HRH fund to help vulnerable patients


Every day, many of the patients who arrive in Humber’s Apotex Emergency Department (ED) are struggling with housing, food insecurity, unstable employment, and lack of social support, in addition to the medical needs that brought them to Humber in the first place.

Some of our patients who arrive in our ED have no way of getting home or paying for the ambulance that brought them to Humber, and many don’t know where their next hot meal will come from. Often when this happens, our compassionate frontline staff take it upon themselves to pay for these essentials out of their own pocket.

To empower our frontline team to help our patients who need it most, we have created a new Patient Comfort Fund to ensure that the patients who arrive in our ED can have their most basic needs met. When our patients have no other options, our ED staff will now cover the costs of transportation and food vouchers using money from the Fund.

“Our Emergency Department is Humber’s interface between the hospital and community,” said Umwali Sauter, Manager of Equity and Inclusion at Humber River Hospital. “But it’s also a place where we see the impact of social, economic, political and cultural disadvantages first-hand. As a society and in healthcare, we still have work to do to ensure everyone is having their unique needs met.”

Humber serves a community with a variety of needs. Our Hospital is located in one of the GTA’s highest priority neighbourhoods, with 34 percent of households in a low-income bracket and an 11 percent unemployment rate. Our community in the northwest part of Toronto has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have seen a surge of patients in mental health crisis too.

“Our teams do everything in our power to treat our patients, to calm them down, assess their needs and get them the help they need. But more than half of the patients I see are also suffering from something else – financial hardships, housing insecurity and lack of basic needs,” said Chidimma Achioso, an Emergency Crisis Worker in the ED. “You have no idea how far a warm meal can go in soothing a patient. That’s why I have paid for meals myself for patients who can’t afford it.”

The need for the Patient Comfort Fund was more evident than ever during the first wave of the pandemic, when our local community was struggling with the basic essentials and would sometimes visit our Emergency simply for a hot meal or shower. The need continues as we battle the second wave of the virus and beyond.

We are proud to announce the creation of this fund. Donations will allow staff on the frontlines to identify those patients who are most in need, and offer them vouchers for transportation or food.

“Support like the Patient Comfort Fund will make a world of difference for our patients living this reality,” said Umwali.

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