Good morning, TeamUHN!

It is a pleasure to connect with you across care, research, and education through this weekly CEO update – all in service of A Healthier World.

Key reminders and updates

  • Welcome back from the Victoria Day long weekend. Our deepest thanks as always to those who were working in service of patients and TeamUHN.
  • Show your colleagues some gratitude and recognition by submitting a comment on the #ThanksUHN page on A selection of comments will be read at our Open Forums – the next one will take place on Tuesday, June 1. Please include your full name to have your comment posted.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to COVID-19, UHN activated its Executive COVID-19 IMS (Incident Management System) table. Membership includes our Executive Leadership Forum and other members of COVID-19 work streams. The group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a snapshot of the discussions.

Clinical Activity: Balancing TeamUHN well-being with gradual resumption of surgeries and procedures

  • Background: Both sessions of the Executive COVID-19 IMS focused on the lifting of Directive #2 – which calls for the gradual return to scheduled surgeries and procedures – given the need to continue to be ready to treat patients with COVID-19, and the need for healthcare workers to have some time to recover from what has been a difficult and exhausting time. The pressure to ramp up as quickly as possible must be balanced with the needs of TeamUHN, who have been stretched to the point of burnout and exhaustion. I know many physicians are anxious to ramp up as quickly as possible, and we will work with you through the Clinical Vice Presidents, Program Medical Directors and Directors to move as smartly as possible.
  • Who presented? Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical) and Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical)
  • What do I need to know? UHN's leadership is balancing the need to return to a level of service to patients that resumes long-delayed procedures and surgeries with the need to give everyone some time to recover from the pressures of the past year and a half, and take some vacation over the summer. The discussion of burnout and the effects of caring for the very sickest COVID patients was the main focus and leaders will be consulting their teams for advice on how best to support everyone as we come out of Wave 3.

What happened at the Executive Leadership Forum meeting

UHN's Executive Leadership Forum (ELF) represents a broad range of voices and skill sets from across the organization and provides direction and oversight in service of patients, TeamUHN and our vision of A Healthier World. See the full membership on The last ELF meeting was held on May 20, 2021.

Synapse Update: More information and activities coming in June

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: Synapse represents Clinical Transformation at UHN, supercharged by a new health information system (HIS), and is a critical safety and quality initiative. ELF receives a monthly report on Synapse as an essential part of responsible governance.
  • Who presented? Robert Slepin (Senior Project Director, HIS) and Sarah Muttitt (Chief Information Officer)
  • What do I need to know? Project activities have been adjusted to minimize impact on organizational capacity during Wave 3. Even with these adjustments, the project is progressing well toward a Spring 2022 enterprise-wide implementation. Stakeholders from across programs and departments are actively engaged in decision-making. Starting in June, TeamUHN will see more information and activities geared toward ensuring people, spaces, and processes are ready for go-live by Spring 2022.

Remote Work Policy: Update on UHN's roadmap

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: Newly developed resources to support UHN employees experiencing remote work were brought forward for feedback and discussion. The pandemic has seen over 6,000 members of TeamUHN engaged in remote work, and there have been a number of internal working groups studying the best approaches to remote work so that we may benefit individual employees and UHN as a whole. There is ample evidence that a hybrid model, which gives individuals choices about how they work within UHN, will serve the organization well now and in the future. The tools and resources being created will provide leaders and individuals with a road map for creating the best remote work experience, while serving the needs of UHN. More to come on this topic. We will be working through directors and managers to identify what positions and what on-site presence, if any, must occur.
  • Who presented? Sheila O'Brien (Executive Vice President, People, Culture & Community), Brad Wouters (Executive Vice President, Science & Research), Helen Chan (Director, Research Strategy & Development), Steven Corfe (Director, Research Facilities) and Christopher Aiken (Leader, Strategy and Planning)
  • What do I need to know?
    • Extensive consultations have taken place over the course of the pandemic to discuss how UHN might leverage remote work and optimize remote work experiences going forward.
    • Many resources have been developed to support this initiative, including a new Remote Work Policy and a Remote Work Guide; both in line with UHN's Remote Work Philosophy to "Provide our employees with the maximum flexibility in the way we work."
    • These resources will be launched as the pandemic subsides, marking the transition from Current State to UHN's New Normal and all those who wish to take advantage of these programs will have the opportunity to explore the possibilities.

KPMG: Reviewing the Internal Audit Annual Report 2020/21

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: KPMG performs an ongoing external audit of UHN to ensure we are operating as effectively as possible. Our colleagues from KPMG presented a summary of their 2020/21 audit work, which included 12 reviews across UHN.
  • Who presented? Libby Duckworth (KPMG)
  • What do I need to know? Four overall themes were identified in KPMG's review:
    1. "Contingency on Synapse" – in other words, a number of the recommendations and issues they found are expected to be resolved with the implementation of a new Health Information System.
    2. "Inconsistent operations across sites/departments" – with operations in multiple locations, there was an opportunity to streamline processes.
    3. "Informal agreements or partnership" – we interact with a number of other organizations without agreements in place to manage those relationships.
    4. "Manual nature of processes" – this theme is no surprise to anyone at UHN, but emphasizes our need to automate processes to help improve quality of work life and efficiency.

Overview of last week

TAHSN (Toronto Academic Health Science Network) CEO Committee meeting

  • Background: TAHSN is comprised of the 12 academic hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto (UofT), which includes UHN, as well as the University itself. The TAHSN CEOs convene regularly to discuss issues across our network.
  • What happened last week? University of Toronto President, Meric Gertler, joined the meeting as a guest and delivered a keynote. Women's College Hospital President, Heather McPherson, also presented on our academic recovery plans and how we will move forward this Fall.
  • What do I need to know? President Gertler discussed the importance of the UofT and TAHSN partnership, and the continued importance of our partnership as we rebound from these last 15 months of COVID-19. We also discussed the increasing importance of commercialization of the superb science developed together. We had a frank and productive exchange about recognition of the location where the education and research is actually occurring, which also relates to our respective fundraising and investment relationships.

Closing notes

Last week, UHN's Board of Trustees met for our quarterly meeting on Wednesday, May 19. We will be sending a focused recap of the discussion this week.

Shout out to our colleague Andre Bhagwandat who recently competed for the second time on MasterChef Canada! Andre has worked at UHN for the past six years as part of our Environmental Services team. He previously competed on season six of MasterChef Canada – placing in the top two – and was invited back to compete for season seven. While Andre didn't place first this season, he is still a winner in our eyes. Watch this quick and inspiring overview of Andre's story here


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Have a good week,


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