February and Forever: Black Creek Community Health Centre
Today, we’re shining a light on one of Humber River Hospital’s community partners, the Black Creek Community Health Centre. They engage with individuals, families and organizations to deliver comprehensive health services and programs that enhance community health and well-being.
Over the last 33 years, Black Creek Community Health Centre (Black Creek CHC) has worked hard to serve area residents, including members of the African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) communities, to nurture trust, enabling clients to cut through the noise of misinformation that inhibits access to care.
When Representation Matters Most
Throughout the pandemic, Black Creek CHC has been successful in its community outreach to promote testing and improve vaccination rates among residents of Toronto’s Northwest.
Last year, 38% of the clients accessing care, programs, and services at Black Creek CHC, identified as ACB.
“As a Black-identifying woman, community leader, and parent, I value providing culturally sensitive information and healthcare,” says Cheryl Prescod, Executive Director at the Black Creek Community Health Centre. “I also recognize the importance of representation for many in the Black community whose history of mistrust toward the health care system still exists because they have experienced structural racism.”
Through her work, Cheryl, along with the health centre’s care team, which includes ACB health care professionals and program workers, remain committed to creating a non-judgmental environment that offers culturally safe and convenient access to care and trustworthy information.
COVID-19 shifted the health centre’s focus from the prevention and management of disease to active management of the pandemic’s direct and indirect impacts on families.
In addition to food and financial support related to the pandemic, the care team continued to provide culturally appropriate and continuing care to prevent diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, since the incidence of these diseases is disproportionately higher among members of Toronto’s Black, African and Caribbean community, largely due to a range of social determinants of health.
In response, the health centre’s care professionals and health promotion staff collaborated with ACB community ambassadors, hired from within the community, as well as organizational partners to provide clients with access to trustworthy, accurate and timely information received from members of their own community.
Black Creek CHC worked with community partners, along with well-known and respected members of the ACB community, to provide and promote access to culturally sensitive, and timely information, supporting clients and community members, to make the right decisions for their families.
The Locker Room Series, hosted by well-known Torontonian, Dwight Drummond, presented information sessions the ACB community could engage in and trust, which went a long way toward demonstrating Black Creek CHC’s extraordinary role, reach and influence in the community.
Next Few Months
The pandemic has highlighted how race and systemic racism increased vulnerability for many working members of the community and their families. As essential, front-line workers, unable to work from home, many in the ACB community rely on public transit to get to work. In most cases, these are the jobs that help keep the economy going throughout the pandemic. In addition, they are returning home to apartment buildings and neighbourhoods where social distancing is not a realistic option.
Elevated risks of exposure combined with higher rates of pre-existing health conditions, like hypertension and diabetes, have also increased the likelihood for members of the ACB community to experience serious COVID-19 illness and death. Along with the social and emotional impact of the pandemic on this population group, it is anticipated that many in Northwest Toronto will suffer long-term economic hardships as well as disabilities associated with long-COVID syndrome that must be addressed.
Community Health Centres
To provide equitable and affordable care for all, Cheryl expressed that community-based healthcare is essential to support communities who face high-risk and vulnerable circumstances, particularly those without health insurance and those with lived experience of systemic discrimination.
Due to this, she says that she and the rest of the Black Creek CHC Care Team are looking forward to work more with Humber River Hospital.
“We’re excited to celebrate Black History Month and find new ways to collaborate on building trust and a sense of safety and security for those seeking healthcare in our community.”
For more information on the Black Creek Community Health Centre, please visit their website at www.bcchc.com