My name is Antoinette Wertman. I am a family physician who does primary care, community outreach and ER shifts at North York General Hospital.
My first encounter with an inner-city population occurred in medical school. I did an elective at the SHOUT Clinic which was then located in the Alexandra Park Housing Project. That was followed by separate summer and winter electives in Moose Factory, an Indian Reservation. In 1978, with internship completed, I worked in Kenya at the Tumu Tumu Mission Hospital.
In 2008 my husband I volunteered in Israel with Physicians For Human Rights, an NGO committed to providing health care to anyone in need without regard to citizenship, religion, or race. The group of passionately committed volunteers made a very lasting impression on me. I asked myself "how could I do something like this back home"?
After thirty years of work as a family doctor I decided it was time to to change my focus. I had been providing primary care to the "worried well". Now it was time to provide primary care to the "unworried unwell".
In 2008 North York General Hospital family doctors and psychiatrists were invited to attend an information session given by Vicky Stergiopolous. The goal was to recruit doctors to expand ICHA's work to North York. The seed was planted and in March 2009 the first ICHA clinic opened at the Newtonbrook Taiwanese United Church. The second ICHA clinic opened in December 2009 at Eva's Satellite (a youth harm reduction shelter).
As well as working at the above mentioned clinics, I work in the Primary Care Clinic in the Mental Health Program at NYGH. For the past year I have been a Locum Physician at the Christie Refugee Centre. The current cuts to immigrant healthcare have made working there ever more challenging. I plan to take the experience from all of the clinics with me to Jerusalem in February 2013 where my husband and I will volunteer with an NGO involved in healthcare for marginalized populations.