Dear Colleagues,

Last week, we turned a corner in the fight against COVID-19 with a few important milestones at UHN. As of last Wednesday, there were no active COVID-19 patients in the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU) at Toronto General Hospital (TGH) and as of last Friday, there were no active COVID-19 patients in the Medical Surgical/Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (MSNICU) at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH). That does not mean there weren't any patients who were admitted for COVID, but rather none testing positive for the active virus in those units. Across UHN, we have about 100 patients with us who were admitted with active COVID and are now recovering. We also closed the last COVID-dedicated inpatient unit at TWH. UHN still has one COVID-dedicated unit open at TGH, but we anticipate it too will close in the coming days.

Having no active cases in our ICUs and the closure of the dedicated inpatient units are incredible milestones in this long fight against COVID-19. My thanks to all members of TeamUHN who supported these units and the many COVID-19 patients in our care throughout the pandemic. Sadly, this does not mean we can let our guard down as we are seeing cases reported among those who are partially or fully vaccinated.

This has been a long and difficult road for all of TeamUHN and our colleagues across the entire health system, and it is important to celebrate these victories – both big and small. These past few weeks have given us much reason for optimism, and hope that a return to some semblance of normal life is on the horizon, but we are not yet out of the woods. It is important we stay steadfast in our fight by getting both doses of the vaccine, and continuing to follow all hospital policies, Public Health guidelines and the current guidance from all levels of government. We have come so far, and I have faith that a cautious and steady approach to reopening, supported by strong rates of vaccination will see us through. So, let's celebrate these milestones together, and continue cheering each another on – which includes staying safe by following the Public Health guidelines. Your dedication to patients, colleagues, and the community throughout this long and tiring pandemic has been remarkable, and I am deeply grateful to you all.

Key reminders and updates

  • Thank you TeamUHN: COVID-19 Vaccine Prize Draw! In recognition of members of TeamUHN who prioritized vaccination as soon as they were eligible, we are hosting a prize draw over the summer months for fully vaccinated staff:
    • Members of TeamUHN who were vaccinated at a UHN clinic or outside of UHN, must notify Health Services to be entered in the contest. Health Services cannot access the provincial system, so if you haven't reported your vaccine status to Health Services, they need to hear from you.
    • To opt out of the contest, send your name and employee ID, to hsvaccines@uhn.ca. Subject line: **UHN Vaccine Prize Draw Opt Out**
    • Five winners will be randomly selected on each of the prize draw dates, occurring: June 25, July 9, 16 and 23, and a final draw on August 25. Winners will select a prize on a first come, first served basis – thank you to the UHN Foundation and Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation for their generous support to provide prizes.

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.

Resuming planned summer schedule of care

  • Background: Good news – the number of COVID-19 cases in the community continue to decrease, as are the number of hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19. Vaccination efforts, coupled with public health measures, will continue to maintain or lessen the burden of COVID hospitalizations on the health care system. This will allow health care providers to begin to resume clinical activity that was paused in order to devote resources to the pandemic response.
  • Who presented? Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical), Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical), and Susy Hota (Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control)
  • What do I need to know? UHN is able to resume the planned summer schedule of care. There is stability in the health care system, meaning we no longer need to transfer patients across the GTA to create capacity for admissions. The decrease in positive COVID cases and the uptake of vaccinations is encouraging, but the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant is causing some concern, so it is essential to continue to follow all public health measures.

