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Good Monday morning,

1. Highlights on UHN's Essentials

UHN’s Essentials are essential to the work we do as a leading academic health sciences centre – hence the name! Read here to learn more. Below, you’ll find highlights on UHN’s Essentials from last week.

People and Culture  Congratulations to our nursing colleagues who were recognized by the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology: Round of applause to all nominees and winners – with a special shout out to Rana Jin (Clinical Nurse Specialist, Geriatric Oncology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM)) who won the Oncology Nurse of the Year award! Congratulations to Doris Howell (Senior Scientist, PM) for winning the Lifetime Achievement Award. Pamela Savage (Director, Professional Practice, PM), Patricia Murphy-Kane (Clinical Nurse Specialist, Palliative Care Unit) and Doris Howell also won the award for Best Manuscript alongside their co-authors from Ryerson University. Samantha Mayo (RBC Financial Group Chair in Oncology Nursing Research) won for the research grant. Proud moment for TeamUHN!

Partnerships  Attending Ontario’s first Robotic Assisted Surgery Symposium hosted at UHN: Thanks to the philanthropic support of our remarkable Foundations and donors, we are home to a nationally renowned robotic surgery program. Unfortunately, robotic surgery is not yet seen as a medically necessary technology in Ontario and not a funded technology. We hope to see that change as the evidence continues to mount. Residents, fellows, nursing trainees and other allied health professionals develop essential skills using cutting-edge technologies that will inevitably become standard practice in the future. It’s hard to attract and retain exceptional trainees without giving them access to tools they are expected to master. Great to have UHN’s Marcus Bernardini, Jason Lee and Tony Finelli speaking at the event alongside colleagues from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Trillium Health Partners, Unity Health and the Health Corporation of America.

Partnerships  U.S. News and World Report Global Ranking names University of Toronto (U of T) as one of the world’s best universities to study oncology and clinical medicine: Congratulations to our colleagues in oncology for ranking #3 and clinical medicine for ranking #4. Last week, I shouted out our colleagues in surgery for ranking #4 and was thrilled to hear clinical medicine and oncology were also on the top ranked list. Congrats to all. Key takeaways here are the importance of teamwork and the pleasant fact that UHN – in partnership with U of T – is performing on a global scale. 

People and Culture  Attending UHN’s annual 25-year long service dinner: I’ve worked in Canadian healthcare for many years and can tell you that UHN has been long known for exemplary care, research and education. We know a reputation like that isn’t built overnight. It’s built through consistency. UHN is respected because of the dedication and service of the fine people who have built this remarkable place from the ground up. Key to our success is the people who make up TeamUHN. Our long-serving employees are the backbone of our commitment to excellence. It was a pleasure spending an evening with these amazing colleagues. 

Operational Excellence  UHN continues to manage budget pressures – meeting with programs and departments for Q2 status updates: Last week, Darlene Dasent (Chief Financial Officer) and Michael Caesar (Executive Director, Data & Implementation Science) and I met with programs to hear about their work to address our increasing operating deficit: Altum, Arthritis Program, commercial strategy, Emergency Department/General Internal Medicine, FM-PRO (Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations), Human Resources & Organizational Development, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehab. We have a few more groups to meet over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for a focused Q2 budget update at the end of this month. This update will summarize the outcomes of those meetings and key themes we are observing.  

2. Tomorrow’s care: Redesigning the leadership model at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

I’m sharing this update on behalf of myself and Brian Hodges (Chief Medical Officer; Executive Vice President, Education). We have begun the search process for the new head of cancer services at UHN as Mary Gospodarowicz reaches the end of her highly successful 10-year term as Program Medical Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Program. To this end, we have engaged the search firm Boyden to conduct the search. Here is a summary of the role description

As many know, we recently received the results of an external review of the cancer program which was conducted by a highly accomplished international team composed of Drs. Elizabeth Eisenhauer (Canada), Benedict Fraas (U.S.), Michael Baumann (Germany) and Raphael Pollock (U.S.). The review is extremely complimentary of the work of the team at Princess Margaret and we are grateful to Mary and Marnie Escaf (Senior Vice President, Executive Lead – Princess Margaret Cancer Centre) for their outstanding leadership that made this result possible. The report contains a number of recommendations that support the aspirational ambitions of the program, which is to continue to raise its stature as one of the best cancer centres in the world. One of those recommendations is that the clinical and administrative leadership roles be combined and positioned as Vice President. The reviewers reinforced that such a role would attract a very strong field of candidates from within, externally in Canada, and internationally. After discussing this internally and with our cancer program colleagues, we decided to adopt this model. Stay tuned for updates as the search progresses. 

3. An exceptional safety story and what I love about TeamUHN

When we are faced with something that doesn’t seem right, we have the decision to pursue answers or let it go. We make this choice all the time in every part of our lives. Sometimes we let things go because the human mind is imperfect and we know we might be wrong. But in many cases, it’s important to trust your intuition even when you receive conflicting information. This is especially true when it comes to patient safety. In this story, nine patients were prevented from incurring a potential complication with a very high mortality rate thanks to people following their instincts and using critical thinking.

Recently, senior technologist Krista Maracle at UHN’s Blood Transfusion Lab received a daily report which identifies patients requiring irradiated blood products. There are always one or two patients in this report but for two days in a row, there were none. Shelley Oliver (Senior Technologist, UHN Blood Transfusion Lab) followed up by calling the Help Desk to see if there was anything wrong with the report. The investigation found no issue. On the third day, the report had no patients again. Very strange – so Selene Fernando (Senior Technologist, UHN Blood Transfusion Lab) called the respective units at Princess Margaret to ask if there were patients who should be receiving irradiated blood. In response, nurses Breanna Martin and Marianna Augustine followed up with their colleagues individually while pharmacist Melanie Cormier looked through every patient chart. They discovered there were nine patients that should have been on those blank reports. It turned out the daily report was indeed malfunctioning. Thankfully, none of the patients requiring irradiated blood had been transfused. If they had been, they could have acquired graft-versus-host disease. Many of you know how serious that would have been. The reporting system is now fixed.

I was moved by this story because it demonstrates what I love about TeamUHN – our shared and relentless pursuit of answers fueled by critical thinking, razor-sharp instincts and teamwork. We see this every day across care, research and education. Thank you everyone for all that you do.   

4. 15th annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival raises more than $30 million for Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation 

I had the pleasure of attending this annual series of events which was founded and chaired by Todd Halpern, who is part of UHN and Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation’s respective Board of Trustees and Board of Directors. Thank you to the participating vintners, chefs, donors, dinner hosts, auction supporters and sponsors, and a special thanks to Todd and Ellen Halpern, Rob and Cheryl McEwen, Co-Chairs for this 15th year and championing A Healthier World. I also want to thank Myrna and John Daniels, who are close friends of Todd’s. It was Todd’s birthday and in honour of the milestone age – I won’t reveal which one! – Myrna and John decided to make a very generous gift and establish the Esther Halpern Leadership Fund in Geriatric Emergency Medicine. Esther is Todd’s mother and this meant a lot to him – and will mean a lot to many patients and families.

Have a good week, 

Kevin


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