The Ajax Harwood Clinic takes medical education to new heights

The Ajax Harwood Clinic (AHC) is putting PMH concepts into practice with virtual patient education, group medical appointments, and a blended funding model. The AHC brings together students from diverse educational backgrounds to create an environment of learning, and seeks to encourage health literacy among its patients.

With a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) assistant, residents, medical students, office assistant interns from local colleges, year-round co-op students, and more, the AHC has created a mutually beneficial team designed to address the needs of the downtown Ajax community.

“Our vision is ‘Clarity will come from Education,’” says Dr. Carlos Yu, one of the five family physicians that lead the clinic.

Thursday “Lunch and Learn” sessions are presented by students, physicians, and other health professionals, and encourage group discussions, and the clinic is deeply involved with teaching programs in institutions across the province, including the University of Toronto, Queen’s, McMaster, and Western.

The team also includes a community mental health worker from Durham Mental Health, behaviour consultants for weight and diabetes management, as well as a pharmacy team, in order to deliver comprehensive care.

“We have a purpose-built Group Medical Appointment space for two groups that meet twice per week for six chronic diseases,” says Dr. Yu. “We want to focus on patient education and empowerment, and all programs at the clinic are free of charge to patients to remove financial barriers to access.”

In keeping with the clinic’s focus on patient empowerment, the clinic also offers yoga, meditation, and mindfulness sessions. Employees are encouraged to attend self-management programs for pain, chronic disease, and diabetes to improve their group coordinator skills.

Improvement is also a focus for the clinic: patient knowledge tests are designed to determine whether or not patients have acquired the necessary knowledge for wellness, and evidence-based patient motivation tests help physicians understand their patients better.

Dr. Yu says the clinic uses a sliding scale for patient reflection, noting that, “We capture patient sentiments in the hope that if it can be measured, we can change it.”

The team itself is grounded by a blended funding model, with three physicians on the Family Health Organization capitation model, and two physicians on the fee-for-service model. Staff meetings are held once a month for in-service and group problem solving.

The Ajax Harwood Clinic’s Thursday afternoon walk and jog program encourages team-building, community involvement and, naturally, healthy living.

“All are welcome,” says Dr. Yu.

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