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.

A Message for the New Year

I would like to start by thanking all of TeamUHN for being here for our patients and each other, every single day. The Omicron Wave is testing us in ways that we never could have imagined when we chose a career in healthcare, but I will start the new year focusing on the things I am thankful for, even during this challenging time.

I am immensely thankful to the global research community. Scientific research over the last 20 years, has not only allowed us to have the COVID-19 vaccines we have today, but also yielded other possibilities to overcome the pandemic, such as the paxlovid pill which is shown to ease symptoms in infected people before they worsen and require hospitalization. Yes, you can still be infected even after receiving three doses of a vaccine, however, in virtually all cases, it is a mild infection and does not lead to hospitalization. With the numbers of positive cases in the province currently in the tens of thousands, just think where we would be today without vaccines, the vaccination effort, and everyone's willingness to become vaccinated.

I also want to thank the many learners who chose UHN to advance their knowledge and mastery in disciplines too numerous to name. Your flexibility during this pandemic – literally shifting learning objectives and modalities repeatedly – and always with good humour, demonstrates what great professionals you have become.

I am also thankful for the people who serve as volunteers on our Board of Trustees. While most of you do not see the support they offer to UHN, I see it on a daily basis. UHN's Board of Trustees attracts individuals with wisdom and experience in leading very large organizations and they are always there for us and never more so than in this pandemic.

I will close by thanking our patients who entrust us with their care at one of the most difficult times in their lives. To be ill during this challenging time is to be deprived of the support of family and friends or to be scheduled for care, only to be rescheduled – possibly a number of times. It is an almost impossible situation for patients, their families and the people who care for them while they are with us. I know many of you step in to roles normally reserved for family and friends and that it takes a toll. Thank you for bearing that burden and for your humanity and compassion in accepting it.

Key reminders and updates

  • Virtual Open Forum on COVID-19 this week – Tuesday, January 11, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    • Submit questions here or enter #UHNCOVID-19x53 on Slido.com.
      You must include your full name for your question to be accepted. Including your full name helps support transparency and collegiality at UHN.
    • Livestream link here (Chrome or Firefox only).

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to COVID-19, UHN has re-activated its Executive COVID-19 IMS (Incident Management System) table and we are meeting on a daily basis. Membership includes our Executive Leadership Forum and other members of COVID-19 work streams. This is a snapshot of the discussions this past week.

Reporting of COVID-19 Cases in the Community

  • Background: Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and that the province of Ontario's testing capacity is now dedicated to specific groups such as health care workers, the daily case count reports will now focus on hospital and critical care admissions in the province.
  • Who presented? Susy Hota (Medical Director, IPAC)
  • What do I need to know? UHN's focus is now on admissions to our hospitals, the absenteeism of staff as a result of illness or exposure, and support for staff members reporting illness or exposure to enable them to return to work safely. Should you experience COVID symptoms or have an exposure, please isolate immediately and contact Health Services who can provide guidance for next steps, including booking a PCR test where appropriate.

Reporting of COVID-19 Cases in the Community

  • Background: Early in the new year, the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), with the support of the Province of Ontario, reissued Directive #2: directing hospitals to reduce scheduled care while maintaining the ability to respond to urgent and emergent cases.
  • Who presented? Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical; Executive Sponsor, Clinical Activity Recovery Team)
  • What do I need to know? On January 5, UHN ramped down its scheduled surgical services and outpatient procedures to CART Phase A. Though the reduction in care was directed, staffing shortages as a result of current illness or exposure from this Wave would have meant that care would have been decreased, whether directed or not by the CMOH.
  • What happened at the Executive Leadership Forum meeting

    UHN's Executive Leadership Forum (ELF) represents a broad range of voices and skill sets from across the organization and provides direction and oversight in service of patients, TeamUHN and our vision of A Healthier World. See the full membership on UHN.ca. The last ELF meeting was held on January 6, 2022.

    FM-PRO's Update

    • Background and why this was brought to ELF: In December 2021, UHN's Capital Committee approved additional funding requests for two large scale redevelopment projects: Toronto Western's Critical Infrastructure and Toronto Western Emergency Department Renovation. Both projects began prior to the creation of the Facilities Management – Planning Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO) and required additional funds. New controls put in place by FM-PRO to ensure future projects are kept on budget along with a summary of 2021 major Capital projects were presented to ELF.
    • Who Presented? Ron Swail (VP, FM-PRO) and Christopher Rizzo (Sr. Director, Redevelopment)
    • What do I need to know: Significant improvements to change order management controls have been put in place by FM-PRO to ensure new projects are completed on time and budget and to a high level of quality. The summary of 2021 major project completion budget results showed all recent large scale projects have come in under or on budget.

    Closing notes

    Synapse Update: The mission of the Synapse project is to have a safe and effective transition to a new health information system (HIS) powered by Epic on June 4, 2022. We are entering the homestretch of this project. While the pandemic once again presents unexpected circumstances, the team dedicated to the project — and the thousands of stakeholders from across UHN who contribute to this clinical transformation — continue to rise to the challenge to ensure we stay on track for delivering a better future for patients and all of TeamUHN. Training the 16,000+ members of TeamUHN who will use the Epic system is essential. Managers and providers are encouraged to visit the Training Registration page of the Synapse site for information about the registration process and how the Synapse project team is ready to help you complete this critical task.

    On January 7th, many of our colleagues celebrated Orthodox Christmas which occurs every January 7 because the Orthodox Church celebrates the birth of Jesus according to the Julian calendar. The Gregorian calendar, in use today, led to a new Christmas Day on December 25 because of the changes to the calendar year. On behalf of UHN's Board of Trustees and Senior Management Forum, wishing those who celebrated on January 7, a joyful and merry Christmas.

    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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