Philanthropy in Ottawa: CHEO banks on TD for mental health support

Tara-Lynn Hughes
Tara-Lynn Hughes
Editor's Note

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Who: TD Bank Group 

The donation: $50,000

The recipients: CHEO Foundation 

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The inspiration: “Living through a pandemic has put challenges in front of Canadians that we’ve never experienced. And every day at TD, I can see it’s testing the mental health and emotional well-being of our employees, our customers and our communities. It’s stressful for all of us, but especially so for children and youth.” – Tara-Lynn Hughes, senior vice-president, greater Ontario region, TD Bank. 

Even prior to COVID-19, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) was facing a crisis in pediatric mental health.

Requests for mental health care through the hospital’s emergency room had jumped by approximately 75 per cent over the preceding decade. Its ER was the busiest in all of Canada, caring for some 200 patients a day.

Then, when the pandemic hit, it faced a new challenge: Visits to the ER dropped to 50 individuals daily as patients stopped seeking in-person care.

To tackle the challenge, the CHEO team looked to remote technology. In May 2020, CHEO launched a virtual pediatric emergency department – the first in Canada. 

Fortunately, CHEO was uniquely positioned to develop innovative solutions to the problem. Just prior to March 2020, CHEO’s emergency department and mental health program joined forces to develop an integrated initiative.

Previously separate mental health teams of crisis workers began to work side-by-side with emergency department physicians and nurses. The mental health virtual emergency room program means hospitals in remote areas are now able to provide patients with access to virtual appointments with specialists.

The groundbreaking program is funded in part thanks to a donation of $50,000 to CHEO from the TD Community Resilience Initiative. Throughout Canada, TD has allocated $25 million to help communities respond to COVID-19 and become more resilient. 

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Beyond strengthening virtual mental health support services, the gift from the TD will also help support other key areas of focus within CHEO’s mental health program. This includes in-patient care and further support for children with eating disorders – another area of care in which the hospital has seen a spike in demand since the pandemic began.

“With the challenges brought on by the pandemic, there has never been a time when children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing has been more critical,” said Tara-Lynn Hughes, TD Bank’s senior vice-president for the greater Ontario region. “At TD, we recognize the importance of organizations like the CHEO Foundation and could not be prouder to support the work being done to help children get the immediate access to mental health care professionals that they need.”

Philanthropy in Ottawa is a monthly feature highlighting notable donations in Ottawa. Share your stories of philanthropy in our community with And be sure to read the latest edition of OBJ’s Giving Guide:

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