sunset the Community Relations Committee and the Program Consulting Committee, and launch the Equity and Advocacy Committee. This new committee was tasked with reflecting on current issues, strategies, and initiatives related to human rights, equality and advocacy that may have an impact on the Centre. The Committee also has a mandate to provide guidance and advice on advocacy initiatives and communications to support the Centre in its operations and efforts to promote diversity, health equity and social inclusion.January to March 2020
With the onset of the new year, no one could have predicted the challenges that lay ahead for our community. At the time, our centre was busy adjusting to new staff, a new EMR and planning new directions for the organization. Furthermore, we were also contributing to health care transformation under the OHT with the goal of simplifying the system, and improving health care for everyone. As Covid-19 became a greater threat and in mid-March when the province ordered shut downs, our staff continued to go to work. Day in and day out they continued to provide service to our most vulnerable clients (albeit in a different way), and they pivoted from their normal duties to ensure that our clients had access to the essentials – food, counselling and connections. It was no surprise that our staff rose to meet the crisis head on, and we could not be more proud of our people and the work that they do.
In the days and months that have followed and as the COVID-19 crisis continues, we are proud of the work we have done with our community and with our partners. We are committed to health equity and ensuring that those most significantly impacted are the focus of our time and resources.
South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre works with the diverse community of South-East Ottawa and with partners throughout the region to provide and advocate for integrated, holistic primary health care, social services, community development and health promotion. Our objectives are to:
We envision a community that works together to ensure a safe, just and healthy life for all where everyone matters.
PRESIDENT Cathy Munroe
VICE-PRESIDENT Amisha Agarwal
VICE-PRESIDENT Tim Hutchinson
SECRETARY / TREASURER Brian Wade
MEMBER-AT-LARGE Charles Ng
BOARD DIRECTORS Ijeoma Udechukwu Fowsia Abdulkhadir Ahmed Hussein Chloé G. Healy Dawn Sheppard Patrick Baker Husne Ara Sultana
What would you do if you landed in a new country, on your own and nothing turned out the way you expected? What would you do if you felt hopeless and alone? Our Community Connections staff are compassionate and skilled systems navigators that support clients with all issues related to immigration and settlement. They are often a first stop for newcomers who are struggling with many challenges. And they are a mechanism for connecting to supports at the Centre and in the community. This past year, they shared one of many success stories. This is the story of an elderly lady from Africa who claimed refugee status in Canada. She followed the claim process, but after an initial assessment, a formal hearing and an appeal, her claim was rejected. The applicant was devastated by this and confused about what to do next. At the same time, her Interim Federal Health medical coverage expired and she was not receiving any financial income or help. It was quite evident that the client was facing several challenges. When she did not know what to do, she went to the Centre seeking support.
The Community Connections staff were able to help her. They processed her request and carried out interventions that improved the situation. They advocated on her behalf and referred her to SEOCHC’s primary health care team. The team welcomed the client and provided medical care to her. The staff also introduced her to an immigration lawyer at Ottawa Community Legal Services (OCLS). With the immigration lawyer’s help, the client applied for permanent residence. Her application mentioned compassionate and humanitarian considerations. The SEOCHC staff worked with the immigration lawyer to review the client’s case and they helped her receive social assistance. And because this situation was very stressful for her the staff provided interpretation support and found her culturally competent counselling. Because of all of this, she was not alone in dealing with her complex and life limiting problems.
The client’s claim has not yet been resolved but she feels supported and hopeful that her immigration status will be approved. She has thanked SEOCHC and OCLS for their compassionate support and skilled intervention. She reports that her well-being has improved. The approach to care in the Community Connections program is based on partnerships. There is a partnership between the client and the providers. There is a partnership between teams at SEOCHC and between partner agencies. Because of compassionate listening, trust and collaboration, there were good outcomes in the client’s care.
We achieve success by ensuring that the client’s goals are paramount. We also ensure that every member of the team focuses on their area of expertise. As well, there is open communication throughout the process. These have been hallmark of the Community Connections program for over 20 years.
SEOCHC has many services that try to support clients in improving their overall health and well-being. Using the HealthLinks approach, our staff work with clients to ensure that they are getting the right care at the right time to help achieve their goals. Morgan shared her experience with Healthlinks.
I was first introduced to HealthLinks on my third try at Healthcare Connect. I had been looking for a family doctor for seven years and was slowly giving up. Due to my financial situation, my health was failing. I was living on a minimal income and couldn’t afford a phone. Every time I would try to get help, I would not only run into stereotypes, and racism, but also social-economic conflicts due to my lack of technology. No phone, no healthcare. I couldn’t get any help anywhere. As an Indigenous woman, I had faced repeated racism from healthcare providers. When I would try to explain my situation, the first assumption was that I was lying. The next assumption was that I deserved ill-treatment because I must be living with addictions. I do not drink, smoke, or do any drugs. I was having repeated problems with financial security and ongoing issues with my housing as the landlord was refusing to uphold their no smoking policy. Second-hand smoke was affecting my health and increasing my breathing problems. Heathlinks swept in (I swear they were wearing a cape and big S for “Super” on their chest).
The difference was immediate substantiation. Healthlinks put me in contact with healthcare, and they lobbied for me to get help right away.
Immediately I was getting a visit from a Nurse Practitioner (NP) who made a significant difference in my life. Until that point, I had been four years on a waiting list for community nursing care at the local organization. The NP got me on medication right away, which I believe saved my life. Due to high blood pressure, I was dizzy, dropping things and falling, right in line for a stroke and without the phone, that would have been a death sentence. The NP went on to help me find a doctor. Staff then helped me with my housing by setting up meetings and collaborating with other local agencies. Where I was previously ignored, the Healthlinks approach supported my voice. I was well on my way to a solution for my healthcare concerns. Healthlinks worked for me, and it worked for the benefit of all. I am truly thankful to the Healthlinks team that assisted me. The personal approach worked not only for the person needing help but also for the people working to help. It saved time and money across the board. I look forward to the new healthcare system being developed to include a more client-centred approach.