Meet Emery Potter
Nurse Practitioner, Transition-Related Surgery Program
“What’s really special is our people and our people really care. We look for the gaps and we’re willing to learn and willing to provide leadership in closing those gaps. That’s why our TRS program is so successful and so important.”
Women’s College Hospital understands that Transition-Related Surgery (TRS) is an essential and life-saving service. That’s why we’re proud to be home to the first TRS Program at a publicly funded hospital in Canada. Founded in 2019, the program provides plastic surgery, urology, gynecology and anesthesiology services provided by a compassionate team of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists and social workers.
More than just providing surgeries, our TRS program also promotes better outcomes for the trans community through academic research and medical education. By training and recruiting new residents, surgeons and clinical staff with specialized expertise, we’re building capacity and working to increase access to safe, compassionate surgical care for trans and gender-diverse individuals.
Meet Janelle Noel
Service Coordinator, Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC)
“We’re the only network of sexual assault care centres in the world, and WCH is the central hub for 37 provincial locations, which creates a provincial standard of care no matter where the patient is.”
It’s a shocking statistic: one in three Canadian women experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. What’s more, prior to the opening of our SA/DVCC in 1984, those affected weren’t getting the follow up care they needed to move forward.
Today, the SA/DVCC at Women’s College Hospital is the leading provincial hub for the 37 locations of the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres. As such, it sets the standards of excellence, inclusion and care for community organizations that serve sexual assault and domestic violence survivors across the province and has implemented a groundbreaking model for our province.
We see a way forward for victims of violence.
Meet Cindy White
Elder-in-Residence, Traditional Healer, Ganawishkadawe-Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health
“Our Elders teach us we need to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle, and at WCH that’s what’s happened. There’s been a shift from that boardroom table to a circle, and all people are brought into the circle on equal footing—no matter their background.”
Indigenous Peoples in Canada continue to face obstacles to safe, equitable and accessible healthcare. This is the inevitable result of broad stigma and system-wide discrimination rooted in Canada’s history of colonization and society’s inability to understand Indigenous philosophies, world views and healing practices.
Launched in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, WCH’s Ganawishkadawe-Centre for Wise Practices is making positive and lasting change. The centre is the first hospital-based care centre in Ontario to transform non-Indigenous healthcare spaces by integrating traditional, inclusive practices into the way services are delivered.
The Centre is closing health gaps experienced by Indigenous Peoples by promoting:
- Community-informed education, research and clinical care
- Indigenous-led partnership development with diverse Indigenous communities
- Increased cultural safety across WCH
- Investment in a culturally inclusive physical space
- Advancement of Indigenous knowledge translation and wise practices in patient care within WCH and beyond
The Ganawishkadawe-Centre for Wise Practices is now the inspiration for other healthcare facilities in Canada, and our hope is that Indigenous peoples can now receive the care they deserve that respects their traditions, delivered in spaces that are safe and equitable for all peoples.
Exclusively providing comprehensive medical services for refugees newly arrived in Canada, the Crossroads Clinic is addressing barriers and closing gaps in care that are distinct within the refugee population.
Meet Dr. Aisha Lofters
Medical Director, the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers
“One of the big things with WCH is that it doesn’t matter to me or to the hospital where the people are that we are serving.”
“I’m a family physician but spend most of my time researching cancer screening and prevention, always through an equity lens. I focus on who the people in our system are, where they are, and who might be slipping through the cracks. We know that when you focus on the margins, you are creating a healthcare system that works for everyone.”
One of the big things with WCH is that it doesn’t matter to us where the people are that we are serving; in fact one of our core tenets is that we are here for everyone—not just for the people who walk into our doors. We recognize the importance of leaving our clinics and going into the community so that we can better engage with populations who are not getting screened to an appropriate level.
As a research and teaching hospital, we want our innovations to inform institutions in other provinces and countries—our goal is to test our findings and share them with other healthcare providers. Currently, cancer care isn’t equitable. People who weren’t born here, aren’t wealthy and who live outside urban centres have much lower screening and prevention rates than those who are. We need to change that, and we won’t rest until we see equity for everyone.”
Meet Dr. David Urbach
Head, Department of Surgery
“Here at WCH, our nimbleness, flexibility, and willingness to experiment and innovate is our greatest strength.”
“WCH is the only academic, fully outpatient hospital in Canada and we are a true incubator for system change. Rather than just fill gaps in current needs or increasing capacity, we’re developing programs that change the model of care to be more accessible, equitable and efficient for everyone.
As an example, we demonstrated to the wider healthcare community that you can provide same-day discharge after knee and hip replacements—a huge innovation in addressing capacity backlogs. We’ve demonstrated that you don’t need hospital beds for these types of procedures, which highlights our mandate of improving the way care is delivered both at WCH and at hospitals around the world.
We view our ‘patient’ as the entire population—everyone who needs us, rather than only the people who are able to make it into our clinics. As physicians, this is a huge change in perspective, it focuses us to always think about the entire system and population, about how we can reach the people without equitable system access, which refocuses the way we implement new models of care.”
Meet Dr. Paula Rochon
Founding Director, Women’s Age Lab
“Women’s Age Lab is the only research program in the world offering life-changing perspectives on the health of older women.”
“As a geriatrician who has cared for and researched older women for many years, the differences between women and men’s health have never been more apparent.
Gendered ageism is so prevalent everywhere. For example, in the prescription drug research we do, we know women are more likely to develop side effects or be prescribed inappropriate medications. We know that things such as chronic conditions are more likely to occur as people get older. We also know women are more likely to want to age in place and as a result experience loneliness, the list goes on and on.
The work we do is inspired to impact the delivery of healthcare by highlighting the differences in sex, age, and socio-cultural factors, and help everyone understand the impact these factors have on women’s health.”
Meet Dr. Meb Rashid
Medical Director, Crossroads Clinic for Refugee Health
“Crossroads is the first hospital-based clinic in Toronto that has a mandate to exclusively serve refugee populations—no matter their status.”
“Our primary goal at Crossroads Clinic is to help all people integrate better and enjoy long-term success in Canada and what sets us apart is that we exclusively serve refugees and refugee claimants. As an ambulatory care hospital, we’re uniquely poised to respond to this gap in the primary care system.
In addition to providing excellent clinical care, we’re an academic hospital. That means doctors, student doctors, nurses, social workers, and researchers can study issues and trends pertaining to specific populations, well before they could ever be identified by non-specialized clinics. Advocacy is also important to WCH. We see it as our responsibility to speak up for those who may not be able to use their voice. We know that a combination of clinical care, research and advocacy has a tangible effect on improving the lives of newcomers to Canada.”
Meet Dr. Rulan Parekh
“I am inspired by the position of civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, that ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’.”
“Universal representation is a huge part of our outlook at WCH, it informs everything we do from research to education, implementation, clinical care, and human resources. When young women of colour see us, we want them to feel authentically represented, so that they’ll consider a career in medicine. We want gender diverse populations to feel comfortable receiving care. Our goal is to close the gaps in delivering equitable care for everyone.
When it comes to research, we believe, ‘You shouldn’t conduct research about us, without us.’ The fact is, if you aren’t including women, people of colour and other minority groups (including Indigenous peoples) in your studies, your research will suffer from missing out on a huge percentage of the population. That’s why our work is always focused through a lens of trying to improve healthcare for everyone.”