In April 2020, as COVID-19 cases rose in neighbourhoods like Crescent Town, WoodGreen was contacted by Michael Garron Hospital and other healthcare providers to help with community outreach.
Before the pandemic, WoodGreen had an Inter-Professional Care Team (IPC) in Crescent Town. IPC offers the support of case counsellor specialists working alongside physicians in local clinics.
Our role in the community was long-established, but as cases began to spike during the first lockdown, we pivoted quickly. WoodGreen worked with the East Toronto Health Partners and community groups to create an Advisory Team made up of executives from all the service providers and healthcare practitioners in the area, and a Community Response Team made up of on-the-ground volunteers from each building, agency front-line workers, and operational managers.
“This work led to informational posters in the buildings in multiple languages, the dissemination of 13,000 masks, and spreading the word through personal networks,” said Mohan Doss, Director of Newcomer & Youth Wellness at WoodGreen.
Collaborating with other community service organizations operating in this area, such as Crescent Town Health Centre, Michael Garron Hospital, TNO – The Neighbourhood Organization and South Riverdale Community Health Centre, the Advisory Team and Community Response Team were essential to the success of the interventions in this community. Our team shared critical health information about COVID-19 in multiple languages, supported and hosted the first neighbourhood mobile COVID-19 on-site testing and offered in-home flu shots for homebound seniors.
Food insecurity was also a significant COVID-19 issue. With the help of The WoodGreen Foundation, we distributed grocery gift cards totaling over $60,000 to 1,390 residents or 417 households.
Fast, responsive interventions were an essential practice while addressing this pandemic in our community.
When the vaccines became available in 2021, we worked alongside the East Toronto Health Partners, one of Ontario’s first Ontario Health Teams, to support vaccination rollouts in Crescent Town. With our fellow community health partners, we were able to run pop-up vaccination clinics in the area.
In one two-day period, we were able to administer 2,000 vaccines. This clinic had to come together extremely quickly. Due to the trust developed from our involvement in the community over the years, we were able to organize rapidly with door-to-door information.
“By 4 p.m. the day before a vaccination pop-up clinic opened, all 2,800 units in a Crescent Town building had been given a flyer informing them about the clinic,” said Nadjib Alamyar, Manager of Newcomer Wellness at WoodGreen.
As the lines formed hours before the clinic began, volunteers from WoodGreen and other community partners were keeping the crowds safe and distanced, ensuring everyone fit the criteria and had all the information they needed. Some residents with mobility issues were accommodated and prioritized. There were challenges as some residents were turned away due to a shortage in vaccine supply, but because of the trust that had been built, it was managed.