I cannot help but reflect on how the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the transition back to a palliative care-centred environment even more timely.
This pandemic has moved public awareness of palliative care forward; however, it has also illuminated a significant unmet need for it. The fact that many more advanced care planning conversations are happening because of the pandemic is a heartening silver lining and an indication of progress in palliative care in general, and especially at the Freeman Centre.
Despite this, too many Canadians do not have access to palliative care at a time when more individuals than ever need it. On top of the growing numbers of individuals living with life-limiting illnesses, there is a new group of individuals who require palliative care: COVID-19 patients who are nearing end-of-life. While palliative care clinicians across the country have been hard at work providing palliative care and sharing their knowledge with colleagues, accessibility for all Canadians–no matter where they live or their social circumstances–has not yet been fully addressed.
Progress has been made, but there is still much more to be done. Thanks to the support of the Freeman Family and many others, the Freeman Centre is at the forefront of closing gaps. Over this past year, I have watched current Medical Lead, Daryl Roitman, and the team lead many exciting initiatives, from a new outreach program for individuals living with non-malignant, life-threatening illness, to a collaboration between long-term care and the Freeman Centre team to integrate palliative care into long-term care sooner. I look forward to supporting and building upon the excellent work the Freeman Centre team has undertaken to continue to close these gaps.
I am dedicated to furthering the mandate of the Freeman Centre to define and promote a culture of exemplary palliative care, whether that be at home or in hospital. As the inaugural Freeman Family Chair in Palliative Care, I am committed to tackling head-on the challenges palliative patients face with accessing appropriate levels of care in North York — and beyond.
Sandy Buchman, MD CCFP (PC) FCFP
Past President, Canadian Medical Association/Association Médicale Canadienne
Freeman Family Chair in Palliative Care, North York General Hospital
Associate Professor, Department of
North York General Foundation
4001 Leslie Street, Toronto, ON