MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & BOARD CHAIRPERSON
This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of SWCHC. From humble beginnings on Rochester Street to the multiservice, multisite organization we are today, we have grown with and because of our community. SWCHC has a proud history of responding to the needs of our community, especially in a crisis. When then-Mayor Marion Dewar decided to welcome Vietnamese refugees to Ottawa in 1979, SWCHC worked with a network of agencies to realize this objective. Our board, the leadership team, and staff faced the ongoing challenges of the last few years with the same guts and determination that SWCHC has shown over the years.
One of the year's highlights was the exemplary report from the Canadian Centre for Accreditation (CCA) that compared SWCHC to a set of good practice standards. The accreditors were laudatory, recognizing excellence in governance, quality and risk management, volunteers, advocacy, public education, partnerships, resource management and community-based primary care. The accreditor's commented that SWCHC has "a culture of reaching out to each other and working together to meet client needs." Kudos to everyone involved.
This year we began our path to post-pandemic recovery with our teams continuing to balance the needs for in-person programming while also accommodating the demand for virtual services. For example, it felt good to see Yet Keen Senior's Centre reopen its door at its renovated home in the Dalhousie Community Centre.
COVID-19 brought fast-moving and unexpected impacts on our most marginalized communities and left many social and health services unprepared. Somerset West Community Health Centres stepped up to develop and deliver programs to fill these gaps. Many of the initiatives designed during the pandemic addressed long-term systemic equity issues and need to continue in our communities. We intend to continue working with our community to build resilience and seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 disruption to advantage by seeking sustainable funding for these programs.
We examined many of these issues during this year's strategic planning exercise. We heard the need to focus on staff wellness, equity, diversity and inclusion, mental health, infrastructure and partnerships. Thanks to all that participated for their candour.
We want to thank our Councillors Catherine McKenney and Jeff Leiper, Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Local Integration Partnership, the Ottawa Health Team and our many partners. We would also like to thank the City of Ottawa, Ontario Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Fund, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, United Way, and the Ottawa Community Foundation for providing funds to respond to our communities' needs.
We are looking forward to continued success in 2022/2023, working with our community, partners, the Ottawa Health Team, the City of Ottawa, city councillors, and elected officials to develop our "build back better" agenda.
Naini Cloutier, Executive Director, and Jennifer Hartell, Chairperson
WITH THANKS TO OUR VOLUNTEERS & STUDENTS
SWCHC is grateful for the students and volunteers who helped make our programming possible this year. We were fortunate to host a total of 40 student placements across our departments in 2021.
Volunteers helped us reduce isolation and increase social connection by facilitating ESL Conversation Circles, conducting Seniors and Primary Care Phone Outreach, and creating technical support resources related to virtual platforms – amongst many other contributions.
As we continued to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic:
376 volunteers contributed over 7,700 hours towards supporting our mission.
Volunteers promoted food security by delivering over 20,000 meals.
Almost 200 income tax returns were prepared by volunteers.
Volunteers dedicated 70 hours towards supporting the Anti-Racism Community Initiative.
An incredible 1,460 hours were contributed by 40 peers through the Needle Exchange Safer Inhalation (NESI) Peer Program.
Volunteers registered 160 clients for the Christmas Exchange.
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
One of the most exciting developments in Primary Care this year was the launch of several Electronic Medical Records tools, thanks to funding secured by the Alliance for Healthier Communities. These tools will both improve the client experience and create efficiencies.. Our Primary Health Care team has successfully launched e-referrals, secure client messaging, online appointment bookings, and automated appointment reminders.
By the Numbers:
SWCHC provided nearly 1,700 COVID-19 vaccines and counting through our on-site, mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics.
Our COVID testing team navigated multiple waves of the pandemic while completing more than 2,100 tests.
The small but mighty team of 3 in Obstetrics provided care for 94 women, including post-natal and breastfeeding/lactation support.
Our dietitian-led Buns in the Oven program supported over 80 women, with an increase in program interest since it began being offered virtually during the pandemic.
“A client arrived really wanting to get pregnant (she had a miscarriage in 2017). All her physical ailments were remedied through SWCHC, and she was fully immunized over the past few years. She became pregnant in July 2021 and recently delivered a healthy baby girl in April 2022.” - SWCHC Staff Member
CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES
Our Children and Family Services team used a hybrid approach to continue providing services to our community. Notably, Headstart programs continued to serve families in-person during the ongoing pandemic. This required a great deal of continuous adjusting to changing responsibilities and rules in order to meet public health guidelines, while still being responsible for the typical day-to-day duties of childcare.
