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

  • Keep everyone safe by masking, physical distancing and practicing good hand hygiene. More and more members of TeamUHN are getting vaccinated which is important – just remember that vaccination complements all critical public health measures. It does not replace them.
  • Launching a series of Pandemic Essays at UHN – starting with emergency medicine physician Dawn Lim's piece: "Don't call me a superhero if you expect that to mean I don't need help." It is a powerful read and we already have another one to look forward to today from Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical). This forward-looking series will be written by various members of TeamUHN and reflect on the widespread effects of the pandemic. The essays will be released via UHN News over the coming weeks, as we mark the first anniversary of the declaration of the global pandemic on March 11.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to the concerning state of 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.

COVID-19 variants of concern

  • Background: The number of COVID-19 cases is growing again across our local region. The reproduction number for cases in Toronto is now above 1, compared to 0.84 at the beginning of February. The number of variant cases is also increasing and following a highly concerning trajectory. Approximately 20% of current cases across Ontario are associated with the three main variants of concern (screening not in place for other variants yet) and provincial data projects they are likely to make up 40% of cases by mid-March.
  • Who presented? Susy Hota (Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control), John Granton (Interim Medical Director, Health Services) and Brad Wouters (Executive Vice President, Science & Research)
  • What do I need to know? Help save lives and accelerate our collective return to normalcy by masking, physically distancing and not gathering unnecessarily with people outside of your household. In addition, stay up to date with our Health Services (formerly Occupational Health) protocols (e.g. what to do if you had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19) so we can keep patients and TeamUHN safe (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Health and Safety).

Clinical capacity and staffing

  • Background: The biggest issue impacting our ability to serve patients at UHN continues to be staffing. Thank you to all the frontline managers who are working to adjust schedules and adapt to the number of colleagues who are on leave. Given the higher rates of transmission for variants of concern, we are also anticipating that quarantine requirements may become an added pressure on staffing. We are working with Toronto Public Health to ensure we are following quarantine measures that will keep everyone, including healthcare workers, safe.
  • Who presented? Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical), Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical)
  • What do I need to know? UHN is hiring nursing professionals including RNs at Princess Margaret and RNs at Toronto General and Toronto Western. Please share our openings with any connections you have and send the contact information of interested individuals to Veronica Deally (Sourcing Specialist –

COVID-19 vaccine planning for people over the age of 80

  • Background: Now that we have more supply coming into the province – and a more streamlined approach thanks to lessons collectively learned from Ontario's vaccine pilot – we are now planning for the vaccination of individuals over the age of 80 within defined groups that UHN can contact. We were given permission to hit the ground running with this population last week by Ontario's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. The mobile teams, which are led by Toronto Public Health, UHN and other partners, have started by vaccinating seniors in congregate settings. We are also getting ready to launch a vaccine pilot for seniors 80+ who already receive care through our Family Health Teams at UHN and partners across the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team. Once we've tested the approach, we will then work collectively to vaccinate people aged 80+ who have been patients at UHN in the past two years. We will also work with others to continue vaccinating using the mobile teams in settings where seniors live.
  • Who presented? Emily Musing (Vice President, Clinical; Chief Patient Safety Officer), Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President, Education; Chief Medical Officer) and Shiran Isaacksz (Vice President, Connected Care and Altum Health)
  • What do I need to know? Our vaccine strategy for people aged 80+ will be guided by our colleagues in Bioethics to ensure we are prioritizing those at highest risk. We know this population has unique needs (i.e. they cannot travel far to our clinics downtown) and we will use a client-focused approach to address them.

Overview of last week

1. Open Forum change: Support a culture where speaking up is encouraged by adding your full name to Slido questions

  • Background: We introduced Open Forums to encourage transparent, two-way communication at UHN. In support of this goal, we are introducing a new practice where you add your full name to your question. The literature shows that a dependence on anonymous feedback can actually have negative consequences – it implies that it's not safe to share your views openly in your organization, creating the need for anonymous channels. It is better to foster a culture where people see it's safe to speak up. I know it takes courage to do this and, while some of you have expressed your support of this change, some have written in about your fear of repercussion. Here is a helpful resource published in The Conversation that may help you frame your questions. Leaders, please remember that it can be hard for colleagues to come forward due to perceptions of power and authority. That same resource can help you respond to questions in an encouraging way.
  • What happened last week? At last week's Open Forum, we introduced a new practice which is to add your full name to your question. Questions without names will not be approved moving forward.
  • What do I need to know? We all want to work in an environment where we feel safe, valued and heard. People will feel safer speaking up if they see it modelled across the organization – so let's work together and start this practice at our UHN-wide Virtual Open Forums.

Closing notes

Sign up now for UHN's COVID-19 Vaccine Registry if you haven’t already – and remember to keep an eye on your email inbox. It's important to get everyone registered so we can move quickly when we have supply. Share this information with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up here [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available] (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness page > Vaccine Information).

March is Liver Health Month. Thank you to our colleagues across UHN and beyond who are advancing liver care, research and education in service of patients and A Healthier World. UHN is home to the Francis Family Liver Clinic which includes staff hepatologists, clinical fellows, residents, Nurse Practitioners, statisticians, clinic and treatment nurses, research nurses and coordinators, and administrative and clerical staff.

March is Music Therapy Awareness Month and a welcome opportunity to celebrate the healing and restorative power of music. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre's Music Therapy Program is led by SarahRose Black and supports patients, as well as colleagues, across UHN using the therapeutic properties of music.


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Have a good week,


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