In August 2019, The Blue Door Clinic opened for service after many months of collaborative planning amongst a group of community health and social support organizations.
This initiative was launched in response to the growing reality that many individuals living in Toronto diagnosed with HIV have limited or no health insurance to secure the treatments and testing now considered standards of care in Ontario. This includes many diverse populations: new immigrants/permanent residents within the initial 3-month OHIP waiting period; migrant workers and those awaiting renewed contracts or work visas; newcomers awaiting inland processing and review of their immigration and refugee applications; Canadian-born individuals who do not have adequate identification due a variety of adverse life circumstances, and international students studying in Toronto whose mandatory health insurance does not cover the full range of HIV care.
Since 2017, service providers in Toronto have reported an increase in this population and the need for service. For example, Hassle Free Clinic, the largest provider of HIV testing services in Toronto, reported that 40% of clients testing HIV-positive in 2017 had inadequate health insurance or no coverage at all including many young gay men who are here on student, visitor or work visas.
Following dialogue among service providers, community groups and members of the PHA community, ten community agencies and groups came together and developed the Blue Door Clinic, with the goal of supporting People living with HIV & AIDS (PHAs) with limited or no health insurance. The group conducted community needs assessments and focus groups with affected community members to co-develop the clinic service model.
The founding organizations in this collaboration are the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Casey House, the Centre for Spanish-speaking Peoples, the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT), Hassle Free Clinic, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, Regent Park Community Health Centre, Sherbourne Health, and Toronto People with AIDS Foundation (PWA).
The project has two streams:
- Deliver a scheduled clinic for PHAs with limited or no health insurance.
- Support primary care providers to build their knowledge and capacity to deliver primary care to this population.
The agency representatives form a steering committee to oversee the operation of the project. The clinic’s service providers (health service providers, case management and community support, peer navigation support) are all working with us thanks to in-kind contributions by our collaborating partner agencies.