It’s a warm, sunny day in late May and Dr. Georgina Wilcock, Co-Medical Director for Obstetrics at The Scarborough Hospital (TSH), is preparing for a morning filled with pre-natal examination appointments. Although this may seem routine for an obstetrician, the patients she is seeing, as well as where and how she’s providing their care, are anything but ordinary.
Dr. Wilcock is part of an interprofessional team of health care professionals from TSH who have been partnering with Rosalie Hall – a young parent resource centre next door to the hospital’s General campus – in an effort to help Rosalie Hall provide important health care and social services to this vulnerable group.
“Rosalie Hall and The Scarborough Hospital not only share a common geography, but also a common history,” said Alan Nickell, Executive Director of Rosalie Hall.
“Both of our organizations were built by the religious congregation the Sisters of Misericorde in 1956 who were committed to ensuring access to medical care and support services for their community. Since then, Rosalie Hall has developed a comprehensive range of services for young parents and their children in Scarborough and across Toronto.”
These services include a live-in residence for young mothers with multiple and complex pre-natal needs, a fully-accredited secondary education program, a child development centre, as well as a wide variety of counselling and outreach programs.
Over the years, TSH physicians from various disciplines have provided care to the young mothers and babies at Rosalie Hall and, of course, the hospital is always a place where parents can go for any urgent health care needs. However, about a year ago, Dr. Wilcock reached out to the administration at Rosalie Hall with the idea of providing improved continuity of care through a regular team of TSH staff visiting Rosalie Hall patients.
“Our approach has allowed us to serve Rosalie Hall more as a community and provide holistic care,” said Dr. Wilcock.
“In addition to myself, there are social workers from the hospital, TSH Family Physician Dr. Erin Chan, midwives from Sage-Femmes Midwives in Scarborough and Rosalie’s Registered Nurse. We all work as a team and share feedback to understand the whole patient in their own environment.”
Alan agrees with the critical need for this team approach. “Rosalie Hall also has a community care and treatment team of infant mental health clinicians that includes senior therapists and a psychologist who contribute actively to the inter-professional care. Specialized assessments, treatments and parent-infant group work are critical to infant mental health and parent-infant attachment needs of the population served by Rosalie Hall”.
One of the major initiatives that TSH and Rosalie Hall have put in place is a bi-weekly pre-natal care clinic staffed by Dr. Wilcock. For expectant moms Cici and Ashley, having pre-natal care at Rosalie Hall has been of great benefit to them.
“If I have a question, they are right there, which is very convenient, especially for someone like me who is attending the school,” said 19-year-old Ashley, who attends programs on an outpatient basis.
“It’s great that I can stay right here,” adds Cici, also 19, and who lives in the residential program. “Plus, everyone is very professional and caring.”
Rosalie Hall Registered Nurse Aindrea Kiss echoes their comments.
“For a lot of these young mothers, it can be intimidating to receive their pre-natal care at a doctor’s office; we recognize this and try to provide a very safe and supportive environment,” said Aindrea.
“As well, the pre-natal clinic here offers longer appointments than what obstetricians can often provide in their offices.”
In addition to comprehensive pre-natal care, TSH Social Worker Susan Carty explains that one of the goals is to help the young women “focus on the future.”
“It’s hard enough for anyone who, at a young age needs to find their own housing and be independent, and then, to add a baby to that can be really challenging. So what we do is make that whole medical and social service piece just that much easier.”