Last week, we admitted and cared for the 1,000th patient at UHN requiring hospitalization due to COVID-19.

In addition to caring for 1,000 inpatients with COVID-19, we have also received more than 6,700 visits related to COVID-19 through our Emergency Departments, outpatient, clinics and Toronto Western COVID-19 Assessment Centre. These are sobering numbers and I know that UHN continues to care for some of Ontario's sickest patients.

Realizing the number of people TeamUHN has helped – which extends beyond these numbers – made me reflect on what has been lost, but also about what I am grateful for, which is working with all of you. When I look at what you have done together over the past year, it is about so much more than any numerical milestone. It is about the care you've given one another. It is about the dedication I have seen in your actions, despite the fear this virus brought to us. It is about your generosity and the generosity of your families as you have continued with your work across care, research and education. On behalf of UHN's Board of Trustees and Senior Management Forum, thank you.

Key reminders and updates

  • Tomorrow on March 23 (12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) – Virtual Open Forum on COVID-19.
  • Don't miss your opportunity to book your first vaccine dose at UHN. Register for your COVID-19 vaccine [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available] if you are in Group A, B, C or D and haven't already (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Vaccines).
  • Help save lives and accelerate our collective return to normalcy by masking, physically distancing and not gathering unnecessarily with people outside your household. This is important even if you are fully vaccinated. Vaccination complements public health measures, it does not replace them.

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.

Reinforcing confidence in COVID-19 vaccines

  • Background: In 2019, the World Health Organization declared vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats. We know that building vaccine confidence is linked to our ability to build trust – whether it be within UHN or across various communities – and this can be achieved by giving people the opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment, and to receive answers from people who are genuinely interested in understanding their perspectives and concerns. Although we have not yet reached the levels of vaccine supply we are hoping for in Ontario, we see that cases and Variants of Concern are rising and need to control wave 3 by protecting people through vaccination. In response, we have created a new work stream at UHN's Vaccine IMS Table for building vaccine confidence. The work stream is led by John Granton (Interim Medical Director, Health Services) who is making connections between various teams and ensuring we align and leverage all the work that is underway. While we've done well over all, we have areas with concerning and low uptake. If you haven't had your first shot, please sign up to receive it ASAP [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available] (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Vaccines).
  • Who presented? John Granton, Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President, Education; Chief Medical Officer)
  • What do I need to know? Don't hesitate to ask for help with building vaccine confidence amongst you and your colleagues. It is normal to have questions. Health Services is working to establish more support and tools for employees who have questions about vaccination. In the meantime, please review the resources on's vaccine page.

Focusing on priority groups – including people 80-years-old and over, First Nations/Métis/Inuit people and chronic home care patients – through UHN's Vaccine Registry and the Ministry of Health

  • Background: In early March, Ontario began vaccinating people 80-years-old and over. While the Ministry of Health worked to get a dedicated Vaccine Booking System up and running, UHN launched a registry in the interim so we could begin vaccinating this group ASAP. The Ministry's Vaccine Booking System is now live. As planned, we are now transitioning individuals currently on our 80+ Registry to the Ministry's Booking System, and all new requests from people 75-years-old will be managed by their system starting today. We are in the process of shifting our public-facing registry's focus to other priority groups including First Nations, Métis and Inuit, as well as chronic home care patients and patients enrolled in our many programs who are at highest risk. In addition to thanking all our amazing colleagues who are driving UHN's vaccine efforts, I'd also like to thank our Patient Engagement team who have been working all hours and weekends over the past two weeks to answer more than 1,000 questions from patients about the Vaccine Registry.
  • Who presented? Emily Musing (Vice President, Clinical; Chief Patient Safety Officer)
  • What do I need to know? UHN's Vaccine Registry for hospital healthcare workers is still open but we are preparing to switch over to the Provincial system, as more groups continue to be added and we move into Phase 2 of Ontario's vaccine delivery. Don't miss your chance to get your vaccine. Register if you are in Group A, B, C or D and haven't already [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available] (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Vaccines).

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 March 18, 2021.

UHN's top priorities – COVID-19 response, Synapse and TeamUHN well-being

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: Synapse represents our clinical transformation journey which will be supercharged by a new Health Information System (HIS). The value that ties Synapse with our other top priorities – which include our COVID-19 response and TeamUHN well-being – is ensuring that the needs of patients come first. Synapse is ultimately a quality-focused initiative that will transform our ability to deliver care, research and education. We must be ready to go live for May 2022. The hardest part isn't building the HIS – it's making decisions around what the configuration of the HIS should be in order to ensure optimal clinical care. The work to make these critical decisions kicked off on Feb. 6 with the formation of Advisory Councils and Working Groups. Synapse Champions from across UHN lead these groups.
  • Who presented? Robert Slepin (Senior Project Director, HIS), Sarah Muttitt (Chief Information Officer)
  • What do I need to know? Many important milestones have been achieved for Synapse – our pace and comfort with decision-making requires further fine tuning. Effective change management for a project of this scale requires clear and focused sponsorship from the highest levels of the organization. I have asked all members of ELF to join me in removing obstacles for the Synapse Champions across UHN and in communicating with Champions regularly so we can offer timely assistance. If you are playing a major role in Synapse and you find there are too many things on your plate, don't be shy about letting your local leader or ELF member know so we can ensure the success of Synapse and our COVID-19 response, while protecting TeamUHN's well-being.

Launching Virtual Care at UHN

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating our adoption of virtual care across the health system. While TeamUHN has been quick to respond, we have also identified some fundamental gaps that compromise our ability to deliver in this area (many technologies are not integrated requiring manual workarounds, space and hardware, etc.). UHN is launching a new Virtual Care strategy that will address these needs and support our clinical transformation. In combination with Synapse and the digital health curriculum we are advancing at The Michener Institute of Education, UHN is truly poised to deliver tomorrow's care. Innovative work in digital health has been advancing for years at UHN, but we know we have not maximized our opportunity to share knowledge and resources. We are very excited for the future ahead.
  • Who presented? Catherine Wang (Vice President, Clinical)
  • What do I need to know? Virtual Care at UHN is officially kicking off and was designed with Patient Partners in our Digital Patient Experience Consultant Group. The strategy will be rolled out under their guidance and use a health equity lens – since we are committed to ensuring that the needs of all patients come first. Learn more about UHN's virtual care strategy.

Closing notes

Last week was Brain Awareness Week (March 15 - 21) – deepest thanks to our colleagues who are advancing care, research and education in this domain. In honour of this observance, the Krembil Brain Institute at UHN, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and the Gairdner Foundation, are hosting a two half-day symposium on March 30 - 31 titled Alzheimer's: Why Haven't We Solved it Yet. This virtual event is free and open to the public. See more information and register.

March 26 is Purple Day, an international day of action for those in the epilepsy community to raise awareness and decrease stigma about the disorder. March is also Epilepsy Awareness Month. The Krembil Brain Institute's Neuron to Brain Laboratory will be hosting a livestreamed event on March 26 in honour of Purple Day to celebrate the incredible work of UHN's epilepsy team and program. See more information and register.

March 24 is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, which annually commemorates the date in 1882 when Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes TB. Thanks to our colleagues at the UHN TB Clinic, which remained open during the pandemic and provided quality care for more active TB patients than usual. Many patients were unable to access care in the community due to COVID-19 restrictions, and our colleagues stepped up to meet their needs.


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