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Your health-care team

At St. Michael’s Hospital, professionals from many different fields work together as a team in which each professional has a specific role and responsibilities. This ensures you receive the best care and support possible. Below, please find the members of your health care team you may meet during your visits to the Neurosurgery and Neuro-Oncology departments.

+ Neurosurgeons

These are surgeons who are highly specialized to operate on the brain or spine.

Dr. Julian Spears Dr. Sunit Das Dr. Michael Cusimano
Dr. Julian SpearsDr. Sunit Das Dr. Michael Cusimano


Dr. Howard Ginsberg Dr. Jeff WilsonDr. Richard Perrin
Dr. Howard GinsbergDr. Jeff Wilson Dr. Richard Perrin

+ Oncologist

Dr. Haider Samawi

Dr. Haider Samawi is a medical Oncologist at St Michael’s Hospital. His clinical practice focuses on the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, breast cancer and neuro-oncology and is heavily involved with building the multidisciplinary neuro-oncology clinic at St. Michael’s hospital. He completed his residency in internal medicine and medical oncology at the University of Calgary. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2015. Following residency, Dr. Samawi completed fellowship in Health Services Research at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. His research interests are in clinical trials, real-world health outcomes in cancer patients and cancer survivorship. His research received international recognition such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit award. In addition, Dr. Samawi is an active member of the Hematology-Oncology Clinical Research Group.

+ Fellows and residents

These are doctors training to become brain surgeons or training for other specialties. They are part of your health-care team and answer to a neurosurgeon.

+ Nurse practitioners

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. NPs work together with many other health professionals. In particular, they consult with physicians, as required by the needs of their patients.

+ Pharmacists

Pharmacists working in the Neurosurgery inpatient unit are familiar with any drugs you may be taking, such as steroids and anti-seizure therapy. They will meet with you in order to ensure that you are getting the right medicine as well as to discuss any potential side-effects.

+ Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists work with your family and your health-care team to plan for your discharge home. They teach you how to get in and out of bed as well as how to walk after your surgery. Physiotherapists also help with equipment needs, home and community supports and home exercise programs.

+ Social worker

Social workers are an integral part of the health care team. They are dedicated to helping patients and families navigate the health care system, and manage the many challenges of living with a serious illness.  

We recognize that a diagnosis like cancer, and its treatment, can impact all aspects of a person's life, from family and social relationships to work and finances.

Our social workers assess a person's individual needs and provide appropriate support. This may include short-term counseling, advocacy and linkage to community resources. Social workers also provide information and education about insurance, advance care planning, palliative care, family caregiver leave, transportation and support programs available in the community.

      + Registered dietitian

Brain or spine tumour treatments can often cause a change in your eating habits. Registered dietitians are available to help you cope with any weight changes, eating issues or special diets.

      + Speech-language pathologists

Speech-language pathologists are members of your health care team, who help manage and assess communication and/or swallowing difficulties related to your illness. 

They can also provide counseling and education during your inpatient stay, ensuring that you have adequate information and appropriate support services upon your discharge from the hospital. 

      + Spiritual care provider

Members of the Spiritual Care team provide emotional and spiritual support to patients, families and staff.   They individualize each intervention based on the person’s core beliefs and their needs for psychotherapeutic support (trauma counseling, CBT, psycho-education, grief counseling, art therapy). They can provide links to religious communities, provide spiritual care support when patients have important decisions to think about, have been given life changing news, or are facing ethical and emotional distress. They are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

      + Aboriginal patient navigator

The role of the Aboriginal patient navigator has been created by Cancer Care Ontario to meet the unique needs identified by the Aboriginal community. The Aboriginal patient navigator provides support and advocacy to First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis adult patients and their families accessing cancer services in the phases of screening, diagnosis, treatment, recovery/survivorship, palliative, end of life. This role provides a holistic approach in addressing the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and cultural needs of patients and their families.