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Toronto Rehab celebrates Canadian-first in spinal cord rehab

​​​​​Bill Barrable, CEO, Rick Hansen Institute
(L to R): Bill Barrable, CEO, Rick Hansen Institute, Leslee Thompson, CEO, Accreditation Canada, Susan Jewell, Senior Vice President and Executive Lead, Toronto Rehab-UHN,; Joanne Zee, Senior Clinical Director, Heather Flett, Advanced Practice Leader and Dr. Cathy Craven, Medical Lead, Brain and Spinal Cord Rehab Program, Toronto Rehab. (Photo: Visual Services UHN)​

Toronto Rehab's Lyndhurst Centre is the first Canadian rehabilitation hospital to successfully complete and achieve 100 per cent in the Spinal Cord Injury Rehab Accreditation standards developed by the Rick Hansen Institute in partnership with Accreditation Canada.

This February, Lyndhurst hosted a special event to celebrate the milestone achievement in spinal cord rehabilitation.

'A critical role in our healthcare system'

Susan Jewell, Senior Vice President and Executive Lead at Toronto Rehab-UHN, emceed the event and welcomed special guests Lynn Guerriero, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, who spent six years of her career at Toronto Rehab; and Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute.

Image of Lynn Guerriero
Special guest Lynn Guerriero, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, joined the event to congratulate Lyndhurst Centre on completing the new spinal cord injury rehab standards. (Photo: Visual Services UHN)

"This place really feels like home for me and always will. I have an incredible passion for rehab – it plays a critical role in our health system for the patients and families it serves," says Lynn.

"Patients arrive here in all sorts of shapes and sizes – and their functional outcome will ultimately be determined here."

Lynn adds that this was a noteworthy achievement demonstrating how Toronto Rehab and the Spinal Cord Rehab team are national leaders in delivering safe and quality care to patients with spinal cord injuries.

Optimizing care for Canadians living with spinal cord injuries

In 2012, the Rick Hansen Institute partnered with Accreditation Canada (AC) to develop comprehensive and evidence-based standards for spinal cord injury (SCI) care, as part of AC's existing Qmentum Accreditation Program.

Implementation of these standards through policy and practice changes will help standardize and optimize care for people with spinal cord injuries in Canada.

"The Rick Hansen Institute is delighted to join Toronto Rehab in celebrating Lyndhurst Centre's accreditation for the use of spinal cord injury rehab standards," says Bill.

"This achievement speaks to the quality and leadership demonstrated by Lyndhurst, and sets an example of excellence in standards leading to better outcomes for patients."

Image of Joanne Zee

Joanne Zee, Senior Clinical Director, Brain and Spinal Cord Program at Toronto Rehab.​ (Photo: Visual Services UHN)


'Lyndhurst is a designated provincial specialized program – and we don't take that lightly'

Special acknowledgements:

  • The members of the Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Quality Council and Accreditation team and especially the past co-chairs, Kristina Guy, Physiotherapy Practice Leader, and Lily Yang, former manager at Lyndhurst, who embraced this challenge with courage.

  • Lynn Coukos, Manager of Lyndhurst's 2B team and her entire staff for being the first at Lyndhurst to achieve accreditation with these standards.

  • Heather Flett, Advanced Practice Leader, and Jennifer Mokry, Manager, Special Projects and Rumsey Site Lead, Brain and Spinal Cord Rehab Program, who will carry the torch on Spinal Cord Rehab Accreditation Standards moving forward.

  • The Brain and Spinal Cord Program's executive leadership team: Dr. Mark Bayley, Medical Director; Dr. Cathy Craven, Physician Lead; and Senior Clinical Director, Joanne Zee.​​

Joanne Zee, Senior Clinical Director of the Brain and Spinal Cord Program at Toronto Rehab remembers when conversations around SCI standards began – she was about one year into her role at Lyndhurst.

"When we reviewed the regular Rehabilitation Standards with Accreditation Canada, we knew it wasn't enough to raise the bar for our program," says Joanne. 

"Lyndhurst is a designated provincial specialized program for spinal cord rehabilitation and we don't take that responsibility lightly."

General rehabilitation standards do not cover areas of practice specific and essential to spinal cord care, Joanne explains. 

For example, only in spinal cord injury is the impact on every system in the body seen. Specifically, the control systems that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, bowel, bladder and respiratory system – they no longer operate the same way after the injury. If these systems aren't assessed and managed appropriately, the consequences can be fatal.

These standards will help ensure Toronto Rehab offers advanced quality of care to patients and improves outcomes for Canadians who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Congratulations to Lyndhurst Centre staff on this milestone achievement and special thanks to the Rick Hansen Institute, Accreditation Canada, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario & Canada and all of our community and government partners for their ongoing support and commitment to the continuous pursuit of excellence in spinal cord rehabilitation standards.​

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