DFCM Faculty and Alumni recognized by the Ontario College of Family Physicians

Dec 2, 2019

Several members of the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) have been recognized for their outstanding work in the 2019 Ontario College of Family Physicians Awards. These awards are given to individuals who have been nominated by their colleagues for exmplary skill, knowledge, and dedication to the work that family doctors do every day to help keep Ontarians healthy. Congratulations to all award winners!

Below are the DFCM faculty and alumni who have been recognized this year. A list of all award recipients can be found on OCFP's website.

Dr. Jocelyn Charles named Ontario Family Physician of the Year

Dr. Jocelyn Charles has been named Ontario’s 2019 recipient of the Reg L. Perkin Family Physician of the Year award by the Ontario College of Family Physicians. The award is the OCFP’s highest honour, presented annually to a family doctor who provides exceptional care to patients while significantly contributing to the health and well-being of communities and society.

“Dr. Charles has been looking after three generations of my family over the past 25 years, caring for my wife and me, our children and my parents,” said Larry Novachis. “When my parents got very sick, Dr. Charles would visit my mother late at night in intensive care and made house calls to make sure both were doing well. She not only provided excellent patient care to them both, she was also a key counselor and a calming influence for all of us. Our family feels blessed to be in her care.”

Dr. Charles provides a broad scope of care across generations of families. Working in the Family Health Team and as medical director of the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, she is well known for her unwavering commitment to veterans and her patients. Her passion for collaborative, patient-centred care led her to co-develop and co-author tools for care coordination that are being used province wide, like TIP – Telemedicine Impact Plus – which allows primary care physicians to collaborate virtually with an interprofessional team of specialists to support patients with complex conditions.

2019 OCFP Award of Excellence Recipients

Through nominations by peers or the public, the awards recognize family doctors across Canada who have demonstrated an exceptional achievement within the past 24 months pertaining to the specialty of family medicine. Nominations are submitted and adjudicated through the provincial Chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Dr. Farhan Muhammad Asrar (Mississauga), is recognized his contributions to diverse initiatives that have supported research, medical education, and training within family medicine, public health and space medicine. 

“Dr. Asrar’s contributions to our body of knowledge in public health and environmental health and his numerous humanitarian efforts are having an impact on a local and international scale,” said Jennifer Young, President, Ontario College of Family Physicians. “We are fortunate to have pioneers like Dr. Asrar practising in Ontario and the opportunity to benefit from his leadership. It is a great pleasure to acknowledge his accomplishments through this award.”

Dr. Asrar’s passion for family medicine and public health has been central to his work since starting his practice in Mississauga in 2014. He established the Orphan Sponsorship Program – one of the most successful volunteer university student fundraising initiatives in Canada. This program enables students to take a leadership role in fundraising to support orphans in over 20 countries and has raised over $1 million to date. As a resident, while he was working at Stonechurch Clinic in Hamilton, he developed a database of bilingual clinician and staff volunteers as a resource that doctors can use with patients who do not speak English or French. He has since shared this innovative idea at national conferences to help other clinics.

Dr. Paul Gill (Goderich), is recognized for his work with the South West LHIN Partnering for Quality Digital Coalition that advanced administrative efficiencies and patient care by coordinating resources and standardizing and improving the quality of referral forms.

Believing a physician’s time is best spent with patients, Dr. Gill has been the driving force behind the Partnering for Quality’s (PFQ) Digital Coalition. Launched in 2018, the program aims to reduce administrative work by creating standardized, EMR-compatible forms given each primary care office could typically have up to 600 unique forms. To date, through Dr. Gill’s clinical leadership, 80 EMR-compatible forms have been developed in partnership with several healthcare institutions across the South West LHIN. Over a 17-week period, this new approach saved on average 68 administrative hours per clinic (28 primary care teams/clinics representing over 200 physicians and their staff) for a total savings of 1,900 hours. This has enabled family doctors to focus more on patient care or improve work/life balance. His vision is to expand this work provincially to support improved coordination of resources and standardization of referral forms that will ultimately support the growth of a centralized intake.

“Dr. Gill’s leadership has been instrumental in bringing together many players in the healthcare system in Southwestern Ontario to maximize efficiencies and in creating a go-to resource for patients that enhances patient self management skills,” said Dr. Jennifer Young, President, Ontario College of Family Physicians. “His vision and dedication have had a beneficial impact on his peers and on patients, and it is our pleasure to celebrate his contributions and achievements with this award.”

Dr. Tina Hu (Toronto), is recognized for her accomplishments as a medical resident supporting high risk and vulnerable populations through mental health and addictions research, community service, and patient care.

While a University of Toronto family medicine resident at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Hu spearheaded an academic research study examining the efficacy of suboxone with rapid follow-up at an addictions clinic as a treatment intervention for opioid use disorder in the emergency department. Her work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, making it the first published study in Canada examining the effectiveness of suboxone initiation in the emergency department. The success of her research stands to be far reaching and has spawned interest from other departments, community and academic partners as well as allied health professionals. Dr. Hu has also led research in improving transitions of care for hospitalized elderly patients and improving access to mental health services for youth with mental health and substance use concerns who arrive in emergency departments in remote Ontario communities.

