Peggy and Phil DeZwirek
Phil and Peggy DeZwirek are cherished supporters and generous donors to Baycrest.
They are also visionaries, because this year, they went above and beyond their usual support and made a very generous gift to launch Baycrest’s “Virtual Memory Clinic” – a two-year pilot program in Baycrest’s Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic.
When family members start to notice forgetfulness, cognitive processing difficulties or behavioural changes in a loved one, it may be the start of a long and arduous journey. The first step is to go to their family doctor, who may refer the patient to places like the Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic, one of the leading clinics of its kind in Canada.
However, wait times for an appointment with Dr. Morris Freedman, Baycrest’s Head of Neurology and Medical Director of Cognition and Behaviour, or one of his colleagues, averages eight to 12 months.
In Canada alone, more than 540,000 people are living with dementia. That number is expected to double in the next 15 years.
“Looking at the demographic changes in our society, it is clear that a status quo approach will not be enough to care for the growing number of older adults who will experience mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia,” Phil says.
With this gift, Phil and Peggy will directly impact care, providing patients, their families and clinicians like Dr. Freedman, with the means to unclog the waiting list and provide care more quickly.
The Virtual Memory Clinic pilot program will provide immediate dividends to patients and clinicians. For example, this gift will enable the team to use telehealth technology to triage the waiting list and adjust appointments for less complex patients who do not require in-depth assessments. This change alone will increase the number of clients served and maximize clinician efficiency.
“Incorporating a virtual component into the physical is a game-changer. It will give us the ability to front-load medical history-taking and other administrative tasks before the first visit. We will be able to better manage the Memory Clinic waitlist by engaging, triaging, educating and supporting clients and their family members prior to their initial visit. We will also be able to offer virtual assessments and virtual follow-up appointments. The impact on our patients and their families will be dramatic,” Dr. Freedman says.
As the Virtual Memory Clinic matures and additional donor support emerges, more technologies will be introduced. These will allow the clinic to further increase the number of clients served.
For more information about the Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic at Baycrest, click here.