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Putting primary care back into the community


Putting primary care back into the community

“When was the last time your family doctor came over to your house and had tea and really understood what was important to you?”

David Price, chair of the department of family medicine, is well aware that family doctors simply can’t do that. “But it’s great to have that kind of information from our patients.”

So he helped create Health TAPESTRY, a program that allows people to share what matters to them with community volunteers, who pass the information along to their health-care team.

The program is one of many innovative research projects led by the family medicine department under the David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative. It brings together the research, education and clinical care expertise of a strong network of primary care leaders.

The research collaborative launched in September through a $4 million investment — seeded by a $1 million contribution by philanthropist David Braley.

Here are some of the projects that the collaborative supports:

Community Paramedicine at Clinic (CP@Clinic), led by Gina Agarwal

What it is: A program for low-income older adults, with the goal of preventing chronic disease, reducing 911 calls and improving seniors’ quality of life and health outcomes.

How it works: Specially trained paramedics hold regular drop-in sessions where seniors live. The paramedics assess health risks and provide tailored education, connecting older adults with their primary care team and community resources.

“Community paramedics were seen as approachable and accessible health care providers who could bridge the gap between emergency departments and family practice,” Agarwal says.

Why it matters: Two randomized controlled trials found CP@clinic to be effective in reducing 911 calls by as much as 20 per cent. The program has also shown to improve quality of life, reduce chronic disease risk and improve connections to primary care.

Impact: After an initial pilot study in Hamilton, and a successful multi-site randomized controlled trial in Ontario, CP@clinic has expanded across Ontario. In 2019, the program received funding from Health Canada to scale up across Canada.

“My hope for CP@clinic is that it will continue to fill the gap for low-income seniors living in social housing so they can lead more empowered and fulfilling lives,” said Agarwal.

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