When the Jennifer Tory Trauma Recovery Clinic opened at Sunnybrook in April 2021, physiotherapist Carly Orava was one of the first people to join the newly-created team.
“I was excited about the creation of this clinic because we’re able to follow and care for trauma patients for up to a year after they are discharged from the hospital. This model gives us a deeper level of insight into our patients’ recovery process that we didn’t necessarily have before,” she says.
Carly says the patients they see are dealing with a variety of issues after an injury, including physical disability, pain, mental health problems and the effects of brain injuries. The new clinic operates in a dedicated space where patients receive care from a range of health professions including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, physiatry, psychology, clinical psychiatry and pain services.
Before the clinic opened, a trauma patient who had been discharged but still required follow-up with multiple care providers would have needed to visit several different areas of the hospital. Patients who live further away from the hospital may have also had trouble accessing care in their home communities.
“Now, we can identify and address gaps in care pathways to make sure no one is falling through the cracks,” says Carly, who has worked with trauma patients at Sunnybrook since 2013, first as a student in the inpatient trauma unit and then at St. John’s Rehab.
The clinic, which is the first of its kind in Canada, has booked close to 1,900 appointments over the past year. Carly says that while there are ebbs and flows, no two days are the same.
“Some days I may only have a few patients scheduled, but then one of the occupational therapists identifies a patient who may benefit from physiotherapy during one of their appointments, so I will drop in to do an assessment. Or, I could be called to the inpatient trauma unit to evaluate a patient and help put together their discharge plan. You definitely have to start your day with an open mind,” she says.
As the team celebrates the successes of the clinic’s first year, they’re already looking ahead to the future.
“We’re still growing and figuring out how best to meet the needs of all our patients,” says Carly.
However, one thing she knows for sure is that the collaborative environment of the clinic has made for a seamless experience for patients.
“Our patients are happy knowing that somebody still cares about their recovery, even when the acute care phase of their journey is complete, and we are happy to be able to provide that to them,” she says.