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

  • We are seeing our COVID numbers go up quite precipitously over the past two to three weeks, both with inpatients and staff off after testing positive. We've had to declare our first outbreak at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre this past weekend. Please continue to follow the best practices in prevention and see our internal webpage for more. (Intranet > COVID-19 Updates)
  • Congratulations to John Dick, senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, who was awarded the prestigious Canada Gairdner International Award last week for the discovery of leukemic stem cells (LSC) and his work on the diagnosis and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). His ground-breaking discovery and characterization of LSC was touted for "changing the understanding of the underlying biology of cancer" and sparking the exploration of cancer stem cells in other human cancers. I agree with his comments to UHN News that this incredible achievement is a testament that pioneering and world-class work can absolutely be done right here in Canada. And I encourage you all to take a listen to his 2020 interview with our 'Behind the Breakthrough' podcast to learn more about this renowned scientist and his remarkable career path, which began on a Mennonite farm in Culross, Manitoba.
  • We also celebrated a $50 million gift to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (PMCF) in memory of Canadian business titan and philanthropist Allan Slaight. The gift comes from La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso – Madam Gattuso is the beloved wife of the late Allan Slaight – and from The Slaight Family Foundation, led by Allan's son, Gary Slaight, who both joined us to celebrate last week. The Allan Slaight Breakthrough Fund will support discovery research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. I thank Miyo Yamashita and her team at the PMCF for their work with Ms. Gattuso, Mr. Slaight and their foundations to make this happen. Read more about this gift at UHN News
  • With the drive to Synapse go-live on June 4 and yet another wave of the pandemic upon us, we have had to postpone UHN's inaugural, confidential self-identification survey until early Fall. Deferring the survey was a difficult decision but we want every member of TeamUHN to take part in it to safely share their experiences about respect for diversity, inclusion, fairness, access to opportunity, and freedom from discrimination and harassment. This survey is critical to our understanding of UHN's population and the reality of our experiences at work, delivering care, research, and education. The survey is an important milestone in UHN's inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and anti-racism journey and the results will meaningfully inform our organizational planning, programs, and strategies. If you have any questions or would like to get involved as an ambassador for the survey, contact: or
  • Hearty congratulations go out to Shaf Keshavjee on his appointment to the new position of Chief, Clinical Innovation at UHN as he completes his storied tenure as Surgeon-in-Chief. This is the perfect next chapter for this visionary leader. His new position, alongside the dual role as Scientific Director of Techna, will have him in pursuit of bold clinical innovation —new technologies and patient care models throughout UHN – and a new era of commercialization for the organization. He remains UHN's Surgeon-in-Chief until the appointment of his successor.
  • The Synapse project held its 60-Day Go-Live Readiness Assessment (GLRA) on April 6. Stakeholders in attendance included senior executives and operational leaders. In advance of the meeting, the stakeholders received a summary of the status of each of the 58 workstreams within the project. Operational and project team representatives provided brief verbal updates on the workstreams with a status of "watch," "serious," or "critical", focusing on the steps being taken to improve the status by the next and final GLRA on May 4. The purpose of the reporting is to raise awareness of issues and risks and give stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and offer support. The tone of the meeting was collaborative and solution-focused. At this point in any project of this complexity and magnitude, issues are to be expected, and only by talking about them constructively will the solutions be found and implemented. Immediately following the GLRA, a smaller group comprised of ELF and key leaders from Synapse and Epic held a go/no-go meeting to discuss project risks. There was unanimous support for continuing with a go-live date of June 4. At the same time, there was an acknowledgment that the volume of information people need to absorb and synthesize is high, while bandwidth and capacity for attending training and participating in practice activities are low – key risks that must be continuously monitored and addressed. Thank you to everyone involved in the GLRA, and to TeamUHN for turning our collective attention toward Synapse for a safe and effective transition to Epic while also caring for patients.

Closing Notes

Tomorrow – April 12th – UHN will begin distributing one Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kit to all TeamUHN members working on-site. Each RAT kit includes five tests. Kits will be distributed to managers by portfolio, who will then provide them to their team. A positive result from any member of your household must be reported to Health Services, which will then provide more details on PCR testing and return to work.

The Michener Institute of Education has signed agreements in two new provinces over the past two months, accelerating our shared goal of ensuring Canada has an adequate supply of critically-needed health professionals. This direction shows how Michener can be a national leader in innovative, experientially based post-secondary education at a time when Canada needs these unique strengths the most. Learn more at UHN News

This week we're celebrating the 10th anniversary of the High School Outreach Initiative. This is a program delivered in partnership between UHN's Ajmera Transplant Centre, SickKids, Unity Health, Trillium Gift of Life and the University of Toronto, to increase awareness to organ and tissue donation among youth. To date, transplant health care professionals and organ donor advocates have delivered presentations to over 40,000 students. The celebration event on Wednesday April 13, at noon, is open to everyone, and you can watch it here

April is Oral Health Month, which began last week with the celebration of National Dental Hygienists Week and its most appropriate theme, "Oral Health for Total Health." It's an important reminder of how maintaining good oral health and taking care of our teeth, gums, and mouth contributes to a healthy lifestyle and our overall wellbeing. Poor oral health has been linked to a range of serious health conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. UHN has dental clinics at Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab, where members of TeamUHN, including dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants, take exceptional care of our patients. We celebrate them all and thank them for their dedication.

April is also World Autism Month. I know that many members of TeamUHN have been touched by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviours that is believed to affect about 70 million people across the world. One in 66 children and youth in Canada have been diagnosed with ASD, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. This month calls for acceptance and understanding for people with ASD and their loved ones. To mark the occasion, Autism Speaks Canada has just released a documentary online called "Life on the Spectrum"


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Have a good week,


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