Everyone experiences periods of positive and negative mental health throughout the duration of their life. Some people live with mental health conditions like anxiety and mood disorders and experience periods of wellness and periods of poor mental health. Other individuals may not be living with a mental health condition, but can still experience periods of wellness mixed with periods of mental wellness.

This month we caught up with Kelly, one of our skilled and caring Mental Health Counsellors and asked her a few questions to help our patients and community members understand her role and how we’re here to help.

QUESTION: How does Winterberry help and support adult patient’s mental health?

KELLY: The adult population holds the majority of individuals we see at Winterberry. By utilizing a person-centred approach, the mental health counsellors seek to meet the clients where they are at in their mental health journey, and provide compassion and empathy for their concerns. Interventions can be used to address mental health concerns, but the power of providing a safe space where the client feels truly heard goes a long way. With the wrap around support of the medical staff at Winterberry, treatment plans can be tailored to each individuals needs and they can receive a number of different supports that help with mental health. If outside referrals are needed, the team works together to expedite this.

QUESTION: How does an adult know when to book an appointment based on concerns around mental health? Can you share some warning signs that additional support is needed?

KELLY: If people are feeling overwhelmed by their daily lives, this can be a good reason to reach out for mental health counselling. If individuals are experiencing anxiety, workplace stress, depression, or not enjoying things they usually enjoy, it can be a sign that your mental health is slipping. Mental health counselling can also be a great preventative measure for decreased mental wellness. Goal setting and unpacking difficult things with a professional can be very powerful, and help give adults the tools they need to navigate life’s challenges on their own.

If you or someone you love needs mental health help, please reach out to us at Winterberry.

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and we’re showcasing Winterberry’s Mental Health Team and the great work they do with our patients and community.

Up to 30% of Ontarians aged 65+ has a mental health issue, and there is growing evidence that the incidence of mental illnesses is increasing in older adults. Some seniors already have a mental health issue from earlier in life. For others, changes such as loss of loved ones, retirement, and decreasing social support networks can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety in later life.

We met up with Susana, a Winterberry Mental Health Counsellor to get more information on services for seniors:

Question: How does Winterberry help and support senior’s mental health? 

Susana: Winterberry supports patients from a wraparound model of care, ensuring all patients are provided with care that is specific to their needs, meeting them where they are at. The mental health of our patients is paramount not only for us as Mental Health Counsellors, but also for Winterberry and the entire team. Winterberry ensures seniors receive information, psychoeducation, resources, and support when it comes to their mental health. Seniors are provided with the option of speaking to a mental health counsellor, and are supported via phone, vide, or in person. 

Question: How does a senior know when to book an appointment based on concerns around mental health? Can you share some warning signs that additional support is needed? 

Based on our wraparound model of care, our staff team can support seniors in identifying when they might benefit from mental health support. Whether it be a nurse practitioner, a physician, or even a dietician, our team is dedicated to recognizing and prioritizing our patients’ needs. Seniors can be referred to mental health counsellors by any staff member, or they can call in and book themselves for an initial mental health intake. Seniors often recognize and voice out their struggles with loneliness, low mood, difficulty engaging in previously enjoyed activities, and feeling like they have limited experiences that bring them joy. As practitioners, it is important to establish a relationship with our patients that allows us to recognize these warning signs and provide the necessary resources and information so that our patients feel heard, seen, validated, and supported. 

For more information on mental health services available at Winterberry please call our office at 905‑575‑9004.

As part of our commitment to helping our patients live their best life we believe it’s important that they get to know their health care team. This month we got together with Dr. Raza to find out her role at Winterberry and a few things that make her tick. We hope you enjoy our quick Q+A!

1. Dr. Raza, what is your role at Winterberry?

I am a Primary Care Physician at Winterberry Family Medicine. I am originally from the U.K. so if you hear a Brit in the corridor or at reception, that’s me! 

2. What was your inspiration to become a family physician?

There have been many inspirations over the years. My own family physician when I was a child would have been the first. He looked after myself and my family for many years and knew about our lives in such detail. Even at a young age I recognised what an honour that was. To be invited to witness the course of people’s lives and be present alongside their families; through all the milestones. It just felt like such an incredible opportunity and I couldn’t figure out what the catch was?!

