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

  • I'd like to begin by reiterating the importance of getting a booster shot, for those who have not yet done so. Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer, said this week that the province has entered a seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant that now accounts for 65 per cent of all cases. Though we hope that it will not be the case, we must again prepare for the possibility of a spike of cases in the late summer and early fall. First boosters (third doses) are available now, while second boosters (fourth doses) are currently limited to Ontarians 60 years or older, as well as those living in long-term care homes, Indigenous people over the age of 18, and the immunocompromised. The province is reviewing further eligibility with a decision expected soon. We know that two doses of vaccine do not offer enough protection, even for those with a past infection, and that vaccines are vital to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Vaccine appointments can be booked through the Government of Ontario website.
  • Health Canada announced last week that it aims to decide by mid-July on whether to approve Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of six months and five years old. Moderna's vaccine is given in two doses roughly four weeks apart – each a quarter of the adult dose. Health Canada is also reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech last month for a vaccine for children between the ages of six months and four years old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved both vaccines in June. For more information on vaccines for children, visit the Health Canada website.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Sara Vasconcelos on her appointment as the John Kitson McIvor Chair in Diabetes Research. Dr. Vasconcelos is a Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute and an Associate Professor at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. She has an impressive track record in health research and has built a translational research program at the interface of biology, medicine, and engineering. Her research is revealing the underlying mechanisms of diabetes, identifying novel therapeutic targets, and developing potential treatments for diabetes and diabetes-associated cardiac dysfunction. She has received several awards for her research accomplishments, including the prestigious Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research Innovation and Science. Dr. Vasconcelos is also Chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee for the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology and serves as a councillor for the Microcirculatory Society. Congratulations Sara!
  • If you haven't already completed the survey about your experience using Epic, don't delay. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and closes at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 14. All feedback received will be reviewed by Epic and shared with the Synapse Working Groups during the Post Live Visits (PLVs), most of which will be held July 19-21. PLVs are an important part an Epic implementation and are a valuable opportunity for Working Groups, Synapse teams, and Epic to better understand how staff are using the system, and identify and prioritize system fixes and enhancements.

Closing Notes

I was delighted to read this story last week about TeamUHN member Chris Malcolm, the soulful singing security guard nominated for a Juno Award this year. Malcolm, who serves as a security guard at the Toronto General Hospital, and his bandmates in Kevin Adams & Voices of Praise, were nominated for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year. "I love what I do – I love singing and I love working at UHN," he told UHN News. I am always amazed at the unique talents and gifts that TeamUHN members possess and the wonderful personal stories in our community. Read more about Chris and his music at UHN News.

Researchers from Krembil Brain Institute (KBI), the University of Toronto, and the Hospital for Sick Children have developed an extensive list of 30 recommendations for concussion policies in school settings. This represents the first expert consensus for school-based concussion policies. Among the recommendations is a call for mandatory concussion education for teachers, school staff, students, parents and guardians, coaches, referees, and trainers. As Dr. Charles Tator, an Emeritus Scientist at KBI and the Director of the Canadian Concussion Centre told UHN News, streamlining policies can "reduce confusion and facilitate communication among various stakeholders, including educators, students, parents and guardians, and clinicians." Read more about this work on UHN News.

Have you had a chance yet to listen to Dr. Andrew Boozary, the executive director of UHN's Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine, discussing the Food Rx pilot project on the Toronto Star podcast "This Matters?" This unique and innovative partnership with FoodShare is making healthy food more accessible for those most in need by providing a "prescription" for home delivery of fresh vegetables and fruit. Dr. Boozary spoke about how food insecurity has a significant effect on people's health, particularly children, and how a broader policy response is needed to address poverty. Listen to the full podcast on the Toronto Star's website.


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Have a good week,

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