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

  • Tomorrow on Tuesday, May 4 (12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) – Virtual Open Forum on COVID-19.
    • Read answers to FAQs here – updated regularly (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Virtual Open Forum (top right box) > Open Forum FAQ).
    • Submit questions here including your full name or enter #UHNCOVID-19x45 on Including your full name will help support transparency and collegiality at UHN.
    • Livestream link here (Chrome/Firefox).
  • Building COVID-19 vaccine confidence at UHN and in the community:
    • Watch the new video series #GiveitaShot where members of TeamUHN talk about their reasons for getting the vaccine. Thank you to those who shared their personal experience. Building vaccine confidence will be increasingly important as vaccination ramps up in the coming weeks. Click here for the UHN News story about this campaign and full gallery.
    • CHIN Radio has launched a multilingual COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign in partnership with UHN and Women's College Hospital. Thanks to all members of TeamUHN who volunteered to record vaccine confidence messages in different languages. These messages will be broadcasted on CHIN radio stations in Toronto and Ottawa throughout May. Check the CHIN Radio website for channels and programming. Many thanks to Grace Lombardi, UHN Foundation Board member, for making this possible.
  • Our new colleagues from Newfoundland and Labrador completed their orientation last week. If you missed their arrival, see this photo and Twitter post here. We have six nurses working in our ICUs and one physician working on the COVID-19 ward at Toronto Western. The two remaining physicians are transferring to William Osler Health System, which is facing extraordinary pressure. We are so grateful to these remarkable and generous colleagues for travelling so far to help patients and TeamUHN.

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 discussion.

Clinical capacity: Update on UHN's Critical Care Expansion Plan

  • Background: Ontario is nearing 900 patients in our ICUs and projections suggest we could see considerably more demand by mid-May. If this rate continues, we may be requested by Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health to expand our capacity. In response, we are planning for a possible critical care expansion at UHN; an update was sent to UHN's Acute Care Program Executive and Acute Care Program Operational Leaders last week. At Toronto General, we are expecting to open an additional 27 beds on an incremental basis this week and next. The first units will be PACU and 6B. At Toronto Western, we will continue to follow the ICU surge plan developed in December 2020 – we currently remain in Phase 1 which includes 10 additional beds. I want to thank the colleagues who are doing a great deal of work to expand access to patients in need during this most challenging period.
  • Who presented? Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical), Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical)
  • What do I need to know? Our Critical Care Expansion Plan will include changes to models of care, staffing ratios and converting units. The phasing and triggering of new units will progress based on patient need and will be decided at the Critical Care Expansion Committee and COVID-19 Capacity Management Committee, following direction from Ontario Health.

Staffing: Nursing and implementing UHN's Daily Heat Map

  • Background: Staffing remains a pressure point across the health system, especially in nursing and allied health. To help identify staffing issues during Wave 3, we've launched a Daily Heat Map at UHN that will inform staffing decisions and enable us to proactively address challenges. With the help of our unit managers, we've created a resource that gives us a line of sight on the daily staffing levels of each unit. Units are classified according to a simple colour category scheme so we can observe trends and plan accordingly. This work is led by Jonas Eriksson (Clinical Research Leader) and Peter Ash (Manager, Strategy & Transformation – Patient Experience and Collaborative Academic Practice) from the CAP (Collaborative Academic Practice) Strategy team.
  • Who presented? Joy Richards (Vice President, Patient Experience; Chief Health Professions)
  • What do I need to know? The Daily Heat Map is shared at huddles and enables Managers, Clinical Directors and Physician Leaders to quickly address emerging issues at the unit, program and UHN network level.

Staffing: Launching a New Clinical Extern program

  • Background: We continue to face staffing challenges across the health system, especially in nursing and allied health as discussed above. In response, UHN is partnering with both the University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Ministry of Health Enhanced Extern Program in an innovative Education and Human Resources initiative that enables students to work as Clinical Externs outside of their schooling. Mandy Lowe (Senior Director, Clinical Education) has been redeployed to oversee this work and is collaborating with CAP (Collaborative Academic Practice), Clinical Operations, Health Services, Occupational Safety, Patient Engagement, Wightman-Berris Academy, Clinical Education and beyond.
  • Who presented? Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President, Education; Chief Medical Officer), Diana Elder (Vice President, Human Resources)
  • What do I need to know? Senior students enrolled in certain academic programs – Medicine, Nursing, Paramedic and Respiratory Therapy – are eligible to work as Clinical Externs. Externs provide assistance as unregulated healthcare providers and are authorized to work under the supervision of healthcare providers, as part of an interprofessional team. If you know someone who may be interested in applying, please share this Extern job posting.

Overview of last week

Quality and Safety Committee of the Board: Discussing the post-pandemic world

  • Background: UHN's Quality and Safety Committee is chaired by Ross Baker (UHN Board Trustee). This Board-level committee reviews the quality of care at UHN and makes recommendations to UHN's Board of Trustees as required.
  • What happened last week? Laura Williams (Director, Patient Experience) started the meeting on a positive note by sharing compliments from patients expressing their gratitude. The committee then discussed UHN's COVID-19 response, including our vaccine strategies, reduction in surgical activity and its implications, overall activity, and updates from across the region.
  • What do I need to know? Several issues were discussed at the meeting that will remain on our radar in the post-pandemic world – including inter-hospital planning and inter-hospital collaboration on programs (i.e. building on the success of the GTA IMS Table), using improved data and analytics to manage workflows, and recognizing that we will need a sustained effort to protect TeamUHN well-being beyond COVID-19, as the health system addresses the mounting clinical backlog. Finally, we know that we need to keep clinical learners in the pipeline (as discussed above) or else there will be no healthcare professionals to hire in the future – a Human Resources issue that is inextricably linked to Quality and Safety.

Closing notes

Show your colleagues some gratitude and recognition on the #ThanksUHN page on We all benefit when we are good to one another. Shout out a colleague or team here or go to and enter #ThanksUHN. A selection of comments will be read at our Open Forums. Please include your full name to have your comment posted.

May is Vision Health Month. According to the CNIB, "an estimated 1.5 million Canadians identify themselves as having a sight loss, while an estimated 5.59 million more have an eye disease that could cause sight loss." At the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at UHN, clinicians and researchers work side-by-side to pursue new treatments and cures for vision-related illnesses, such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Read all about the team's groundbreaking work in the 2020 Vision magazine [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available].

This week (May 2-8) is Emergency Preparedness Week, a nationwide initiative to encourage Canadians to stay prepared for the unexpected. This year, the theme is Emergency Preparedness: Be Ready for Anything – which reminds us that being prepared can greatly reduce the impact and stress of any emergency. As we continue to battle the impact of COVID-19, UHN's Emergency Preparedness Department extends their support and admiration to all members of TeamUHN for their unwavering commitment to the COVID-19 response. In return, we extend our appreciation to these valued colleagues! For tips and guidance to help you and your family prepare for emergencies, please review UHN's Personal Preparedness at a Glance poster.


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Have a good week,


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