3. What is the best part of your day?

I love the “chat” with my patients in between attending to their medical concerns. Whether it’s a quick catch up about their grandchildren as they leave the room or finding out how their holiday panned out. You hear some truly wonderful stories. It’s incredibly humbling when people chose to share parts of their life with me. 

4. What do you think makes Winterberry special? 

The team is just fantastic. We have so many allied health care professionals under one roof, working together seamlessly. Everyone works extremely hard to provide the best care for our patients. A strong team really is the foundation of primary care. 

5. When you’re not at Winterberry what do you like to do? (Hobbies, sports, etc) 

When I’m not at work you will probably find me in the kitchen attempting to live out my dreams of being a pastry chef or baker extraordinaire. In another life I would be living in Paris, baking and then consuming croissants all day. It’s probably better I stick to family medicine..! 

Our promise at Winterberry is to help you live your best life. One of the best ways we can do that is to put together a team of caring, skilled and friendly healthcare providers. Happily, at Winterberry we have Rachel. Rachel manages our HR Department and is responsible for putting our team together and keeping it running smoothly and efficiently.

To celebrate Rachel’s important contribution to Winterberry we are showcasing her this month.

We caught up with Rachel in late November and asked her a few questions so you can get to know the powerhouse behind the scenes at Winterberry.

Rachel, thank you for catching up with us so we can introduce you to our patients. We know you’re very busy so we’ll keep our conversation to six questions.

1. What is your role at Winterberry? I am Winterberry’s first Human Resources Generalist, which has been an exciting development.

2. How do you help the team provide the best care possible to patients? I ensure that our team members feel appreciated and have the support they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

3. What is the best part of your job? The best part of your day? The best part of my job would be being able to provide and find answers to any questions that our team may have, or come up with a solution for a problem that has come up. My favourite part of my day would be getting to catch up with team members each morning.

4. What made you want to become part of a medical team? I have always admired and appreciated our health care workers. Growing up having a mother that was a nurse, I’ve heard many stories and knew that I could never do what health care workers do, but I’m happy that I get to be a part of a team that provides essential health care support to our community.

5. What do you think makes Winterberry special? Winterberry provides such a well-rounded, complete care program for our patients. We have such a large team who are all so knowledgeable and compassionate, I think that’s what makes Winterberry stand out and have become such a well-known name in the community.

6. When you’re not at Winterberry what do you like to do? I love going to new restaurants and trying new foods. I also enjoy walking my bernadoodle, Ella, who is always on the lookout for squirrels. And lastly, I love playing volleyball that I get to do weekly for a co-ed league.

Thank you for sharing with us Rachel, we appreciate all you do for Winterberry and thank you!

According to the Government of Canada, clinical trials are essential scientific studies that evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and outcomes of health interventions such as vaccines and treatments used across Canada to protect Canadians from diseases. These trials can improve health outcomes for Canadians while ensuring Canada is well-positioned to respond to future pandemics and other health priorities. 

Clinical research is a top priority for our government with the Ministry of Health saying this in June:

“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all Canadians by ensuring we have the best available treatments. The Clinical Trials Fund will strengthen Canada’s expertise in clinical research and enable researchers across the country to move their discoveries into clinical phases of development. This will ensure that Canada remains well positioned to respond to future pandemics or other health emergencies.”

At Winterberry we are committed to helping our patients live their best life and an important part of that is contributing our resources to clinical trials. This is why we have a dedicated Winterberry Clinical Research Team.

This month we caught up with Jorell Gantioqui and Jennifer Stevens, our Clinical Research Coordinators and asked them a few questions that will help our readers get to know this valuable team more:

What makes Winterberry special when it comes to helping with clinical trials?

With our resources, highly skilled health care team and diverse patient population, we are in the unique position of being able to participate, in a meaningful way, with major clinical trials. We enthusiastically participate in order to contribute to finding solutions that enhance quality of life while ensuring that these solutions are safe and effective.  

What is most rewarding about being part of our Clinical Research team?

Jennifer: Being a part of the future of medicine! We are helping to provide the necessary data for upcoming and new treatments and immunizations. 

Why would a patient participate in Clinical Research?

Jorell: Patients who are interested in participating do so for a variety of reasons but their primary interest is often that they want to be part of improving health outcomes not only for themselves, but for others. It’s important that our patients know that we  choose to participate only in quality studies that are as low risk, safe, and beneficial for the patients as possible. 

