Good Monday morning,

Last week, I was invited to visit parts of Toronto General (TG) and Toronto Western (TW) and the week before to see the remarkable renovations and redevelopment underway at Princess Margaret. My thanks to the numerous staff who shared their perspectives with me and to the people who organized such seamless tours. Here are some of my reflections below.

  • When I asked what everyone's favourite thing was about working at UHN, the overwhelming majority said it was the teamwork and people. The support for each other was palpable and impressive.
    • There was evidence supporting this everywhere. For example, I saw many walls covered with team member photos and staff recognition boards. What I admire most is that these boards were created through grassroots efforts. I am a huge fan of individuals and teams who take the initiative to help create a better workplace for all. Fortunately I had time to leave a recognition card on one of the boards (photo below) and look forward to writing many more moving forward.
    • Our goal is to ensure UHN is the healthcare employer of choice. As a research intensive hospital, we must also use the research of other domains – like organizational psychology – that conclusively demonstrate that teamwork, respect and civility are defining characteristics of great places to work.
  • I asked many I was fortunate to meet to share with me one thing they'd want to change about UHN. Thank you to the staff who shared constructive feedback and to our Executive and Site Leads for encouraging teams to speak frankly. This type of encouragement in providing constructive criticism and, with that, suggestions on how to improve our mission of care, research and education is what we should expect from all leaders at UHN. Please hold me to that standard!
    • IT systems: Thus was the overwhelming "winner" of opportunity for improvement. As I mentioned in my last message, we are working on a fast track and I am thankful for all the insights that were shared through my visits about this matter.
    • Research and education: I was impressed with the interest in and recognized importance of our academic mission. I was also pleased to talk about the goal of how every patient could be offered the opportunity to participate in research, and every learner rate UHN as the best learning environment.
    • Bed map: Others mentioned work flow and ensuring patients are in the right place at the right time. When I was visiting GIM on the 13th and 14th floors of Eaton wing at TG, I was told our GIM patients are being admitted into other units out of necessity – underlining our need to look at the way beds are allocated for the patient populations we serve. I was really disappointed to hear that some surgical patients have experienced multiple cancellations and that on rate occlusion transplants are cancelled. Thus is an area we must improve ASAP. Mike Nader (Chief Operating Officer), Shaf Keshavjee (Surgeon-in-Chief) and Ed Cole (Physician-in-Chief) are working closely with the operations team to manage these issues.
    • Physical space: One of the things that surprised me most about UHN is the stark contrast between our beautiful exteriors and incredibly challenged interiors. We are embarking on our Master Planning process and will be working to address our critical infrastructure needs.
    • I was absolutely bowled over by our transplant programs. UHN is the largest adult transplant centre in North America with UCLA following UHN. Many world firsts have occurred here and I have no doubt more to come. It was especially touching to stop and see the lovely presentation of photos and the many moving stories of those deceased donors - and their exceptional families - who've made so many transplants possible.
    • Finally, after learning about the breadth and scope of our Mental Health Program at TG and TW, I must say they are one of UHN's unsung heroes. I'm afraid I was unaware of the breadth and scope of our mental health and addictions services before joining Team UHN. I learned UHN receives more than 25,000 ED visits associated with mental health per year and that our teams support Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab as well. We also know the increasing need for mental health support in medical and surgical programs - where many patients experience mood disorders following a critical event. Given the diverse population of our city, it was also great to see Asian, Portuguese and Spanish mental health services offered at TW.
compliment card

For those who can't read my handwriting: "Thanks for the fantastic efforts and sharing your expertise with me."

I am keen to learn as much as possible about UHN through the collective wisdom of everyone here and look forward to my upcoming visits to other sites, departments and programs. I'm in your capable hands!

In other news, I know our new government is top of mind. Dr. Rueben Devlin was recently appointed as the Chair and Special Advisor to Ontario's new Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine. Dr. Devlin is the former CEO of Humber River Hospital and an advocate for super powered digital health – we are ready to get to work with him, our new Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Honorable Christine Elliott, and Premier Ford's cabinet.

Next is something I'm glad to be able to do – highlighting Local Impact Award nominees. Below are some more descriptions of exceptional staff members as submitted by their colleagues.

  • Dr. Andrea Furlan and the Interprofessional Pain Team at Toronto Rehab: Andrea and her team developed various innovative tools and applications for the implementation of the National Opioid Guidelines in the midst of an emerging opioid use crisis. The tools have proven so successful that they have already gone well beyond the walls of UHN, reaching national and international stakeholders.
  • Dr. Heidi Schmidt and Catherine Wang: Heidi and Catherine were nominated for their instrumental role in the success of the SCOPE (Seamless Care Optimizing the Patient Experience) program. Through SCOPE, primary care physicians in the community are connected with specialized imaging services. Under Catherine and Heidi's leadership, the program is being scaled across all sub-regions in the TC LHIN (Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network) with plans to expand this program across Ontario.
  • Dr. Lucas Chartier: Lucas is our ED Director of Quality and Innovation and responsible for re-energizing UHN's Quality Improvement Committee. Under his leadership, the team has completed dozens of projects including improvements to patient communication (which led to increased satisfaction and decreased patient anxiety), resuscitation teams, falls prevention, patient flow and resource stewardship.
  • Medication Reimbursement Specialists at Princess Margaret: Yvonne Ta, Charlene Lord, Mariann Nemec, Shirley Chen, Dian Duong, Aleksandra Chmielowska, Masha Gabrieleva and Armando Villanueva are nominated for their impact on patient care. They are praised by colleagues for their work ethic and dedication. My favourite part of the nomination: "Ask any patient who they have dealt with and they will ALL sing their praises." Something we should all strive for!
    Finally, a reminder that we have an Open Forum this Thursday from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at Michener auditorium. My goal is to discuss what matters most to our community so I will be relying on you to ask and submit questions. Livestreaming will be available here for those who can't make it in person.

Thanks for reading,


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