Sunday, 10 November 2013

This Doctor That Treats Poverty Like a Disease practices family medicine at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto

Exemplary mental shift that is needed in our approach to health care provision – seeing patients as a whole person, not just treating the disease

This Doctor Treats Poverty Like a Disease

Trudy Lieberman | November 6, 2013
Dr. Gary Bloch, practices family medicine at Toronto St. Michael's Hospital & Treats #Poverty Like a #Disease
'... What would you think if your doctor handed you a prescription that recommended filing your tax returns or applying for food stamps instead of the usual medicines for high blood pressure or diabetes? You'd probably say the physician was nuts. Tax refunds? Food? What do they have to do with making you healthier?

I just returned from a month long Fulbright fellowship in Canada and met such a physician, Dr. Gary Bloch, who practices family medicine at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. We had a long conversation about what makes people healthy. He wasn't interested in talking about new drugs to lower cholesterol hyped by the latest drug salesperson to walk through his door.

"We've created an advocacy or interventional initiative aimed at changing the conversation about poverty and how doctors think about poverty as a health issue," Bloch told me. "It's one of those cultural shift things. My job is to push ideas for physician interventions around poverty." Bloch showed me a clinical tool used by primary care practices in Ontario that is based on strong evidence linking poverty to bad health outcomes.

The tool, a four-page brochure, is simple in design but powerful in concept. "You come at poverty from every possible angle," Bloch said. "You start from the evidence and frame the issue in language doctors can understand."

The evidence: Page one of the tool points out that "poverty accounts for 24percent of person years of life lost in Canada (second only to 30 percent for neoplasms)," and notes that "higher social and economic status seem to be the most important determinants of health."..."

See also

Primary Care Interventions into Poverty


For questions, please contact Dr. Gary Bloch.

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