Once a patient signs up to participate in a Clinical Trial, what can they expect from Winterberry?

Jorell: Our research team is dedicated to ensuring each study participant is safe and feels supported throughout their time in a study. If they have questions or need any information, we’re all here to help. 

What would you say to a patient who was interested in participating?

Jorell: First, it’s important to always remember that research is a voluntary process. We do our best to hand pick studies, make sure patients know exactly what they are getting into and have great staff to guide them through the whole process. If you are willing and able, research always needs people in order to help people in the future. If they want more information on available studies, they can call our Research line at Winterberry: 365 366 6267.

What Clinical Trials is Winterberry participating in right now?

  • Diabetes studies
  • Covid-19, mRNA vaccine studies
  • Moderna RSV vaccine study

What interests you most about Clinical Research?

Jennifer: I’m impressed by how much work, time, and cost goes into it. Before joining the research team, I did not realize how much actually goes into clinical research studies. It is a very meticulous process and it takes time and dedication to be part of the research team.

To find out more about participating in a Clinical Trial please reach out to our team at 365 366 6267. Participants are often compensated for their time.

At Winterberry, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are at the heart of our clinic and our patients benefit from their important role in their care. 

Many of our patients are very familiar with the roles that doctors and nurses play in their healthcare but they’re not sure of how an NP fits in. We’re writing this article so you can understand what NPs do and how they contribute to our excellent standard of care. Plus we’re going to introduce you to a few of our team’s Nurse Practitioners.

First, who can be an NP?

According to the Nurse Practitioners Association of Ontario (https://npao.org/) a Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced university education who provides personalized, quality health care to patients. Ontario nurse practitioners provide a full range of health care services to individuals, families and communities in a variety of settings including hospitals and community based clinics in cities and smaller towns inOntario. We work in partnership with physicians, nurses and other health care professionals such as social workers, midwives, mental health professionals and pharmacists to keep you, your family and your community well.

Second, what can an NP do?

Nurse practitioners assess, diagnose, treat and monitor a wide range of health problems using an evidence based approach to their practice. They consult and collaborate with physicians and other health care professionals to meet the needs of the patient population. Chronic disease management, health promotion and illness prevention, as well as helping patients navigate through the health care system are integral to their approach to patient care. Engaging patients as full partners in their care plan with attention to self-care to the extent that patients are willing and able to participate is an important aspect of the underlying philosophy of NPLCs. In addition, nurse practitioners are experts in community health care needs assessment and program planning, implementation and evaluation. These programs are targeted to specific health care needs identified in collaboration with their communities.

At Winterberry our team consists of many Nurse Practitioners, each of them a valuable and respected member of our healthcare team. It’s important to us that you get to know our NPs and to help that along, we’re sharing parts of conversations we had with a few NPs this past month:  

Meet Marijana Zubrinic

PHC Nurse Practitioner


Q: Marijana, what is the best part of your day as a Nurse Practitioner at Winterberry? 

​A: The best parts of my day are doing home visits and being able to provide medical care in a patient’s home when they are unable to come into the office.

Q: What inspired you to become a Nurse Practitioner? 

A: ​Being an NP allows me to see patients and have that direct patient care aspect as part of my role.  Another benefit of being a NP is being able to take on more leadership activities and build on my leadership skills 

Q: What unique strengths/skills do Nurse Practitioners bring to the healthcare team?

A: A unique strength is being able to practice medicine independently within our knowledge, judgment and skill. Most NPs have a special interest or an area they specialize in that allows them to be the expert for other members of the healthcare team​

Meet Christine Burgsma

PHC Nurse Practitioner MN, BScN

Q: Christine, what inspired you to become a Nurse Practitioner? 

A: I wanted to become a Nurse Practitioner for a few reasons, one of which was my desire to better educate myself and gain more knowledge in healthcare. I also looked forward to utilizing my nursing abilities in a more autonomous role and in a primary care setting. As a NP, I thoroughly enjoy working to my full NP scope and being able to provide holistic care for patients.  Being a NP can be very rewarding, and when you make a positive influence in a patient’s life, big or small, it makes the job worth it! 

Q: What unique strengths/skills do Nurse Practitioners bring to the healthcare team?

