ICHA is honored that its unique cross-sector work on homelessness, health and housing receives a Future Innovator Award from The Change Foundation

June 22, 2020

Toronto, June 22, 2020 – The Change Foundation has bestowed a Future Innovator Award on Inner City Health Associates (ICHA), connecting healthcare to housing for health.

ICHA Medical Director Dr. Bond  thanked The Change Foundation for recognizing ICHA’s collaborative efforts to address the many and diverse issues that people experiencing homelessness face daily – complex problems at the best of times which  become more daunting for a population with a disproportionately high risk for contracting COVID-19 and suffering worse outcomes. He calls The Change Foundation’s choice a necessary view to the future since homelessness still remains largely on the margins of health system design and delivery.

The awards are given to nominated individuals and/or organizations that The Change Foundation selection committee felt represented critical social or technical innovations with the potential to reshape healthcare in Ontario.  The five categories include caregivers, technological innovations, organizations, cross-sector models, and youth.  ICHA won for the cross-sector category.

Dr. Bond credits ICHA’s members and staff, model of care, and multi-sector partners for making the organization’s early and positive impact possible but underscores the distance and depth of the work yet to come.

“A fundamental cross-sector re-design of the wider community healthcare system has the potential to transform care, not only for people experiencing homelessness, but for millions more who live in precarious housing and with other social deprivations,” said ICHA Medical Director Dr. Andrew Bond.

ICHA’s unique and innovative model of care is virtually networked, outreach oriented, inter-professional and cross sectoral. This approach drives ICHA’s commitments to eliminating barriers to healthcare access and maximizing health impact through the simultaneous deployment of downstream-upstream interventions: caring for the downstream medical needs of clients while working together with intersectoral partners to deliver immediate upstream change on the social determinants of health.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICHA has transformed itself from a physician services organization into a robust interdisciplinary team that now has over 100 doctors and 80 nurses providing care at 55 sites across the city and most recently at COVID-19 recovery isolation centres.

Since April, more than 830 people experiencing homelessness have been supported by ICHA’s interdisciplinary nursing and physician teams, including on-call psychiatry, substance use, and pediatric supports, delivered collaboratively with peer support workers and case managers.  Through a partnership with community health and social support agencies, the hospital sector, and the City of Toronto, ICHA’s teams at the COVID-19 recovery isolation centres provide safety, caring support, dignity, respite and advocacy as they work to transition as many people as possible to housing or further hotels upon discharge.

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) has been instrumental in helping ICHA shift to providing inter-professional care as part of its provincially funded COVID-19 response for people experiencing homelessness. RNAO’s ViaNurse program connected ICHA to the immense numbers of dedicated and inspiring nurses from across the province who answered the call to support people impacted by COVID-19.

Dr. Bond congratulated the other Future Innovator Award recipients, honourable mentions, and all organizations and individuals working to bring social, professional and technical innovations to healthcare in Ontario. He also praised The Change Foundation for its seminal work on the invaluable healthcare improvement contributions made by patients and caregivers – our partners in care.  

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For more information, please contact:  Sine MacKinnon, Director of Communications, ICHA, 647.201.7369. sinemackinnon@gmail.com