Good Monday morning,

1. Addressing the evolving coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation 

Canada is managing two presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus. The first, a man in his fifties, is currently being managed by our colleagues at Sunnybrook. His wife, who has been in isolation at home since arriving from China, is now symptomatic. Public Health is tracing passengers on the aircraft who were sitting within two metres of the couple. Here at UHN, we are working closely with partners across the system using a calm, methodological approach in anticipation of further cases. 

We would appreciate your help in increasing our screening for patients who have traveled to China recently in ambulatory and non-Emergency Department settings. While Wuhan is the original city affected, it is clear that more cities in China are seeing cases of the novel coronavirus. Please follow the advice of our colleagues in IPAC (Infection Prevention & Control):

  • Make sure your clinic is consistently asking all patients if they have travelled recently in China or have been in close contact with individuals who have. Clinics need to ask all patients about new infectious symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, and recent travel. This should be happening in every ambulatory care area of UHN, in addition to the Emergency Departments.
  • Mask fit testing: Please contact Occupational Health & Safety if required. 
  • Practice the usual precautions when working with patients who have an unknown respiratory illness. Clean your hands consistently before and after care, and follow the instructions for use of personal protective equipment for isolated patients. If you think you may come in contact with a patient’s respiratory secretions, wear a mask and eye protection.
  • Get your flu shot if you haven’t already: Available at Occupational Health & Safety and our pharmacies. Protect yourself from the respiratory illness you are most likely to get – the flu!

On behalf of UHN’s Board of Trustees and Senior Management Forum, I’d like to thank our colleagues at UHN, Sunnybrook and around the world who are ensuring the needs of patients come first during this time of worry – and for using research and evidence to assuage any fears. Special thanks to Susy Hota (Medical Director, IPAC), Carly Rebelo (Manager, IPAC) and Alon Vaisman (Infection Control Physician) for their leadership in managing this situation. 

If you have specific questions about the coronavirus, see this Slido Q&A page set up by our colleagues in IPAC. When reports of a new coronavirus initially surfaced last week from Wuhan in China, we received numerous questions about how this could impact UHN. Susy, Carly and Alon were quick to get this page up and responded directly to the submissions on the Slido page. This is a great example of unleashing the power of technology to support TeamUHN.  


2. Highlights on UHN's Essentials

UHN’s Essentials are essential to the work we do as a leading academic health sciences centre – hence the name! Read here to learn more. Below, you’ll find highlights on UHN’s Essentials from last week.

Compassionate Care and Caring  100,000 patients registered on myUHN Patient Portal – terrific news for our goal of providing patients and caregivers with equitable access to their information. Shout out to the myUHN Support Team in Patient Experience, UHN Digital, and all our frontline colleagues who are helping patients gain access to their data. myUHN Patient Portal is celebrating its 3-year anniversary on Jan. 30 (11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) at the Toronto General Patient and Family Library. Everyone is invited to join the festivities. 

People and Culture  Reminder: You are invited to attend UHN’s next Strategy Forum meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28 (Toronto General Anthony S. Fell Boardroom). Updated agenda here. Great to hear there is so much interest in seeing various programs present. Seating in the gallery is available on a first come first serve basis. For those catching up, UHN’s Strategy Forum is an advisory committee to our Executive Leadership Forum and offers diverse intergenerational perspectives to accelerate to evolution of UHN. Presentations will be posted online. 

People and Culture  Celebrating long-serving staff from the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TGWHF) at their annual recognition dinner: Fundraising has evolved significantly over the years, but one thing that remains true is the importance of relationships. We have those thanks to dedicated and loyal staff. It was a pleasure to celebrate a number of colleagues including Stuart Heard (Director, Special Projects) who celebrated 20 years at TGWHF.


3. Taking collective action on improving wellness across Toronto’s academic hospitals 

We are facing unprecedented clinical pressures at UHN. But while that makes it more challenging to improve quality of work life, that doesn’t make it impossible. 

Last week, I attended the TAHSN (Toronto Academic Health Science Network) CEO Committee retreat, where the leaders of Toronto’s academic hospitals came together to discuss how we can improve the wellness of those in healthcare. One of my takeaways came from a presentation by Bonnie Kirsh from the University of Toronto’s Department of Occupational Science and Therapy. She discussed the effects of Karasek’s demand-control model, which is one of the most widely studied models of occupational stress. It suggests that highly demanding jobs with low autonomy lead to reduced well-being, whereas highly demanding jobs with high autonomy are actually where performance and learning are highest – despite equivalent pressures.

The importance of autonomy and having the ability to influence change reinforces the efforts we’ve been making to empower everyone here. For example, our Open Forums are built entirely around questions submitted by TeamUHN. We are also soliciting feedback through Thoughtexchange, which is another digital platform that allows us to crowdsource ideas. UHN’s harm reduction policy, for example. That said, I know we have a lot of work in order for this mentality to permeate the entire organization beyond corporate-level initiatives, and am grateful you are all willing to help. 

At the end of the TAHSN retreat, we defined action plans and key recommendations that we will endorse at our next meeting. Burnout is a pervasive issue across the entire health sector. Toronto’s academic hospitals are taking collective action!  

Have a good week, 

Kevin

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