Dr. Sandy Buchman to Lead Palliative Care at North York General Hospital

Jul 8, 2019
In a move that further signifies the strengthening relationship between family medicine and palliative care, faculty member Dr. Sandy Buchman is the new the inaugural Freeman Family Chair in Palliative Care at North York General Hospital (NYGH). As part of this role, he will also be the new Medical Director of the Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care at NYGH.

In 2000, the Freeman family established the Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care to improve the palliative care experience of patients at North York General Hospital.  An unprecedented service at the time, the family was driven to provide compassionate, patient-centered, and community-based service to support palliative care patients and their families in their homes.

Dr. Buchman has had a long career practicing family medicine with a special interest in palliative care. He was involved with the Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless (PEACH) program out of Inner City Health Associates in Toronto and provided home-based palliative and end-of-life care through the Tammy Latner Centre for Palliative Care in Toronto for nearly fifteen years.

Currently, Dr. Buchman is about to become the 2019-2020 President of the Canadian Medical Association. He will begin his five-year term at NYGH in summer 2020, after the completion of his time at the Canadian Medical Association.

“As more people are living with chronic and life-limiting diseases, we know that a palliative approach comforts, a compassionate approach is what people want and what helps them make the right decisions all along,” says Buchman. “It's not only about dealing with the physical symptoms but the psychosocial and the spiritual demands they're suffering. That's family medicine and it’s why family doctors are so well suited to providing palliative care.”

Many people – including some family doctors – can have misunderstandings about palliative care, says Buchman, which he hopes to help address in his role.

“I do think the public has a lack of understanding that palliative care is just end of life care - you know the very last days or hours of life. Palliative care is about developing an ongoing conversation with a patient and their family about what's ahead and how to make the best-informed decisions.”

Dr. Buchman is also a vocal advocate for equity to access in palliative care and wants to explore ways to provide more access to palliative care for vulnerable and marginalized populations at NYGH.

“We have to improve access to the general population, but even more challenging we have to improve the equity to access in palliative care or our vulnerable populations,” says Buchman. “Journey Home Hospice is an example of how we can address the palliative care issues of our more vulnerable marginalized populations, and I hope that's the sort of values that I can bring to North York as well.”

Dr. Buchman’s five-year term will begin in summer 2020 after the completion of his term as the President of the CMA.