The Health With Dignity Program was launched by Access Alliance in 2015 to help vulnerable clients navigate the health-care system and improve their capacity to manage their health.
The program uses health coaches to connect people with health services for primary care, help them with ongoing management of chronic illness, and provide referrals to other community supports that address determinants of health such as housing, legal and food security. Education is an important component of the Health With Dignity program and clients are supported to improve their capacity to set health care goals and better use available health and community resources.
Non Insured Walk In Clinic
In its seventh year of operation, the Non Insured Walk In Clinic (NIWIC) is a crucial service that operates under the umbrella of Health With Dignity.
The NIWIC provides health with dignity to a population that is often ignored, invisible or avoided. It is one of the few clinics in the city dedicated to serving the medically uninsured and the only clinic to date that provides a pathway to ongoing primary care for this marginalized group of residents.
The NIWIC is the only service in the City of Toronto where a pregnant medically uninsured resident can receive follow-up care during her pregnancy and be connected with a provider for ongoing prenatal care, labour and delivery. In September 2018, a grant from the Ontario midwifery program branch of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was secured for the NIWIC midwifery service until 2021. This financial support enabled the transition from the use of volunteer midwives to one permanent Midwife Coordinator who preforms prenatal assessments, addresses follow-up and manages the overall care and referrals of prenatal clients.
Collaboration and partnership
The NIWIC initiative was founded by a partnership of seven Toronto-based Community Health Centres (CHCs). This partnership initiative has evolved over the years from a service offering episodic care for uninsured residents living in Toronto’s west end, to a centralized point of access to primary health care for uninsured residents living across the GTA.
The collaborative CHC partnership is an essential part of the NIWIC model of care and has become a leading example of how the CHC sector can collaborate on a systems level and leverage resources to respond to the primary health care needs of an extraordinarily vulnerable community. In the backdrop of a politically contentious climate in Ontario where health system resources are uncertain, the NIWIC continues to persevere as a transformative primary health care service for the medically uninsured residents of Toronto.