The ultimate goal of Canada’s health care system must be to keep people well rather than just patching them up when they get sick. And this must be the primary goal of the TAIBU Community Health Centre – a non-profit organization providing comprehensive primary health care and health promotion programs and services to Malvern residents.
The challenge was laid down by Dr. Joan Lesmond in her keynote address at the organization’s first annual general meeting last week.
TAIBU is a greeting or wish in Swahili meaning “Be in Good Health.”
Funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the TAIBU Community Health Centre is mandated to provide specialized programs and services to the Black community in addition to a focus on children, youth and seniors.
“You should want TAIBU to have the best practice to be that centre of excellence and to really be a Community Health Centre (CHC) model,” said Lesmond, who was recently appointed president of the Association of Ontario Health Centres. “I am looking forward to that because, in my new role, I am going to make sure I stay involved so that we can make this a reality.”
TAIBU emerged from the Black Health Alliance (BHA) after then Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, George Smitherman, announced in November 2005 that the government was increasing CHC satellite centres across the province to improve primary health care and strengthen communities.
The BHA was instrumental in lobbying for a CHC to be set up in Malvern to serve the large, predominantly Black population in the Scarborough riding.
“TAIBU is community based, it is interdisciplinary and it is for the people with the key focus being on determinants of health,” said Lesmond, the executive director of Community Engagement at Saint Elizabeth Health Centre. “How you reach out to people in the community that may feel isolated, marginalized and stigmatized and may not feel they are part of mainstream and your ability to deliver a high quality of care while adopting a client centre approach will also be key to your success.”
In June 2008, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care approved TAIBU’s capital project application for the internal leasehold improvements to accommodate the centre. Work on the 14,500 square foot building is expected to be completed in the spring of 2010.
The building, located at 27 Tapscott Rd., will include a community program space and teaching kitchen area while the clinical section will provide primary care services delivered through physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, dietitians, a social worker/therapist and a chiropodist.
TAIBU is currently operating out of the Malvern Medical Centre.
“This organization’s journey to get to this point has been one that certainly is a reflection of smart work, commitment, dedication, effective strategizing and clever negotiating,” said TAIBU’s president, Floydeen Charles-Fridal. “Our accessible presence, through our programs and services, positions the organization to be the instrument this community needs to remove barriers to accessing health care.”
The other members of TAIBU’s board are Hyacinth Robinson-Powell (vice-president), Sandra Newton (secretary), Karla Avis-Birch (treasurer), Elaine Thompson, Dan Rutembesa, Audette James, Derrick McLennon, Gail Wilson, Dr. Neil Fernando, Eunadie Johnson and former BHA chair, Dr. Christopher Morgan who, in early 2005, submitted an application on behalf of the organization for a Family Health Team.
When that bid was rejected, the chiropractor was able to successfully move the application for a culturally-appropriate centre to the CHC which he later admitted is much more suitable to the needs of the Black community because the CHC model offers a wider scope and variety.