Providing compassionate, non-judgmental and empathic care: Dr. Meeta Patel

December 23, 2020

If you’re a member of the community, chances are you’ve spent some time at North York General Hospital’s (NYGH) Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg Emergency. On any given day, you can find Dr. Meeta Patel, Emergency Medicine Physician at NYGH, providing exceptional patient care, training the next generation of physicians, or taking steps to increase diversity, equity and inclusivity in the workplace.

North York General’s Emergency Department (ED) is among the busiest in the province, with almost 120,000 visits annually. But after more than a decade in emergency medicine, the high volumes and the bustle doesn’t faze Dr. Patel. It’s one reason she enjoys practicing emergency medicine so much.

“We provide patients and families access to care at all hours of the day and night – our doors are always open,” highlights Dr. Patel. “We also come across some of the most vulnerable patients in the community, experiencing different health inequities and requiring comprehensive care.”

The ED is often the first point of contact with the healthcare system, connecting many people with hospital services as well as services in the community, such as mental health and addictions.

“Providing care that is compassionate, nonjudgmental, and empathetic is both a privilege and responsibility that I value highly,” explains Dr. Patel. This dedication is revered by colleagues, and it’s what she hopes to instill in learners too.

As a preceptor, Dr. Patel takes tremendous pride in shaping the future of medicine. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Community Health with a focus on Health Practitioner Teacher Education, part-time, further steering her professional journey full circle. Dr. Patel reflects fondly to her family medicine residency at North York General, speaking highly of the exceptional teaching community. This experience sparked her love for teaching and emergency medicine. Since completing her residency and fellowship at the University of Toronto, she has invested her talents and insight into preparing the physicians of the future, through clinical teaching and education leadership roles at NYGH.

“Serving patients with undifferentiated illnesses and injuries with compassion and empathy is probably one of the most important things we can model for our learners,” emphasizes Dr. Patel. While she loves to teach, Dr. Patel also enjoys absorbing knowledge from her students.

“I’ve always felt that teaching and learning go hand-in-hand,” she says. “I learn something new from our learners every shift – I often leave feeling humbled.”

Taking her passion for education even further, Dr. Patel is the Co-Chair of North York General’s Emergency Medicine Update, the largest emergency medicine conference in Canada, bringing together the brightest minds in the field to improve practice. She is also heavily involved in the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, serving as a Professional Development Co-Lead and as a mentor for the Faculty of Medicine’s Diversity Mentorship Program; a program aimed at reducing barriers to underrepresented and minoritized medical students.

While extremely challenging, COVID-19, is also an enormous learning opportunity. The virus has created a myriad of logistical and capacity challenges in health care settings across Ontario, including Emergency Departments and Assessment Centres. Dr. Patel notes, “North York General’s ED teams were quick to pivot and respond to rapid changes as the virus evolved, prioritizing the safety of everyone and finding innovative ways to deliver care.” This included finding ways to reach more vulnerable populations who have great difficulty accessing care during the pandemic. The NYGH mobile testing team, made up of emergency physicians and nurses, family physicians, hospital staff and long-term care teams, fostered new community partnerships to provide barrier-free access to COVID testing.

Dr. Patel is proud to be part of the ED team. She recognizes how well staff, physicians, and learners adapt to environmental changes, whether it’s leading educational efforts to build inclusive and equitable workplace cultures, mobilizing teams to support local communities, or collaborating with a variety of specialists to ensure that every patient receives a high standard of care.

When Dr. Patel isn’t serving patients, mentoring students, or planning the next big emergency medicine conference, you can find her fulfilling her most important role – mom to amazing girls and wife to a wonderful and supportive husband.

To support the ED and more physicians like Dr. Patel to provide the best possible care and a healing environment for patients and families, NYGH’s ED needs more space.  Find out more about the North York General Foundation’s campaign to expand the Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg Emergency by clicking here. #WeNeedMoreSpace