Emergency department visit at Christmas

By Kris Scheuer
(Written for St. Joseph Health Centre’s 2010/11 Annual Report.)

It’s not the way the Johnson-Walker family planned to spend their Christmas Day – in the Emergency Department with their six-year-old daughter Matilda.
On December 25, 2010, Gala Johnson, her husband Scott Walker and their children Alex and Matilda took a walk in High Park, which the family does often after brunch. But their Christmas Day took an unexpected turn for the worse when Matilda fell and got a cut above her right eyebrow exposing part of her skull with a wound that was bleeding heavily.
The Bloor West Village family already had a relationship with St. Joseph’s Health Centre for previous treatments of Alex’s broken arm and Scott had his appendix removed. Experiences that all left a positive impression on them. So when it came time to make a quick decision on where to take Matilda they felt confident in going to the Emergency Department at St. Joe’s. Continue reading

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Free lunch on the city

City of Toronto pays for student nutrition
By Kris Scheuer
(News article written for Town Crier April 27/09.)

Almost 100,000 students will be getting free meals thanks to the city.
City Hall already kicks in $2.79 million annually to feed over 90,000 students in 365 schools as part of a student nutrition program, said Toronto Public Health’s Jann Houston.
As part of the recently approved $8.7 billion operating budget, it approved an additional $400,000 to fund an additional 44 programs to help another 8,791 youth and children, Houston said.
From Budget Chief Shelley Carroll’s perspective the service is needed even more during current economic climes.
“It really goes along with dealing with the rising welfare case load,” the Don Valley East councillor said. “There are families (on welfare) and this is one meal they can’t afford.
“This is a very targeted approach to hunger.” Continue reading

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East York hospital physio clinic closing

TEGH physio outpatient clinic shutting down
Province doesn’t fund this physiotherapy service, hospital can’t afford it
By Kris Scheuer
(News article written Sept 11/2010 for Town Crier.)

TEGH physiotherapist Damian Wyard talks to his patient Salza Khakoo about the closing clinic. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

East York resident Salza Khakoo is waiting for knee replacement surgery and currently qualifies for free pre-op physiotherapy at Toronto East General Hospital.
However, that will end April 1 when the hospital closes its outpatient physio clinic.
“I got a letter saying that physio would no longer be offered and a list of OHIP clinics, which I don’t qualify for,” said Khakoo at a March 9 community meeting on the issue. “I can’t work anymore because of knee issues.”
Khakoo currently receives two hours of physiotherapy a week for her knee at the hospital and is on a wait list for knee surgery. She doesn’t have health coverage for physiotherapy and also doesn’t qualify for physio under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.
The provincial government de-listed physiotherapy from publicly funded medical services under OHIP in 2005 and only pays for physio in specific circumstances including if the person is under 20, over 65, on welfare, living in a long term care facility.
Toronto East General continued to offered free physio for some of its outpatients including Khakoo even though she doesn’t fall within any of the OHIP requirements.
And she’s not alone.  Continue reading

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TTC’s bad sell on bus reductions

Commission to reduce service on Toronto buses
But TTC failed to relay good news of service improvements
By Kris Scheuer
(Column written for Town Crier Feb 4/11.)

The TTC is off track, as only the bad news is catching our attention while the good news goes unnoticed.
First the bad news.
The TTC’s gotten negative press recently because pedestrians have died in accidents involving TTC vehicles, drivers have been caught texting behind the wheel, a fare increase was announced then cancelled, and then came the decision to reduce service on dozens of bus routes.
Let’s rewind here.
On Jan. 1, 2011 Mayor Rob Ford fulfilled a key election promise to cancel the hugely unpopular car tax, which added $64 million to the city’s budget woes but placed $60 annually back in drivers’ pockets. Then on Jan. 10, Ford announced a 10-cent TTC fare hike to raise $24 million to balance the commission’s budget. When you did the math, it turned out that Metropass holders, like me, would pay exactly $60 more a year while drivers would pay $60 less.
Not good optics, right?
So a day later, TTC chair Karen Stintz announced the fare hike was nixed, as the city would chip in $16 million more for the budget and $8 million can be cut throughout the year.
Good news, right?
But there’s a separate plan to reduce hours on 48 bus routes during slow ridership times. Continue reading

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Family medicine interprofessional team focuses on whole health

By Kris Scheuer
(Written for St. Joseph’s Health Centre for Hospital News March/12.)

St. Joe's Urban Family Health Team site, located at 27 Roncesvalles Ave in the smaller light brown building in the centre, is just two blocks from the hospital. Photo by Roger Harris/SJHC.

St.  Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto offers an interprofessional team-based approach to patient care focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.

In 2007, St. Joseph’s Family Medicine Centre (FMC) located inside the hospital expanded to become the Urban Family Health Team (UFHT) with the second site opening one block away in a community setting. The team includes almost two dozen, part-time, primary care physicians serving the community in South-West Toronto who don’t already have an existing family doctor. The team also consists of a primary care nurse practitioner, dietitian, social worker, pharmacist, patient education specialist, community mental health worker, clerical staff, nursing team and a coordinator. As well, Family Medicine residents and learners from multiple professions, including nursing and pharmacy, also support the team to provide comprehensive care to our patients.

