“There is no other hospital like this in Canada – and I’d dare say the world,” says Jack Woodman, Vice President of Strategy, Quality, Risk and Privacy at Women’s College Hospital (WCH). “This has always been a place that encouraged expansive thinking.”
WCH was established under the leadership of Dr. Emily Stowe in 1883, 140 years ago, when the University of Toronto’s refused to admit women for the study of medicine. Dr. Stowe led by example and inspired generations of women by becoming the first woman physician to practice medicine in Canada.
Since its founding, WCH has continued to chart its own trailblazing course by breaking through barriers in order to achieve healthcare equity – for women, for the underrepresented in society and for everyone in the community who needs access to important healthcare services.
“For example, we incorporate traditional practices of Indigenous peoples into the care provided at the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health,” explains Dr. Cynthia Maxwell, Vice President of Medical Affairs & System Transformation and Lead Medical Executive at WCH. “As well, the Black Women’s Healthcare Summit enables experts with lived experience as members of the Black community to address critical issues in women’s healthcare.”
WCH is also proud to be the home of the first Transition-Related Surgery (TRS) Program at a publicly funded hospital in Canada. The program is vital because other options for trans-related surgical care are extremely limited in the province – despite the fact that Ontario has the largest trans population in Canada.
“We are advancing clinical language, care, research, education and policy to meet the needs of women and gender-diverse people,” says Woodman. “I want to see Women’s evolve as a global leader known for revolutionizing the next era of sex, gender and reproductive health.”
Part of WCH’s ongoing commitment is to nurture the next generation of healthcare leaders, especially members of diverse communities. This is seen in the donor-supported Emily Stowe Scholars Program, which provides career support and mentorship to diverse persons who have been systemically and historically excluded in healthcare and health-science career trajectories.
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