 A: I feel the strengths of Nurse Practitioners as a whole include their ability to deliver compassionate and quality care to patients. Nurse practitioners serve as good advocates for their patients, and are able to incorporate their practical, social, and empathetic nursing skills into their practice. 

Meet Melissa Schuurman

Nurse Practitioner 


Q: Melissa, what is the best part of your day as a Nurse Practitioner at Winterberry?

A: I thoroughly enjoy the staff at Winterberry Family Medicine. The team dynamic and collaborative approach is so refreshing from all disciplines. Everyone always works hard and we all have the same goal in mind – optimal patient care and top-notch patient satisfaction.

Q: What inspired you to become a Nurse Practitioner?

A: My 10 years of experience as a nurse has been centered around providing acute care in the hospital setting. Over these years I have seen my patient’s pain and suffering from various acute and complications of chronic illnesses. My goal in primary care is to prevent hospitalizations by providing adequate health advice, education, and counseling on how to avoid such adverse outcomes from these illnesses or overcoming illnesses entirely. I truly believe this starts from the primary care perspective. 

Q: What unique strengths/skills do Nurse Practitioners bring to the healthcare team?

A: Nurse practitioners are quite unique in their ability to communicate and establish rapport with their patients. It has been ingrained in us to ensure we are viewing our patients as a whole. Our educational experience, as well as my personal experience working alongside many nurses/nurse practitioners over the years, embraces the therapeutic nurse(practitioner) – patient relation. 

Where can I get even more information on Nurse Practitioners?

Our clinic baseball team is in full “swing” and going strong. It’s been a great weekly outing for us and we are half way through the season. We have planned a team outing to a Blue Jays game on August 12th that our Casual Friday donations are helping pay for. More then half of the clinic staff will be attending as well as spouses. Game on!

At Winterberry we’re proud of the unique team approach we take to helping our patients live their best life. This month we’re showcasing a part of our team that works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, counsellors and complementary healthcare providers have what they need to care for you, our patients.

What part of our team are we talking about?

Our administrative team.

This group of dedicated and highly skilled professionals keep our clinic running efficiently and our patients well cared for. And while you may not see them at your next appointment, they’re an essential part of your care here at Winterberry.

Our administrative team is led by Julie, a supervisor who’s deeply proud of the team she leads. To help you get to know her team better, we asked Julie a series of questions and are publishing her answers below. Read on to get a better understanding of how the administrative team works, what their duties are and how you can reach them if you need to.

Q: Julie, as the Administrative Supervisor, what’s the best part of your day at Winterberry?

​The best part of my day is in the morning, when the Admin Team arrives with smiles on their faces, ready to start their day. We have a quick “huddle” before patients arrive to discuss the day’s expectations and how the Team can reach their goals effectively while keeping a positive attitude.

Q: Who is on your administrative team and what do the different roles do? 

Our wonderful team includes: Nicole, Alexis, Chelsea, Selena, Sonya, Tracy, Kristen, Ranna, Wendy, Erin M and Amanda. We also have Brittney, Lindsay and Rebecca who not only are part of the administrative team, but also a HUGE part of our Billing Department, as well. Every member of our team works together to ensure that each patient gets the right care, at the right time.

Q: Julie, if you had a goal in mind in terms of patient care what would it be?

We want each patient to have the BEST experience here at Winterberry.

Julie, Administrative Supervisor

Q: What’s a typical day look like for the administrative team?

​A typical day includes answering and triaging incoming calls, scheduling appointments, managing patient arrivals and requests, updating charts, as well as faxing and scanning reports. But most of all, because patients come first, its our job to make sure that they feel welcome and heard.

Q: As a patient, how does the administrative team help me?

​We’re here to provide you with the best patient experience and that includes assuring patient privacy and excellent care. Those are our TOP priorities.

Q: When you’re looking to hire more people for your team, what qualities are you looking for?

​When hiring new people we’re looking for the following qualities: Team player, problem solver, can work well with others and or independently, has great communications skills and with excellent organization skills. But most of all, a willingness to make a difference in someone’s life.

Q: Julie, any last messages you want to share about the Winterberry administrative team?

​I couldn’t be more proud of our administrative team! Because of them, I love my job even more. They work extremely hard each day and are dedicated to ensuring our patients live their BEST life!

If you need to reach the administrative team or have questions they can answer please reach out to them by calling the clinic at 905-575-9004.