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

  • A sincere thank you to every member of TeamUHN who worked in service of patients and colleagues on Family Day. We also recognize the family members and loved ones who uplift members of TeamUHN every day so that they can give their best to patients.
  • In a recent announcement from Health Minister Christine Elliott and Premier Doug Ford, it was declared that as one of several measures to specifically support retention of Nursing, there was a commitment to offering a one-time retention bonus of $5,000 for all nurses (RN, RPN, NP) providing frontline patient care in publicly-funded settings across Ontario. Details are still being confirmed and will not be available until the Treasury Board approves any and all proposed measures. Here is the public statement from ONA. We will share additional information as it is released to hospitals and other care settings once approved by the Treasury Board. I know many other professions are exploring if they too are eligible, which UHN and OHA will continue to explore with the MOH.
  • On Thursday, Health Canada approved a fifth COVID vaccine, Novavax's Nuvaxovid, for adults 18 and over. Clinical trials show that, at two doses, Nuvaxovid is 90 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe disease, according to the agency. This is the first protein-based COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada. Protein-based vaccines are already used for other diseases, such as influenza and hepatitis. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said the vaccine will be offered to Canadian adults who have been unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine. Deliveries will reportedly begin in March.
  • Late last week, the Government of Ontario again eased a number of public health restrictions. Social gathering limits have been increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, and capacity limits have been removed in many indoor settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as restaurants, gyms, and movie theatres. The government intends to lift its proof of vaccination requirements for all settings on March 1, but masking requirements will stay in place. UHN's mandatory vaccination policy for staff, visitors, and Essential Care Partners (ECPs) will not change and, as mentioned before, we will follow a framework established by IPAC and Health Services to guide UHN's return to on-site activities. Find it here: (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > IPAC > Education, Meetings, and Social Gathering Recommendations).
  • Ontario youth ages of 12-17 can now book appointments for boosters if it has been six months since their second shot. Appointments can be made in the provincial booking website.

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.

Positive indicators on COVID-19

  • Background: Things continue to move in a positive direction on the COVID front, with no current outbreaks at UHN. While the province of Ontario is also in a fairly good position on vaccinations, some age groups are lagging on third doses.
  • Who presented? Susy Hota (Medical Director, IPAC)
  • What do I need to know? All indicators, including wastewater surveillance, are currently showing that community transmission appears to be moving in the right direction. Eighty-five per cent of eligible Ontarians over the age of five have had two or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, but uptake of third doses is lower and there is considerable variability according to age. While more than 87 per cent of Ontarians over 80 have received three doses, that number is below 35 per cent in the 18-29 age group. Ontario youth ages 12-17 who had their second dose six months ago are eligible to receive their third shots. While there remains a lot of room for improvement on booster doses and uncertainty on future trends of COVID, Ontario is intending to end its vaccine passport system for public settings on March 1.

Moving to CART Phase A

  • Background: On Feb. 10, the Government of Ontario lifted Directive #2 to permit the gradual resumption of non-urgent, non-emergent surgeries and procedures that were halted in January to preserve critical-care capacity amidst the Omicron wave. Last month, UHN scaled back to CART Phase B – a reduction in surgical activity to 54 per cent.
  • Who presented? Fayez Quereshy (Vice President, Clinical; Executive Sponsor, Clinical Activity Recovery Team)
  • What do I need to know? UHN will move this week to CART Phase A, increasing surgical activities in procedural environments. This move aligns with the return of redeployed OR nurses to their home environments, which is expected to drive additional volumes. UHN continues to encourage day surgeries, where we can. The surgical team is very much looking forward to more activity for our patients.

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 February 17, 2022.