By the Numbers:
More than 440 individuals participated in Story Walks, respecting social distancing while giving community members an opportunity to safely come together for an outdoor activity.
After-school programs served 42 children, continuing to engage participants and their families even while in-person programming was closed.
Our EarlyON programs saw a total of 10,180 encounters/visits, serving 838 children and 732 parents/caregivers through a mixture of in-person and online programs.
Our Lung Health team is growing, having received additional funding to add three permanent staff members to our team. These additional Respiratory Therapists will help us continue serving a complex and vulnerable client population, enabling more community members to live safely whether in a community setting or at home. The growth of the Lung Health program will allow our staff to engage more with community partners and clients while continuing to offer the highest quality of education, training, and patient care.
A new partnership with a family health team in Orleans is increasing access to primary care-based lung health services for people with COPD in the east end of the city. We have also partnered with Best Care to deliver evidenced-based lung health care defined by provincial and national guideline standards to treat COPD and asthma.
By the Numbers:
The Complex Respiratory Care team provided training to 106 community agency staff including PSWs, nursing staff, and attendants.
More than 370 clients were served through 385 outreach visits.
The Lung Health program has resulted in an 83% decrease in hospitalizations as well as a 67% reduction in Emergency Department visits and 66% decrease in visits to primary care providers.
MENTAL HEALTH & COUNSELLING
The Mental Health and Counselling (MH & C) team continued to offer counselling, crisis and practical assistance, and wellness groups, through a hybrid approach to service, with a particular focus on growing and sustaining culturally centered and culturally affirming services. MH & C Services founded during COVID such as virtual groups for Chinese and Vietnamese Seniors, the Mental Health and Social Service Phone Line, and the African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) mental health and support services, all continued to serve community members City-wide. We also continued to collaborate with other organizations to provide same-day or next-day counselling sessions through Counselling connect.
By the Numbers:
Our ACB Support Phone Line received an average of 65 calls monthly, connecting community members to resource navigation, advocacy, counselling, crisis and wellness services. This year a partnership with Agricola Cooperative Farm’s Solidarity Share ensured weekly deliveries of fresh vegetables to 30 families.
More than 2,500 interactions with over 500 unique community members through the MH & Social Services Phone Line
192 Seniors served through our virtual wellness group programming for Chinese, Vietnamese and ACB Communities
Over 2,800 counselling sessions provided
Over 140 community members participated in two virtual celebrations to recognize the Lunar New Year
Our Consumption & Treatment Service (CTS) completed extensive renovations during the summer months, constructing new self-enclosed consumption booths/isolation spaces for clients who need to use alone due to COVID-19 or other reasons. The CTS temporarily operated in the outdoor courtyard to facilitate this construction.
We were grateful to receive a year-long extension to funding for our critical Drug Overdose Prevention & Education (DOPE) initiative through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program. DOPE provides peer-based outreach during non-traditional hours in the Somerset West, Carlington and Centretown catchment areas. A key focus of the program in the coming year will be expanding our reach to include more BIPOC clients and staff.
By the Numbers:
Our Harm Reduction department had a total of 34,026 total client interactions across our various services.
Our Consumption and Treatment Site saw 486 unique individuals, 8,930 visits and reversed 515 overdoses.
Our outreach services had 20,268 contacts with community members which included crisis response, overdose prevention and response, transportation, community clean-ups and gear distribution. Outreach teams include our Needle Exchange and Safe Inhalation Program, Drug Overdose Prevention and Education and Homeless Crisis Outreach.
In collaboration with our food security partners, harm reduction staff distributed a total of 18,412 meals.
“This place has saved many lives including mine and people who are cared for. This place, Somerset West, has done a lot for me. It would take hours to explain it all, but thank you… Keep up the fantastic work.” – Harm Reduction client
2021 saw some major changes for our Community Engagement team, including big moves! The Yet Keen Seniors’ Day Centre moved into its new location at 755 Somerset St. W. while Rochester Community House relocated to 865 Gladstone. Yet Keen also began participating in the Links2Wellbeing Social Prescribing for Older Adults Project, formalizing the referral process from SWCHC’s primary health care team to Yet Keen. There is potential to expand the initiative to receive referrals from other Community Health Centres as well in the future.
By the Numbers:
Yet Keen had attendance of 10,900 for its 2021 programming, which remained primarily virtual due to the pandemic.
