#OneEastToronto shares the faces of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), a group of more than 50 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto, as well as patient and caregiver advisors, working together to improve the way people find and get care.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week (April 24 to 30), meet Razia Rashed, a volunteer patient advisor.
“I’ve lived in Crescent Town for more than 16 years. My parents live here, my in-laws live here – we’re surrounded by friends and family. My network has grown even more since I became a volunteer community ambassador of TNO – The Neighborhood Organization at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of this role, I work with other volunteers and community ambassadors from TNO, WoodGreen Community Services, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, Bangladeshi Canadian Community Services, The Neighbourhood Group and others to collaboratively share the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, including access to testing and vaccines. This helps protect community members against the virus. I also assist people who are homebound by connecting them with Toronto Public Health and Michael Garron Hospital’s homebound vaccination team.
Throughout my life, I have always contributed to my community in any way I can. This has included participating in parent councils, volunteering at CultureLink and making connections with local city councillors to share community needs and more. During the pandemic, I’ve been able to leverage these relationships to help ensure everyone in our community has the information they need to stay safe and healthy.
This work has extended to grassroots groups, like the Taylor-Massey and Oakridge Community Response Team. As part of this group, myself, other community members and various social services agencies share helpful information about local health and social services. We also help people who have tested positive for COVID-19 by connecting them with things that make self-isolation easier, like masks, grocery delivery and other supports. We are also able to connect people with Don Valley Community Legal Services if they need help with rent arrears and eviction notices.
The East Effort COVID-19 Response Project led by Flemingdon Health Centre, South Riverdale Community Health Centre’s Harmony Hall Seniors Active Living Centres and local religious leaders provide additional support where needed. Through our combined efforts and inter-agency collaborative approach, we are able to help people of various ages with various needs.
Last year, I joined the Taylor-Massey Residents Wellness Council and the steering committee from ETHP that is leading the work to develop a primary care hub in the neighbourhood. The Taylor-Massey Residents Wellness Council is made up of people from different pockets of the area with a diverse range of experiences who share their experiences with the healthcare and social services system. This helps ensure that any models of care or services that are introduced make sense for the local community. The council also consults on the governance model of this primary care hub to help ensure accountability to the community.
There are many people in Taylor-Massey, and Crescent Town in particular, who do not have a family doctor. There are also social determinants of health, like income, education and food insecurity, that affect their well-being. Having a primary care centre in the neighbourhood would help connect more people with a family doctor who is close to home so they have somewhere to go when they have health concerns. We are hoping to have a hub where combined primary care and social services in a way that is client- and resident-centred. This helps people stay healthier for longer and keeps them out of hospitals. We want this to be a place that provides health services in a dignified way to the community.
It’s really meaningful that people like me who live in Taylor-Massey are so involved in this work. I’ve learned so much about how healthcare and social services work from both the provider and patient perspective. As a person with a visible disability, I also think it’s important for people to see that anyone can be involved in this work and advocate for the needs of their friends, family, neighbours and community as a whole. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of these efforts. Being able to help others gives me a sense of accomplishment.”