The Donor: Dr. Paul Caulford
The Gift: Co-founding the Scarborough Community Volunteer Clinic
The Reason: To provide health care to medically uninsured new Canadians
In 1999, Dr. Paul Caulford came across a teenager with a life-threatening illness who had been turned away from a Toronto hospital because she did not have health coverage. The teenager had been sponsored to Canada by relatives who were supposed to pay for her coverage until she became eligible in Ontario. But her sponsorship had broken down and she was on her own.
Dr. Caulford, a family doctor in Scarborough, found a way to treat the girl and then discovered that thousands of others across Toronto were facing similar circumstances. They included refugees, new immigrants, asylum seekers, foreign workers, sponsored persons and undocumented arrivals. "They ended up more ill in [emergency rooms], hospitals and clinics," Dr. Caulford recalled.
In 2000, he banded together with a group of doctors and nurses and opened the Scarborough Community Volunteer Clinic. For two evenings a week, and one Saturday a month, the team treats as many as 30 patients at a time, none of whom have health coverage.
The free clinic has expanded and now includes dentists, a pediatrician, dietician, radiologist, foot care specialists and even volunteers from Doctors Without Borders. Everyone works on a volunteer basis and Dr. Caulford and others raise money and rely on government grants to cover expenses.
The group is now seeking charitable status and it's looking for a permanent location (it currently borrows space from a family doctor). The group is also hoping to raise $65,000 annually to cover rent plus another $140,000 for supplies.
"This has been a life-long journey for me," said Dr. Caulford, 65, who still has a family practice in Scarborough. When asked what drives him after all these years, he explained: "It has been impossible to stop because this is so compelling."