During medical school, she was the executive director of the IMAGINE Clinic – an interprofessional student-run clinic that provides free healthcare services for vulnerable populations in downtown Toronto. In addition to managing over 300 student volunteers from various healthcare disciplines, she helped lead health promotion workshops at shelters and organize community outreach programs and a national conference of student free-clinics. To support her peers, she led the creation of an inner-city health elective that enables medical and allied health students to learn about issues affecting marginalized populations to address a curricular gap in students’ knowledge.

Dr. Arun Radhakrishnan (Ottawa), is recognized for his leadership in the areas of knowledge translation, mentorship, and chronic non-cancer pain management related issues, that have contributed to clinical and system-level impacts.

As clinical lead for the OCFP’s award-winning Collaborative Mentoring Networks (CMN) and co-chair of the two long-standing networks on mental health as well as addictions and pain, he has led the successful expansion of the CMN to other pressing areas such as rural medicine and medical assistance in dying. He is also a mentor himself, working to ensure family physicians province-wide are well supported in managing their patients’ chronic pain and opioid use.

In addition, Dr. Radhakrishnan works with the Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) as the clinical lead for the Knowledge Translation in Primary Care initiative. Under his leadership, five clinical tools were developed to support primary care providers in managing chronic pain and opioid use disorders in their patients. These tools have been downloaded over 30,000 times. He is also the CEP clinical lead for the Primary Care Academic Detailing Service where he focuses on developing and teaching strategies for managing chronic non-cancer pain, and supporting patients living with opioid use disorder.

Dr. Helen Senderovich (Toronto), is recognized for her contributions in knowledge translation and medical discovery, offering new insights into palliative care specifically through her work as an educator and researcher.

Dr. Senderovich has been providing comprehensive geriatric and palliative care for over 30 years and working at Baycrest in Toronto for the last 14 years. She has taught students at every stage of their education, ranging from undergraduate to continuing professional development and in a variety of clinical settings. With a unique way of personalizing her students’ training, she helps them develop the clinical skills required to integrate cancer and palliative care in the primary care context. She has been credited with fostering a positive learning environment that encourages personal and professional growth as well as independence and critical thinking.

Dr. Senderovich is also recognized for her contributions to medical discovery, offering insights into palliative care through her work as a researcher. She has been on the editorial board of multiple international, peer-reviewed journals including Geriatric Medicine Research, and has delivered lectures on palliative care, geriatrics and pain management all over the world. She has been involved in the evolution of palliative care education through the development of a new undergraduate palliative care curriculum at the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.

Dr. Catherine Yu (Toronto), for her leadership in supporting vulnerable populations by establishing and sustaining an integrated model of primary and community care with Health Access Thorncliffe Park. 

Dr. Yu has been the driving force behind accessible medicine in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto. As the Physician Lead, Engagement and Systems Design at Health Access Thorncliffe Park (HATP), Dr. Yu mobilized a diverse community of healthcare providers and social service agencies to create a community-based, multi-service agency that serves an area that has lacked adequate comprehensive integrated primary health care. With this clinic, patients have access to primary health care, social services, nutrition services, family support and more, with no health card or referral required, and language interpretation services are available, if needed.

Working with the Toronto District School Board and local healthcare providers, Dr. Yu led the establishment of a school-based clinic at Thorncliffe Park Public School to fill a gap between schools and the healthcare system. At this clinic, students and their parents – many of whom are new to Canada and do not have a family doctor – and teachers have access to healthcare professionals that can help with developmental and behavioral disorders and complex primary care cases. Additionally, Dr. Yu has established a partnership with the Michael Garron Hospital where she organized a Winter Surge After-Hours Clinic Program to help ease the traffic at neighbouring emergency departments.

Dr. Peter Kizoff (Barrie/Tiny), is recognized for his role as a clinical leader, mentor and educator focused on palliative care and MAiD, which has enabled a robust care process in his community and become an example for neighbouring communities.

In 2016, Dr. Kizoff retired from office practice to focus on providing palliative and medical-assistance-in-dying (MAID) care in Barrie. As one of the first physicians to perform MAID in this community, the program he developed provided needed services in patients' homes, local hospices, and at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH). Dr. Kizoff is known for his willingness to travel to communities without access to end-of-life care to provide his services.

Dr. James Shaver (Barrie), is recognized for his creation of the Suspicion of Cancer Diagnostic Assessment Program within the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre to detect cancer in its earliest stages. This program allows physicians to refer patients to the specialized clinic where they are diagnosed with or without cancer. This project has shortened wait times for patients as the number of patients being referred directly to the cancer centre without a confirmed diagnosis has been significantly reduced. It has also reduced the number of hospital and resources spent on incorrect referrals, as well as easing patients' anxiety over diagnosis, all while keeping their family physician involved.