Dr. Day Event Answers Health-Related Questions that are Close to Students’ Hearts

by Darren Becker

The Heart and Hands Pediatric Clinic located in Verdun Elementary School has introduced a Dr. Day event as part of a new interactive way to teach students about their health.

As part of the Dr. Day event, physicians visited classrooms and answered any health/wellness questions that the students had prepared. The purpose was to create a safe space for them that provides a forum to ask questions that are important to them and where they can also receive reliable information from healthcare professionals.

“A lot of these students are going through puberty and may not feel comfortable talking to their peers about their concerns or their parents so this event really opens the floor for them to have a moment in this kind of setting which is quite unique,” said Melanie Babinsky a pediatric resident who participated in the Dr. Day event.

The Heart and Hands clinic is a unique residency model for McGill pediatric, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and dietician programs. They all work collaboratively to provide first line services to Riverview, Verdun Elementary and Beurling Academy students/families on-site at Verdun Elementary School one day a week through the clinic.

“Built by the community, for the community in a trusted environment, Heart and Hands bridges the gap between education and health sectors. Guided on the principle of equity and accessibility for all, the partnership between the school staff, LBPSB, McGill University Pediatrics department and the Montreal Childrens’ Hospital has provided all the critical ingredients to establish this first pediatric residency-based clinic serving the needs of families in the Verdun community,” said David Meloche, LBPSB Regional Director and Co-founder of the clinic.

Built directly into an elementary school, the clinic provides care directly to families in an environment they trust. In addition to pediatric medical services (including consultations), the clinic also provides a variety of health services, including occupational therapy, nutrition, and speech-language pathology (SLP), that can be especially challenging for marginalized families to access.

Since opening in October 2019, over 200 families have received care while also making applications for a family physician. There is also a strong link between the pediatric clinic and the Lester B. Pearson School Board as former Heart and Hands resident and Clinic Director General, Dr. David D’Arenzio, is also a St. Thomas High School graduate.

The school board provides the space and assumes the clinic’s heating and electricity costs.