In less than 15 years, Inner City Health Associates has become the largest homeless health organization in Canada, with 200 physicians and nurses offering Toronto’s homeless and precariously housed population with direct access to high-quality health services.
ICHA provides transitional primary care, psychiatry and palliative care, reaching people on the street and at shelter-based clinics, drop-in sites, encampments, COVID-19 isolation/recovery centres and preventative distancing hotels. ICHA works with shelter providers, community health and social support agencies, hospitals, the City of Toronto, and regional health planners to bring integrated care and support to people who are homeless and precariously housed.
ICHA aims to set the standard of excellence in homeless health service delivery. ICHA is also an educator, advocate and health system innovator, dedicated to addressing deficits in the social determinants of health, to improving individual and population health, and to ending homelessness.
ICHA is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
The COVID-19 Catalyst
The pandemic hastened ICHA’s transformation from a physician-only organization to a multi-professional group of doctors and nurses serving the diverse, often complex, needs of people without a home or secure housing. The change in membership and care model helps ICHA better serve the homeless population which, like other marginalized groups, faces a disproportionately high risk of infection and harm from COVID-19. That shift has helped make ICHA’s COVID-19 response quick, system-focused, collaborative and comprehensive.