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Introducing health hub to a growing community in need: Health Access Thorncliffe Park


Thorncliffe Park is one of the fastest growing immigrant communities and has the highest birth rate in Toronto. This burgeoning community of 30,000 – the size of Orillia – has poor health outcomes and barriers accessing needed services.

In 2014, Santis was selected by an alliance of health service providers (Flemingdon Health Centre or FHC, The Neighbourhood Organization or TNO – Formerly Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, and South Riverdale CHC) to undertake a health care needs assessment.

Based on the results of the needs assessment, Santis was engaged by the provider partners in late 2015 to facilitate a plan to expand access to coordinated and culturally competent primary care and community services in Thorncliffe Park. The result was a roadmap for a primary health care and community hub – Health Access Thorncliffe Park – geared towards key populations in the neighbourhood, particularly newcomers and isolated seniors.

Santis has continued to work with the partners on implementing the hub including governance support and strategic communications services.

What Santis Did

For the current state assessment and gap analysis, Santis used a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. The central principle guiding this initiative is to enable local residents and clients to define their needs, experiences and priorities. Santis worked with community members to co-design meaningful community engagement activities, tailored to the distinct needs of each group. We used a mix of focus groups, interviews, surveys, and roundtable sessions. Interpreters assisted with discussions with non-English-speaking groups, including non-insured residents.

The report was later used by the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and Ministry of Health to inform service planning and funding decisions.

The client partners and Santis encountered two key challenges.

  1. Developing a compelling case to convince funders of the value of investing in local health care services and supporting the development of a health and community care hub.
  2. Bringing together a large and diverse group of stakeholders to reach consensus on the strategic plan for Health Access Thorncliffe Park.

To date, Santis has planned and facilitated engagement activities with more than 1,000 individuals and groups, including local residents; immigrants, seniors, youth and other community groups; service providers; primary care and other health professionals; officials from all levels of government; the Toronto Central LHIN; other partners such as the United Way, Toronto Public Health, schools, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

Santis supported all aspects of strategic planning, reporting to a Steering Committee including senior leaders from Community Health Centres, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Family Health Teams, Toronto East General Hospital (now Michael Garron), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Toronto Central LHIN.

With guidance from the Steering Committee, Santis wrote the Health Access Thorncliffe Park submission, making a persuasive case for the primary care and community hub.

Since that time, Santis has provided the HATP partners, FHC and TNO, with governance, community engagement and communications services, and recently led a branding exercise in support of the HATP expansion.


Now in its third year of operation, HATP will move to a new, expanded location – the East York Town Centre – in March 2018. Over the next few years, the plan is to integrate HATP with a range of other health and social services and programming under one roof (including legal, immigrant, and dental services), with HATP acting as an entry point and coordinator for Thorncliffe’s diverse residents. This full community Hub is slated to be open by 2020.

Other key outcomes include:

  • Eighteen stakeholders provided letters of support for the HATP roadmap.
  • The strategic blueprint was endorsed by community leaders and various organizations, and supported by the TC LHIN, the Ministry and the Premier.
  • The TC LHIN and Ministry are providing operational and capital funding for HATP.
  • The City of Toronto and United Way, as well as various providers and community agencies, are partnering with HATP to develop a comprehensive health and community hub.
  • HATP will launch a new brand, co-developed with community members, staff and partners.