Population Health Services
The Population Health Services was launched in the spring of 2020 and developed the COVID Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) program as an emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis in Toronto shelters. Dr. Aaron Orkin, Ontario’s first fellowship-trained clinical population medicine specialist, established and leads this service with a transdisciplinary team of family and population health physicians, data analysts, health promotion, and specialist nursing. The Population Health Services have developed into an essential system resource and tool, serving 144 shelter programs, includes over 4,900 clients, and is positioned to become a transformational service to support ongoing care, immunizations, and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
CARE Program Overview
The COVID Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) program is designed to respond to the complexities and vulnerabilities of people experiencing homelessness (PEH). CARE offers individual and shelter-level COVID prevention and mitigation interventions as well as COVID immunization planning and supports in shelters across Toronto. Using the CARE risk assessment tool, the Population Health Services team works closely with shelter staff to capture clients’ risk distribution and support needs. Shelters are then provided with a customized client report and graphical representation of the shelter population’s COVID risk profile. These resources have been used as a guide for targeted outreach, COVID testing, and immunization planning. The services offered also include working with outbreak sites to develop response plans in partnership with local public health, including mass testing, contact tracing, isolation, and support for COVID positive clients. The Population Health Services offered at the grassroots level have allowed the deployment of this multidisciplinary team and expertise in a broad and distributed way across the homelessness landscape. Shelter leadership are reaching out for this support and we can answer the call.