Collaborative immunization effort helps ensure low-barrier access to COVID-19 vaccine for priority populations in Toronto
(February 23, 2021) Toronto, ON: East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), Mid-West Toronto OHT and North York Toronto Health Partners (NYTP) are undertaking a mobile vaccination pilot that will see the three Ontario Health Teams (OHT) administering COVID-19 vaccines to approximately 500 seniors and health care workers in buildings that contain high-risk congregate seniors settings over three days.
Launching today (Feb. 23), the pilot involves deploying teams of health care workers from the OHTs to three high-risk congregate seniors’ buildings in Toronto. They will go door to door within the buildings to administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents and staff who have pre-registered and granted consent. The three buildings were selected based on the congregate care settings present in the buildings, the amount of health care services delivered in the residences and the large proportion of seniors over the age of 80 years:
- Jack Layton Seniors Housing (1070 Queen Street East)
- St. Matthew’s Bracondale House (707 St. Clair West)
- Seniors Housing Unit Building, Toronto Community Housing (6250 Bathurst Street)
This approach will test out a model of low-barrier access to the COVID-19 vaccine for populations that have been identified as priority groups for first-dose vaccination as part of Phase One of the Ontario government’s vaccine implementation plan. These include staff, residents and caregivers in congregate care settings for seniors. Following the pilot this week, the three OHTs will share lessons learned on how best to efficiently deliver vaccines using mobile teams in similar settings in a manner that maximizes vaccine uptake.
“We understand there is strength in numbers when it comes to ensuring as many of our priority populations receive the COVID-19 vaccine as safely, easily and quickly as possible,” said Sarah Downey, President and CEO at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and a member of ETHP. “That’s why we’re working in collaboration with our partners in East Toronto, other OHTs in the region and Toronto Public Health as part of a mass vaccination effort in alignment with provincial direction as vaccine supply increases across Ontario.”
“The partners of the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team are tremendously excited to support this important COVID-19 vaccination effort,” said Justine Humphries, Senior Director, Partnerships and Strategy at Kensington Health and the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team Secretariat Lead. “This project is in line with our OHT’s mantra that is centred on the belief that if we design a system that works for the most vulnerable in our community, we are creating a system that works for everyone.”
“This pilot will bring the COVID vaccine to seniors at high risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19,” said Dr. Rebecca Stoller, Family Physician with NYTHP and a team lead for Mobile Vaccine Team. “This experience will help us design the most effective approaches to vaccinating as many seniors as possible in North York and across Toronto as vaccination ramps up in the coming weeks.”
The high-risk congregate seniors’ buildings that are part of the mobile vaccination pilot are located within the three OHTs’ catchment areas. The buildings selected also experienced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as outbreaks, and have been identified by the provincial vaccination plan as high priority for vaccination. One of these buildings is operated by WoodGreen Community Services.
“Vaccinating our seniors is a very important step to keep our community safe from COVID-19,” said Anne Babcock, President and CEO of WoodGreen Community Services and a member of ETHP. “We are thrilled to be providing the vaccine to our clients in the comfort of their own home and are proud to join our partners from the East Toronto Health Partners network to support the Ontario government’s vaccine strategy.”
“We know that working to support community readiness and capacity – learning from testing and vaccination efforts, combined with on-the-ground trust and relationships will be a powerful combination as we move forward together,” said Shiran Isaacksz, Vice President, University Health Network. “Through the mobile vaccination teams, #TeamVaccine, we will have the opportunity to bring vaccine to high priority populations and support equitable and accessible vaccine.”
About East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP)
East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, is a group of more than 50 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto working together to create an integrated system of care across our communities. Collectively, ETHP is responsible for providing care and support to the 300,000 individuals who live in East Toronto communities, as well as an additional 75,000 clients who choose to receive health care in the local area. Clients, family members and caregivers are partners in every aspect of the development of ETHP, working together to improve the way East Toronto residents access and receive care. Visit ethp.ca to learn more.
About the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team
On November 18, 2020, the partner organizations of the Mid-West Toronto region were approved to become an Ontario Health Team by the Ministry of Health, marking a significant milestone for patients, clients, families and caregivers in downtown Toronto’s west-end. Since then, health care and community service providers in Mid-West Toronto have been building off our existing partnerships and working to create an OHT that truly serves our communities. We all share the belief that if we design a system the works for the most vulnerable in our community, we are creating a system that works for everyone. Our hope is that, when completed, all patients and clients in the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team region will find it easier to get the care and services they need. For more information, visit www.midwesttorontooht.ca.
About North York Toronto Health Partners (NYTHP)
One of Ontario’s first approved Ontario Health Teams, the North York Toronto Health Partners (NYTHP) is comprised of 21 core partners, over 30 alliance partners, a Patient and Caregiver Health Council and a Primary Care Association which includes over 150 primary care physicians and counting. The shared purpose of the NYTHP is for health care and social care organizations across the continuum to work as one system to improve the health, wellbeing, and experiences of the approximately 500,000 people served by the NYTHP.