Rochester Community House reached out to 913 families for community wellness checks in January and February of this year.
The community house distributed 2,592 rapid antigen COVID test kits through our breakfast program and community partners.
19 community members came together to develop an anti-racism community-based work plan.
“SWCHC is a trusted community health centre that values equity, diversity, caring and inclusion. It supports groups facing barriers to enjoy the best possible health and well- being outcomes. SWCHC’s Yet Keen Seniors’ Day Centre is a true hub for Chinese-Canadian seniors, having served the unique needs of this community for more than 35 years… I strongly believe in SWCHC’s community relationships and their ability to effectively plan and execute programming, having worked in partnership with the organization on many prior initiatives." - Councillor Catherine McKenney, Somerset Ward
OTTAWA NEWCOMER HEALTH CENTRE
The Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre saw unprecedented demand this year, continuing to pivot in response to public health guidelines and ensure continuation of services during COVID-19. The pandemic has shone a light on the lack of primary care access for newcomers, refugees, and immigrants in our community – with a large wave of refugees arriving in Ottawa when borders reopened.
ONHC mounted a strong COVID vaccination campaign in partnership with Ottawa Public Health, printing flyers in numerous languages as well as conducting door-to-door outreach, holding pop-up vaccine clinics, and creating Whatsapp groups to share information. The Globe and Mail featured ONHC Outreach Worker Frederic Buyana in an article about vaccine uptake for children.
By the Numbers:
The Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre served 1,164 newcomer and refugee clients as of April 2022, who would not otherwise have access to primary health care. This includes 300 clients who arrived in previous years but have been unable to connect with a primary care practitioner.
ONHC’s current capacity is to provide 4,704 hours of primary care each year. We are seeking additional funding to address a the 500 clients awaiting their Initial Medical Assessments.
1,095 Government-Assisted Refugees arrived in Ottawa between June 2021 and April 2022.
“Somerset West has been of great help in navigating our new journey in Canada. Firstly, when we arrived in Canada, we were able to get necessary vaccinations and prescriptions through the Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre at Argyle street. Since we had just arrived, there were a lot of challenges but, through Somerset West, we were able to receive individual emotional therapy. Lastly, because of the prolonged PTSD, one of us adopted the habit of smoking but was able to quit through SWCHC’s smoking cessation program, and now it's been 4 months since they quit. All in all, with the care and support from the health care providers at Somerset West, we are on the right track to success. Thank you.” - ONHC client
OTTAWA BLACK MENTAL HEALTH COALITION
SWCHC proudly supports the coordination of the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition. The Coalition, aims to hold health system leaders accountable to ensuring safe, accessible and culturally appropriate mental health programs and services for the African, Caribbean, Black (ACB) community in Ottawa. The 2021-2022 year saw the Coalition lead a number of critical initiatives, culminating in Black Mental Health Week between March 1st and 7th of this year.
By the Numbers:
The Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition is comprised of 20+ member organizations.
A total of 14 OBMHC partners came together to run 14 events over the course of Black Mental health Week.
SWCHC was one of three OBMHC partner organizations that provided 1,004 ACB community members with free counselling services through the CounsellingConnect portal last year.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
“I don't run out of needles or go hungry. It’s nice you guys come by and to be thought about… Someone is thinking about us. It was good that you gave me the opportunity to get rid of used needles and keep my place clean.”
“I received some baby stuff including the bed or crib. We got these support at the very crucial time and it brought a lot of encouragement to us… My family is indeed highly grateful to everyone of you. Keep your wonderful customers care service growing.”
“(I’m) starting to organize my life. I’m now living in an apartment and making plans for my future instead of chasing money and dope all day, every day. I have a greater sense of purpose. Harm reduction workers gave me the benefit of the doubt and listened when I needed it most. I never felt judged and like how they understood a lot of what I was going through.”
“I need help, I can’t do that by myself. You helped me with everything I needed, every time I needed it."
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jennifer Hartell, Chair
Iman Mohamed, Vice Chair
Francis Nolan-Poupart, Treasurer
Ryan Seid, Secretary
Kadeen Morris (resigned 2021)
Read our Audited Financial Statements here.
CELEBRATING OUR 50TH WITH A SONG
This song was written by Lynne Hanson. She is a Canadian singer-songwriter based in Ottawa, Ontario, who has released eight albums and has toured internationally. Lynne wrote “Lean on Me” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SWCHC, to honour the value of people connecting with people, and the idea that even the smallest acts of kindness can have a huge impact on the communities we live in.