Out of these two sites the FMC/UFHT has a combined 24,000 patient visits annually, explains Patient Care Manager Alejandra Priego. “This interprofessional team approach creates great opportunities for enhanced care and ongoing learning both for our patients and the providers. It is meant to enrich the quality of care we provide.” Continue reading

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E-Health at Toronto East General

East York hospital launches electronic health records
Patient records go digital, phasing out handwritten charts
By Kris Scheuer
(News article written for Town Crier Dec/2010)

Dr. Pieter Jugovic uses the new electronic patient record software on a mobile hospital computer. Photo courtesy of Toronto East General Hospital.

Deciphering illegible handwriting will be all but eliminated at Toronto East General Hospital thanks to a new electronic health record system.
This is themain benefit of having over 80 percent of all health records and medicine orders available electronically rather than handwritten, say TEGH staff.
“No more bad doctor handwriting,” Dr. Pieter Jugovic tells the Town Crier during a demonstration of two new programs, Computerized Provider Order Entry and Electronic Medication Administration Record. In the past when a doctor wrote a prescription it was possible for pharmacists to misread the dosage and fill the order incorrectly. Now, info is inputed into the computer and in-house pharmacists can access prescriptions electronically. But that’s just the start.

Continue reading

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What to recycle, trash in Toronto

City launching new online tool to answer questions
Type in your item and find out what goes in blue bin, organics and garbage
By Kris Scheuer
(Blog entry originally written Dec/22/2009)

Blue BinGarbage BinGreen Bin

I write about garbage, recycling and organics. A lot.
I have dug through rotting trash for stories to find out why people in Toronto still put so much garbage at the curb. And I am still confused at times about what can be recycled and what has to be trashed.
To make the whole mess simpler, the city has launched a new web search tool. See it for yourself.
Let’s pick five items as examples: cooking oil, human hair, TV, dental floss and plastic bags.According to the city,  you should not pour cooking oil down the sink, drain or toilet as it messes with the sewer system. Instead, take it to a waste depot or freeze it so it is solid and then put it out with organics in the green bin.
Human or pet hair should go into the garbage.
Televisions can be placed out on garbage night beside your bin and is collected separately by the city or you can drop them off at a recycling and waste depot. The city aims to sell them, if they are in good working order, at reuse centres.
Dental floss – trash it.
Retail plastic bags can be recycled in the blue bin (if you are not reusing it or better yet avoid them and use cloth bags instead).
Whereas, right now plastic bags used for milk, frozen vegetables, bubble wrap, etc are not recycled and go in the garbage.
Check the site out for yourself. If you can not find the answer ’cause the item you search for is not on the city’s database list, you can click on feedback and ask them to add it to the list with an answer. Or call 311 and ask. Good luck.

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Flemingdon Food Bank’s new home

Basement space cheaper than plaza location but less visible
By Kris Scheuer 
(News article written Oct. 23, 2009 for Town Crier.)

Flemingdon Food Bank volunteer Betsy Wu helps ease the burden on families in need. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

After being kicked out of the Flemingdon Plaza, the Flemingdon Food Bank is getting back on its feet in a new home.
As a result of revitalization at the plaza, the food bank moved to the basement of the Flemingdon Health Centre at 10 Gateway Blvd.
“They terminated our lease,” said Helena-Rose Houldcroft, interim director of the food bank. “They were moving everyone out.
“We got notice at the end of March, and had April and May to get out.”There isn’t a lot of commercial space for rent, she said, adding the health centre was available and nearby.
Every month, the food bank services about 2,000 adults and children, mostly new immigrants or refugees who live in Flemingdon or Thorncliffe. They come once a month to access about three days worth of food.
Though Houldcroft’s happy the food bank found another home, the location is not ideal.
Because it’s a basement space, it’s not as visible as the previous storefront at the plaza, she said.  Continue reading

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Toronto the good, bad and smelly

Evidence from garbage strike is we still have long way to go in conservation quest
Column by Kris Scheuer
(Originally written July 17, 2009 as a column for Town Crier.)

View from Christie Pits dump July 5/09. Town Crier photo.

Conservation and consumption.
There’s both goodnews and a shocking reality check when it comes to how much we conserve and consume in Toronto.
We are becoming more aware of ways we can cut back on our use of everything from energy to plastic bags.
But on the other hand, the garbage strike that hit the city at midnight June 22 made it oh so obvious that we are still producing far too much waste.
While it’s true that as the clock struck midnight, it had been two weeks since the last regularly scheduled garbage pickup for some folks, there were already reports of people illegally dumping waste in parks like Christie Pits on day 1 of the strike.I didn’t personally see waste piled up when I was at the park at Christie and Bloor that day, but I do vividly recall hundreds upon hundreds of black trash bags dumped in the “pit” during the 2002 garbage strike. The stench was incredible.

Continue reading

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City to sell its million dollar beachfront housing

By Kris Scheuer
(News article published June 18/09 for the Town Crier newspaper.)

Toronto Community Housing is looking to sell this million-dollar beachfront property. Photos by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

For those who always dreamed of owning a cottage on the lake, the opportunity may be closer than you imagined.
The city plans to sell a handful of Kew Beach waterfront homes that are too costly to repair. The properties at 3, 5, 7 and 9 Hubbard Blvd. are owned by Toronto Community Housing and are on prime real estate facing Lake Ontario and Kew-Balmy Beach.
“TCH conducted a comprehensive review of our housing stock,” says communityhousing spokesperson Kyle Rooks.
“The goal was to see the best way to invest scarce resources to ensure quality housing is given to our tenants.”
The Real Estate Asset Investment Strategy was completed in December and recommended selling 45 homes and three buildings with 326 apartments. Before that proceeds, an implementation plan will go to the housing board in July and then needs city council approval.  Continue reading

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