Second dose vaccinations for TeamUHN and everyone who registered with UHN

  • Background: UHN's internal Vaccine Registry and the external registries dedicated to specific groups in the general public, including four other hospitals, have been used to rebook second doses for TeamUHN and anyone who received their first dose at a UHN clinic.
  • Who presented? Emily Musing (Vice President, Clinical and Chief Patient Safety Officer)
  • What do I need to know? By the end of June, UHN will have rebooked everyone on the registries to receive their second doses. Some individuals may have received their second dose at a clinic outside UHN – and all members of TeamUHN should inform Health Services of their vaccination status. All members of TeamUHN who have received both doses of a vaccine and registered this information with Health Services will be entered in the draws for prizes throughout the summer, thanks to the generosity of UHN Foundation and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

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 UHN.ca

Synapse Go-Live Date and Communication

  • 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). ELF acts as the Executive Steering Committee for the project and is accountable for making decisions that affect the project schedule, budget, scope, or quality parameters, along with managing risk to the organization. Since kicking off in November 2020, Spring 2022 was identified as the target date for the enterprise-wide switch to the new HIS (also known as “go-live"), but an exact date had not been established. The go-live date is essential to scheduling the multitude of readiness and testing activities and events, and ensuring effective planning in overlapping work streams.
  • Who presented? Robert Slepin (Senior Project Director, HIS), Sarah Muttitt (Chief Information Officer), David Wiljer (Executive Director, Education Technology Innovation)
  • What do I need to know? Saturday, June 4, 2022 is the date UHN is expected to go-live enterprise-wide with Project Synapse, powered by EPIC HIS. To achieve a safe and effective transition on June 4, 2022, Synapse Leadership will continue to identify, evaluate, and mitigate risks to the schedule, scope, and resources of the project. There will also be multiple go/no-go checkpoints throughout the year using well-defined conditions. There is no perfect date for going live on a new enterprise-wide system. However, June 4, 2022 is feasible and it is imperative that the new HIS be implemented as soon as it is possible to do so safely – current systems are at risk of failing, which is a risk to patient safety.
    • Next to patient care, Synapse is UHN's top priority for the year ahead. It is a complex, once-in-a-generation project that will increasingly require the participation of TeamUHN. Accordingly, you'll be hearing more – through various channels – about getting people, places, and processes ready for go-live. A good place to start is the Synapse site, which includes information about Readiness & Engagement Forums.

Overview of last week

Finalizing UHN's Commercialization Strategic Plan at the Research Committee of the Board Meeting

  • Background: UHN's Research Committee of the Board monitors and evaluates UHN's entire research enterprise — including fundamental discovery, translational, clinical and health systems research. It makes recommendations to UHN's Board of Trustees and is chaired by Lawrence Pentland (UHN Trustee).
  • What happened last week? The Committee convened for its quarterly meeting to discuss various topics, including a standing update on research strategy. Mark Taylor (Director, Technology Development and Commercialization) presented a final draft version of UHN's Commercialization Strategic Plan 2021–2026 to the Committee for feedback. Developed with input from the Committee, members of the Board of Trustees and more than 100 other stakeholders, the plan outlines the priorities that will guide UHN towards leading and enabling commercialization and industry partnership for A Healthier World. To achieve this, UHN will undertake several initiatives, such as growing spin-off companies (including attracting global entrepreneurs-in-residence and the best management teams to lead UHN spin-offs); licensing and sponsored partnerships; building upon our highly successful and foundation-supported funding programs; and inspiring a top-tier global presence by driving winning relationships with all of our internal and external partners. The Committee was also updated on research finances, risk, operations and recent successes, and Dr. Stephanie Protze (Scientist, McEwen Stem Cell Institute) gave a presentation on her innovative cell therapy research program that studies how stem cells can generate biological pacemakers.
  • What do I need to know? The plan will be launched very soon, and we are excited to embark on a journey to develop new strategies to commercialize our innovations — not only helping to bring our research to patients, but also fueling a veritable cycle of research translation that will elevate UHN, Toronto and Canada as a world destination for commercialization.

UHN Foundation and Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Meetings

  • Background: UHN Foundation and Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation are critical to UHN's position as Canada's Research Hospital, raising over $200 million each year. This past year, both foundations focused on supporting COVID research and supporting staff in the hospitals with a variety of programs to offer respite and encouragement to TeamUHN throughout the pandemic.
  • What happened last week? Both foundation Boards met last week, and I had the opportunity to give each Board a summary of the past year, our accomplishments, the difficulties of working with a new disease and the challenges experienced by our patients. I also had the opportunity to thank both Boards and the staff of each foundation for all of their work in what has been a very difficult time.
  • What do I need to know? We could not accomplish all of the care, research and education that takes place at UHN without the support of both foundations. Philanthropy, and the work that goes on to keep donors informed and excited about what we do at UHN, is critical to our vision of A Healthier World. If you have the opportunity, please thank the foundation team members for what they do.