Digital Pathology implementation plan

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: On behalf of UHN's Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP), the Executive Leadership Forum was asked to endorse a financial plan to implement an enterprise-wide Digital Pathology system at UHN – the process by which glass slides are digitized by whole slide technology –estimated around early 2025. UHN currently generates an annual volume of 835,000 slides, with about three per cent growth a year. Currently only two per cent of slides are digitized. Converting fully to Digital Pathology will create quantum benefits in pathology workflow and quality assurance, open the door to new innovations in clinical collaboration, teaching, research, and technology (such as AI), and align UHN with other world-leading institutions.
  • Who presented? Catherine Wang (Vice President of Clinical Operations & Diagnostic Partnerships) and Jan Delabie (Medical Director, Hematology & Transfusion Medicine)
  • What do I need to know? The proposal was given the greenlight by ELF. The initiative has confirmed non-operational funding from UHN stakeholders: LMP, JDMI, Princess Margaret, Research, Surgery and Techna for the full capital costs and five-year operating costs. Digital Pathology will also open up the opportunity for UHN to help support better access to sub-specialty pathology for the province, particularly rural/remote areas. This will be explored with Ontario Health and the Ministry. In March, project leads (Leon Goonaratne, Jenny Catton and Luke Brzozowski) will begin detailed project planning and procurement, and finalize a strategy to seek support from the Ministry of Health.

Retail strategy and planning

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: An update was presented to ELF on efforts to improve the retail landscape at UHN, and boost revenue streams by modernizing vendors at Princess Margaret, Toronto General, Toronto Western, Bickle Centre, Lyndhurst Centre, and the Michener Institute.
  • Who presented? Dana Schott (Director of Leasing, Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operation)
  • What do I need to know: In the spring, Real Fruit Bubble Tea vendor will open at Princess Margaret, and a Salad Days and BarBurrito will open at Toronto General. In March, EDO Sushi will open at Toronto Western. Tim Hortons has renewed its contract and will be renovating and improving the queuing strategy to address long line-ups in the hallway. At Bickle and Lyndhurst, FM-PRO is assessing additional retail and vending options including Tim Hortons and RC Coffee's Dark Horse. At Michener, FM-PRO is working to bring a vendor to the new kiosk at the front entrance. A Retail Advisory Committee will also launch on the week of March 7 to collect information on staff and volunteer preferences for future retail services and food court amenities, specifically at Toronto General and Toronto Western.

Closing notes

Congratulations to Sally Paluck on her retirement after 40 years at UHN! Sally started her career at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) in 1982 as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. She was one of the first RTs in the operating rooms. In that role she was instrumental in creating anesthesia supply carts and standardizing the equipment used by Anesthesiologists. She has made numerous contributions to the Operating Rooms and the Respiratory Therapy department, including taking on the special project of merging the departmental policies when TWH and Toronto General Hospital (TGH) merged into one entity in 1986. Sally's commitment to continuing education was evident when she proceeded to take the Anesthesia Assistant (AA) course at The Michener Institute and helped to pioneer the role at UHN. Her flexibility and adaptability have led her to perform this role at TGH, TWH, Princess Margaret Hospital, Women's College Hospital, and Kensington Eye Institute; all areas where UHN provides AA services. Her dedication to UHN was further demonstrated as she recently postponed her retirement in response to the departmental demands caused by the pandemic.

This week is Teaching and Learning Week at UHN, a time to recognize and thank you all for the exceptional teaching and learning that happens each day, in every area and department across UHN! Each of you contributes to a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for continual learning and preparing the next generation of health care colleagues in these ever-changing times. Please take a moment to recognize co-workers and learners who help others learn and grow at UHN, and more. Wishing you all a Happy Teaching and Learning Week!

Deployment and testing of non-medical devices (e.g. workstations and printers) that are necessary for using Epic is in progress across the organization. The Synapse device testing team will contact managers approximately two weeks in advance of their visit to ensure the scheduled arrival dates/times do not interfere with patient care. Leaders have been asked to make every possible effort to allow the team to visit as scheduled to ensure this critical work is completed on time. All staff are asked to not remove the stickers placed on tested devices, and to not move devices once they have a green "Ready for Epic Go-Live" sticker. It will take everyone doing their part to ensure devices are functioning as they should, contributing to UHN having a safe and effective transition to Epic. Learn more about device testing here.

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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