Good morning, TeamUHN!

This Weekly Update is a bit different as I was on vacation last week. It is important for everyone to try to get some downtime over the summer, and I encourage everyone to work with their managers and colleagues so that you can all take a well deserved break.

Key reminders and updates

  • We are making excellent strides in our fight against COVID-19. As of Friday, we had less than five active cases across UHN, and all designated COVID units have been closed. Cases in the community are decreasing, while the number of fully vaccinated people steadily increases. I know this has been a long, exhausting and emotionally difficult time for TeamUHN, so I hope this is some welcome good news and that everyone can find some time to recover. However, with the spread of the Delta variant – a clearly dominant and very infectious strain – it is important that we all continue to follow public health guidelines and hospital policies. As Dr. Brad Wouters (Executive Vice President, Science & Research) stated to me recently: for individuals who remain unvaccinated, it isn't a question of 'if' you get COVID-19, it is a matter of 'when'. As I continue to hear about the ravages of this disease, I am again asking everyone to get vaccinated. If you need more information, have questions, or just need a bit of encouragement, please contact Health Services, and they will be happy to speak to your concerns, or you can book your vaccine appointment by emailing hsvaccines@uhn.ca.
  • New Leadership for UHN's Indigenous Health Program. Dr. Michael Anderson is part of the urban Indigenous community in Toronto. He is Mohawk (Bear Clan) and English with family roots in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. He practices surgical oncology and palliative care medicine, and previously served as the Indigenous cancer lead in the Toronto Regional Cancer Program. At the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (U of T), he is a PhD candidate and senior researcher with interests in Indigenous epistemologies, Indigenous approaches to implementation science, community engagement, dialogue, and Indigenous conceptualizations of death and dying.  Michael joins Ashley Migwans and Lenard Benoit in the IHP.
    • Miigwetch to Drs. Bernice Downey and Lisa Richardson. In making this announcement, I would like to recognize Bernice and Lisa's leadership. Over the past year, they have done extensive formal and informal education, hired and mentored staff, built partnerships, raised funds, advocated for policies and space, strengthened relationships with community organizations and advocated for change in order to create a pro​gram in Indigenous health at UHN.
  • Travel – within Canada and internationally. UHN, as it has throughout the pandemic, is following the provincial and federal guidelines for international, inter-provincial and provincial travel. If you are fully vaccinated, you will find provincial and inter-provincial travel restrictions greatly eased. However, I recommend you review any provincial/territorial restrictions before you travel within Canada. For international travel, double-dose vaccination is almost a necessity for arrival in many countries and it greatly eases the restrictions upon re-entry to Canada. There are also federal testing requirements prior to departure for, and re-entry to Canada, and most countries also require a negative test before entry. UHN expects all staff, physicians and learners to comply with the Government of Canada's guidelines about vaccination and testing around international travel. The federal government continues to cite non-essential travel as something that should be avoided. UHN has no role in determining whether your travel is essential or non-essential, but you should be aware of all the rules around international travel before departure and that they could change while you are away.
  • Home Testing. Last week, we began our COVID-19 home testing program for members of TeamUHN who: 1) cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, 2) have not let Health Services know their vaccination status, 3) have indicated that they will not be vaccinated. This program, which will be fully implemented over the next two weeks, is designed to keep you, your colleagues and patients as safe as possible. There were some challenges updating the UHN screening app to reflect the policy and concern was expressed about the screening process compromising your choice around vaccination. Be assured that the only department at UHN that is aware of anyone's vaccination status is Health Services (formerly Occupational Health), and that information is strictly confidential. What I can say is that 18,000 staff have informed Health Services whether they 1) are vaccinated, 2) cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, 3) not intending to be vaccinated, or 4) not disclosing their vaccination status; and approximately 750 home test kits have been couriered or distributed to those who need them. We are confident that most people have the protection of vaccination or have been provided with home test kits which will help them understand whether they are carrying a viral load of COVID-19 at any point in time.

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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