UHN's collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

  • Background: As part of UHN's strategic priority to Inspire, Invent and Deliver Tomorrow's Care, UHN is pursuing opportunities to lead the integration of physical and mental health, both for patients and staff, but also with external partners. To this end, UHN is partnering with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to advance opportunities across the spectrum of care, research and education, with a focus on ensuring the best physical and mental health care for patients with complex illnesses. This partnership will serve to strengthen our many cross-organizational relationships as well as the complementary roles we serve within the healthcare system – one where mental health should be at the forefront of all of our discussions.
  • What happened last week? Under the leadership of Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President, Education & Chief Medical Officer), Marnie Escaf (Vice President, Clinical), Susan Abbey (Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Program Medical Director, UHN Centre for Mental Health), Vicky Stergiopoulos (Physician-in-Chief, CAMH), Linda Mohri (Vice President, Clinical Care, CAMH) Caroline Chessex (Medical Lead, Cardiology & General Internal Medicine) and Matthew Kelsey (Senior Manager, Transformation & Partnerships, Centre for Mental Health), both CAMH and UHN came together to map out the path forward, including opportunities that will serve to benefit both organizations.
  • What do I need to know? In the coming months, a roadmap will be formalized and engagement activities will be expanded across both organizations to advance planning across key areas of focus. Should you have any questions, please reach out to Matthew Kelsey for more information.

Closing notes

  • Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, an opportunity to recognize, learn, reflect and celebrate the diverse cultures and many contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. June is also National Indigenous History Month, which began under painful circumstances with the discovery of 215 Indigenous children found buried on the grounds of a residential school in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc territory (Kamloops). UHN's Indigenous Health Program held a ceremony to honour the children and all those affected by Residential and Day Schools earlier this month. While there is still much work to be done, it is important to acknowledge the achievements and progress made as well. UHN's first Indigenous healing garden has taken root at The Michener Institute of Education at UHN; you can read about it in UHN News. The Indigenous Health Program welcomed another member, Leonard Benoit of Qalipu Mi'Kmaq First Nation, a long-time nurse who is serving as the Regional Indigenous Cancer Patient Navigator for Toronto Central (Toronto Regional Cancer Program). Today, and moving forward, I urge all members of TeamUHN to think about what part you'll play in working towards reconciliation in Canada.
  • Happy Father's Day to all fathers and father figures, whom we celebrated yesterday. The pandemic has created many challenges for parents young and old in the face of ongoing school and childcare closures as well as the need to social distance and limit contact and travel. Thank you for your ongoing dedication and commitment, especially during such a difficult time. This past weekend was more hopeful than the previous Father's Day, a sign that there are better days ahead as things start to look up across the country.
  • June is Thyroid Awareness Month: There are many forms of thyroid disease, including nodules and thyroid cancer, and it often goes undiagnosed. As a leader in clinical care and point of care testing, the Thyroid Program at UHN provides access to tumour and familial genetic testing and counselling for prevention and early detection of thyroid cancer. Working across Toronto General, Princess Margaret, and Toronto Western hospitals, the multidisciplinary, collaborative program receives and manages the highest volume of thyroid cases in Ontario, and is a national leader in management of radioiodine refractory and metastatic medullary thyroid cancer, with one of the few centres in Canada offering clinical trials in systemic therapy to patients with unresectable, metastastic or radioactive iodine refractory disease. Learn more about the Surgical Thyroid Programs at UHN.

Feedback?

Your feedback is welcome and valued. Please reply directly to me or leave anonymous feedback here.

 

Have a good week,

Kevin


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